Happy Book Birthday to WONDER WALK by Ilham Alam!

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Title: WONDER WALK
Author: Ilham Alam
Illustrator: Kerry Bell
Publisher: Iguana Books
Release Date: April 16, 2019
Format: Hardcover, Softcover, mobi, ePub
Summary: Get out there with the curious Johnny and his patient Mommy, in this colourful, rhyming book, celebrating all the wonders of the everyday world. What do they see? What do they hear? What do they talk about?
Author’s Site: www.storymummy.com


Do you have a children’s picture book coming out soon? I’d love to wish it a Happy Book Birthday here on Frog on a Blog! CLICK for more information.

Happy Book Birthday to I’M HAPPY-SAD TODAY by Lory Britain!

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Title: I’M HAPPY-SAD TODAY: Making Sense of Mixed-Together Feelings
Author: Lory Britain
Illustrator: Matthew Rivera
Publisher: Free Spirit Publishing
Release Date: April 15, 2019
Format: Hardcover
Summary: Happy and also sad. Excited but nervous too. Feeling friendly with a little shyness mixed in. Mixed feelings are natural, but they can be confusing. There are different kinds of happy—the quiet kind and the “noisy, giggly, jump and run” kind. And there are conflicting feelings, like proud and jealous, frustrated and determined. With gentle messaging and charming illustrations, a little girl talks about her many layered feelings, ultimately concluding, “When I have more than one feeling inside me, I don’t have to choose just one. I know that all my feelings are okay at the same time.” A special section for adults presents ideas for helping children explore their emotions, build a vocabulary of feeling words, know what to do if they feel overwhelmed, and more.
Author’s Site: www.lorybritain.com


Do you have a children’s picture book coming out soon? I’d love to wish it a Happy Book Birthday here on Frog on a Blog! CLICK for more information.

Beautiful Earth by Lisa Olson

Trees Cover

Please welcome author Lisa Olson to Frog on a Blog. You may remember Lisa from a while back when she stopped in to talk about her wonderful picture book series American Herstory. (You can read about the series by clicking HERE.)

Today, Lisa’s back with a gorgeous new book And the Trees Began to Move, published by Eifrig Publishing just in time to celebrate Earth Day on April 21, and to “honor nature and all of its blessings!”

Lisa’s love for our Earth and the abundance of amazing life that surrounds us every day is evident in her article below. Enjoy!

Beautiful Earth

The earth laughs in flowers.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
In wilderness is the preservation of the world.” ~ Henry David Thoreau
Nature is painting for us, day after day, pictures of infinite beauty.” ~ John Ruskin

Walk through any wooded lot with your eyes WIDE open and your mind perfectly still and you will find a real-life Enchanted Forest. If you look…REALLY look…with all of your senses, you WILL see it. Magic…REAL magic, moving all around us. Living, breathing, growing and ever-changing…this tiny revolving planet in a vast solar system of stars is home to us ALL! Every day, life is exploding around us in a dazzling display and we barely flinch at the wonder of it.

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*a sneak peek illustration from AND THE TREES BEGAN TO MOVE

Nature is glorious…TRULY! Shades of green and gold shimmer and the wind whispers its secrets to the trees as it passes through the canopy of leaves. Wildflowers speckle the ground in a colorful spray amid dappled shadows and bright splashes of sunlight. The sharp whiff of pine mingles with the sweet scent of newly budded blossoms and together they move among the oaks and willows in an endless dance. Delicate butterflies with gossamer wings taste the world around them with their feet! AMAZING! Buzzing bees and tiny dragonflies with iridescent wings dart here and there in miraculous loops and aerial maneuvers that leave you dizzy as your eyes track their journey from flower to flower.

With Earth Day fast approaching, we have the perfect opportunity to reflect on the miracles and everyday magic that literally surrounds us every moment of our lives. If we all plant just one seedling, together we have the power to grow an entire forest! We are called to be good stewards of our natural world. The TREES call to us…listen! It’s no coincidence the innermost part of a tree is called The Heart. Beating together, we thrive.

Lisa pic 1

First and foremost, Lisa Gammon Olson is a mom of three amazing young men; Grant, Kyle & Jay. She lives with her husband Bruce in Coon Valley, WI, where she is the secretary at the Coon Valley Elementary School….a job she adores! She believes the most important skill we can ever teach our children is “How to be Kind.” Any kindness we do, no matter how small, has the power to change someone’s life. Growing up in northern Wisconsin has instilled in her the wonder of nature… sparkling lakes, endless forests and trails littered with pine needles and possibilities. Preserving our planet and populating it with human beings who are Respectful, Responsible, and Kind seems like an awesome idea.

For more information about Lisa and her books, visit lisagammonolson.com.

Happy Book Birthday to DADDY, CAN YOU SEE THE MOON? by Gayle C. Krause

  • Title: DADDY, CAN YOU SEE THE MOON?
  • Author: Gayle C. Krause
  • Illustrator: Carlos de la Garza
  • Publisher: Clearfork/SPORK
  • Release Date: April 9, 2019
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Summary: Written in rhyme, Daddy, Can You See the Moon? is about the special moments a young boy and his deployed dad share by looking at the moon, until the father comes home a wounded warrior and the boy realizes that love was what kept them connected all along.
  • Author’s Site: www.gayleckrause.com

Do you have a children’s picture book coming out soon? I’d love to wish it a Happy Book Birthday here on Frog on a Blog! CLICK for more information.

Picture Books At The Library 182

At The Library Too

I catalog hundreds of new picture books each year, and I read as many of them as I can. Unfortunately, I can’t review them all. But I can share them! Below are a few recent titles. (Summaries have been taken directly from the books whenever possible.) Check your local library or bookstore for availability.

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THE BIG, ANGRY ROAR: After Cub gets in trouble for hurting his sister, he’s mad, and must find a way to let his anger out.

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CHICKS RULE: After Nerdy Chick isn’t allowed in the Rocket Club, she bans together with chicks of all flocks and feathers to prove that chicks can do anything.

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THE SECOND SKY: From the moment he hatches, Gilbert dreams of flying, and, after several failed attempts, discovers there’s more than one way to fly.

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SERGIO SEES THE GOOD: When a downcast Sergio gets home from a terrible day at school, his mom shows him a simple way to measure how bad the day really was.

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THE DOG WHO WANTED TO FLY: Zora is determined to learn how to fly so that she can catch a pesky squirrel.

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THE NEW NEIGHBORS: The bunnies are excited to hear that rats have moved into the apartment downstairs, but the other residents are wary of their new neighbors.

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A PLAN FOR POPS: When Pops takes a spill and winds up in a wheel chair, Lou and Grandad come up with a plan to cheer him up.

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TINY T. REX AND THE IMPOSSIBLE HUG: When his friend is sad, Tiny T. Rex is determined to learn how to hug.

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THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD AND ME: A celebration of our relationship to the natural world–just as a pebble is part of a mountain, each of us is part of something bigger.

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A FRIEND FOR HENRY: Henry, a child on the autism spectrum, searches for a friend among his classmates.

Picture Books At The Library 181

At The Library Too

I catalog hundreds of new picture books each year, and I read as many of them as I can. Unfortunately, I can’t review them all. But I can share them! Below are a few recent titles. (Summaries have been taken directly from the books whenever possible.) Check your local library or bookstore for availability.

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THE AMAZING IDEA OF YOU: Just as there is potential in every apple seed to be a tree and in every tadpole to be a frog, there is potential in every child to be a unique and creative adult.

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DUST BUNNY WANTS A FRIEND: A lonely dust bunny tries to befriend some ants, a cat, a teddy bear and others.

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THE GOOSE EGG: Henrietta the elephant accidentally takes home and hatches a goose egg and now she must teach the gosling how to be a goose.

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WHAT IS GIVEN FROM THE HEART: James Otis struggles to find something to give to a girl whose family lost everything in a fire.

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UNDER MY HIJAB: As a young girl observes that each of the six women in her life wears her hijab and hair in a different way, she considers how to express her own style one day.

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BEAR NEEDS HELP: A polar bear needs help with an untied shoe, but the other animals are too afraid to help.

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LOLA DUTCH, WHEN I GROW UP: Determined to decide what to be when she grows up, Lola tries several careers, until her friend Bear reminds her not to be in such a hurry.

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DRAGON NIGHT: Georgie, who’s afraid of the dark, befriends and goes on a nighttime adventure with a dragon who dwells in a book and is afraid of a knight.

Pops Jamison And The Skwerdlock

Created with GIMP

Please welcome John Jamison, a.k.a. Pops Jamison, to Frog on a Blog. John is the author of several books for both children and adults. Today, he’s here to talk a bit about his Skwerdlock series for kids, which he also illustrates. What’s a Skwerdlock? Read on to find out.

It took me thirty-eight years to write Meet the Skwerdlock!. The idea appeared one very early morning as I sat in a rocking chair with my two-year-old sick daughter and made up a silly song about a funny looking dog called the Skwerdlock. I tried writing Meet the Skwerdlock! then, but it just didn’t work.

Over the years, I tried several more times to write the book, with no success. I talked with illustrators and had some very nice images created, but the Skwerdlock always looked like I did that Easter Sunday back in the third grade when they dressed me up in that white skirt and big red bow for the children’s choir. As nice as the pictures were, they just weren’t the Skwerdlock we knew. I couldn’t figure the book out. What was the Skwerdlock for? What did the book teach? What was the message? Why write the book?

TheSkwerdlockandCrib

Two years ago, my daughter’s three-year-old daughter asked what the Skwerdlock looked like. I got a piece of paper and pencil and started drawing the image from that old song. I drew ears like an elephant, a nose like a hog, and all the rest. I am not an artist, and my drawing was evidence of that fact. I started to toss it and try again when I heard the voice.

“You forgot my shoes,” the Skwerdlock said.

I drew some shoes.

“Aren’t you going to add some colors?” he said.

I got some watercolor paints. I didn’t stay inside the lines, and some of the pencil marks I hadn’t erased showed through the paints. It was nothing at all like the nice illustrations I had seen before, but, finally, it looked like the Skwerdlock.

“Now aren’t you going to write that book about that night we met?”

So I did. And then I wrote I Saw the Skwerdlock!, and have just finished Never Take the Skwerdlock to the Doctor!. I finally realized that the Skwerdlock wasn’t about looking perfect, and wasn’t about teaching a lesson or making a statement. The Skwerdlock thinks kids get enough of that. The Skwerdlock is just fun–an opportunity to escape from the pressures of growing up and learning, and just spend some time letting our imaginations dream about things that might be.

TheSkwerdlockandKitchen

I illustrated the books with my own pictures. People sometimes point out that the colors go outside the lines, and there are pencil marks showing in places. I smile and tell them that’s exactly how the Skwerdlock looks, too. He is not perfect, and has smudges here and there, just like me. Meet the Skwerdlock! and the other Skwerdlock books are just an excuse to sit on someone’s lap in the recliner and smile.

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John Jamison is a life-long believer in the power of stories. First as a pastor, then educator, creator of Centers for Innovation at multiple universities, Director of a national Game and Simulation academic degree program, and a consultant for e-learning and brand development, John has used the power of story to bring about serious change and have some fun in the process.

John grew-up in a small river-town in Illinois, and describes his childhood as “kind of Tom Sawyer-ish with a blend of Wizard of Oz.” John says, “I grew up in a family of storytellers and liars, and I spent most of my time trying to figure out which was which.”

Keep up to date with his books at https://jbjamison.jamisonbooks.com.

Picture Books At The Library 180

At The Library Too

I catalog hundreds of new picture books each year, and I read as many of them as I can. Unfortunately, I can’t review them all. But I can share them! Below are a few recent titles. (Summaries have been taken directly from the books whenever possible.) Check your local library or bookstore for availability.

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CRAB CAKE: When a pile of trash is dumped into the ocean, crab rallies the other sea creatures to help clean things up.

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HUSH, LITTLE BUNNY: A re-imagining of a classic lullaby featuring a papa bunny and his little one.

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HANDS UP: A young girl lifts her hands up in a series of everyday moments before finally raising her hands in resistance at a protest march.

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SEA BEAR: A polar bear waits patiently for spring when the ice breaks up and she can hunt, but by the end of summer, she must swim very far to find land.

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STARDUST: A little girl dreams of being a star so that she can shine just like her sister does.

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THE TALL MAN AND THE SMALL MOUSE: A man enlists the help of the tiny mouse who’s been living in his house to fix the town’s great clock.

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AUNTIE LUCE’S TALKING PAINTINGS: Through her aunts vibrant paintings, a girl comes to understand the place her family calls home.

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HOW DO YOU DO: All Water Buffalo and Crane can think about is how hot it is, day after day, until Goat arrives dancing and leading them on an adventure. 

 

5 Best Culturally Diverse Picture Books to Read Now by Ilham Alam

DiversityPlease welcome back to Frog on a Blog author and mom Ilham Alam. This past September, Ilham shared her Top 5 Books for Kids to Learn ABC’s.

Today, she’s stopped by with another wonderful list: 5 Best Culturally Diverse Picture Books to Read Now.

 

 

 

5 Best Culturally Diverse Picture Books to Read Now

by Ilham Alam

Mommy’s Khimar by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow and Ebony Glenn

Mommys Khimar

This is one of the books that I always recommend for kids and is a perennial favourite for many reasons. It teaches diversity and acceptance through the means of the oft-misunderstood Hijab, or Khimar. Through the eyes of a little girl, we can see her love for her mother and her mother’s many beautifully coloured khimars. We see the reasons why this little girl and her mother choose to wear the khimar, and cultural reasons are only one part of it. I also love that it depicts diversity in relationships as it appears that her parents have an inter-religious marriage, yet family members with different religious beliefs still love each other all the same. Read the book to find out what her favourite color of khimar is.

Sea Prayer by Khaled Hosseini

Sea Prayer

Written by the writer of the celebrated novel, Kite Runner, this poem has been written as a dedication to the refugees from Syria and likely inspired by the story of Aylan Kurdi. In wispy and haunting pictures with short but powerful verses, we see the story of a boy and his family who had a lovely life in Syria prior to the current Civil War. Then comes their decision to flee using the dangerous Mediterranean crossing, just for a fighting chance to reach safety in Europe. Before they get into the boat, the father whispers a sea prayer to his son, who’s asleep in his arms and unaware of the perilous sea journey that he’s about to take. If nothing else, this book will fill you with compassion for their plight.

Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly and Laura Freeman

Hidden

This is an untold history of NASA’s Apollo 11 mission and should be read by all kids, especially girls from diverse communities. These 4 pioneering African-American female engineers/mathematicians, are wonderful role models, as these women displayed intelligence, grace, talent, and courage, to become the first women of colour to be employed at NASA as scientists. These women worked on the historic missions, which successfully sent the first American man into space, the first people ever on the moon in 1969, and vastly improved the safety of commercial airplanes. And these women made their astonishing achievements at a time of segregation among races and when women, especially black women, had little access to higher education.

Old Mikamba Had a Farm by Rachel Isadora

Mikamba

This is the African version of “Old Macdonald had a Farm, E-I-E-I-O.” Younger kids will love the familiar sing-a-long, but with different animals, and older kids will love learning about the different animals that are found in the African continent. All will love the rich yellows and browns showing Mikamba, his animals, and his village. This is a clever retelling of the age-old nursery rhyme by Rachel Isadora, meant to teach us something about another part of the world.

Malala’s Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai and Kerascoët

Malala

Who doesn’t know of Malala Yousafzai? She is the brave young woman who was nearly killed for speaking out in support of girl’s education and equality between the genders. In simple sentences, Malala expresses her desire to rewrite her society with her pencil. In beautiful painting-like images, Malala shows us what her life was like in the deeply conservative part of Pakistan that she is from, the lack of safety and security, her home and family, and the lost potential of her female peers being denied schooling. This book is not only autobiographical, but inspirational, as kids can see what Malala’s determination and courage eventually got her: the right to an education. Kids here will be a bit more thankful that there is universal public education in the West and that it is their birth-right to get quality education, when they read about Malala’s hopes and sacrifice.

Ilham Alam

 

Ilham Alam is a married mom of 2 from Toronto, Canada and an avid reader of most genres. As a dedicated bookworm, she has been on a mission to turn her 2 boys and her cat into dedicated readers as well (she’s making good progress). She also has her upcoming picture book, Wonder Walk, being published by Iguana Books in Spring 2019. You can pre-order your copy of Wonder Walk today and also multiple perks to go with it for a limited time only.

wonder walk

Pre-Order Link:

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/wonder-walk-illustrated-children-s-book/x/20435653#/–

Picture Books At The Library 179

At The Library Too

I catalog hundreds of new picture books each year, and I read as many of them as I can. Unfortunately, I can’t review them all. But I can share them! Below are a few recent titles. (Summaries have been taken directly from the books whenever possible.) Check your local library or bookstore for availability.

Sometimes things are out of our control. That’s why I haven’t posted a ‘Picture Books At The Library’ segment in over a month. Yikes! It has to do with library budget and when orders get processed and it’s all very boring. So…while we are waiting on brand new 2019 titles to arrive (soon!), I’ve put together a roundup of 2018 picture books that you may have missed. Lots of wonderful books to seek out! With gorgeous art in all!

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FOUND: While missing her dog, a young girl finds, befriends, and cares for another lost dog. Wordless

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SOPHIE JOHNSON, UNICORN EXPERT: Sophie is so caught up in teaching others about unicorns that she fails to notice the magic right under her nose.

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I JUST LIKE YOU: A diverse group of animals show how friendship can be as simple as appreciating the critter next to you.

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LOVE, Z: While out looking for adventure, a young robot finds a message in a bottle that starts him on a quest to find out what love it.

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TWINKLE: Twinkle’s spells go from clumsy to catastrophic on her first day of fairy school.

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MOUSIE, I WILL READ TO YOU: Follow a mama mouse and her baby on the little mouse’s journey to becoming a reader.

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THE BOOK THAT JAKE BORROWED: Jake borrows a library book, drips jelly on it, and must face the consequences.

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FOX EXPLORES THE NIGHT: A fox sets off from its den to explore the neighborhood and hunt for food.

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NO BORING STORIES: A bunny wants to help the other animals write a story, but they won’t let him because bunnies are too boring.

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STEWART’S BEST PEN: Stewart and his pen Craig are best friends, so when Craig disappears, Stewart’s the one who feels lost.

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HOW TO EAT PIZZA: A slice of pizza tries to convince the narrator not to eat him. Funny!

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WOKE BABY: A woke baby is up early, raises his fists in the air, cries out for justice, and grows up to change the world.

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WHAT’S FOR BREAKFAST: While practicing his swooping, Pip the owl crash-lands in the middle of Theodore the mouse’s breakfast.

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HAROLD LOVES HIS WOOLLY HAT: Harold feels like a very special bear in his woolly hat, so when it’s stolen, he has to get it back.

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STAR IN THE JAR: When a little boy stumbles across a lost star, he decides to take care of it.

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IS THAT YOU, ELEANOR SUE: Eleanor Sue is a master of disguise, but when her mother gets in on the act, anything can happen. Pretty darn cute!

Happy Book Birthday to THIS BOOK IS SPINELESS by Lindsay Leslie

  • Title: THIS BOOK IS SPINELESS
  • Author: Lindsay Leslie
  • Illustrator: Alice Brereton
  • Publisher: Page Street Kids
  • Release Date: February 19, 2019
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Summary: This Book Is Spineless … and wary … and absolutely unadventurous, and is freaking out about what story might be on its pages. The book takes the reader on a journey of its fears, navigating the book’s possible contents together. With each page turn, the book becomes a bit braver. This multilayered book incorporates the five senses, multiple literary genres, and various book parts, with the relationship between book and reader bringing everything together.
  • Author’s Site: https://lindsayleslie.com

Do you have a children’s picture book coming out soon? I’d love to wish it a Happy Book Birthday here on Frog on a Blog! CLICK for more information.

Happy Book Birthday to REMARKABLY YOU by Pat Zietlow Miller

  • Title: REMARKABLY YOU
  • Author: Pat Zietlow Miller
  • Illustrator: Patrice Barton
  • Publisher: HarperCollins
  • Release Date: February 5, 2019
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Summary: Heartfelt and timeless, Remarkably You is an inspirational manifesto about all of the things—big or small, loud or quiet—that make us who we are. With encouraging text by Pat Zietlow Miller and exuberant illustrations by Patrice Barton, readers will delight in all the ways they can be their remarkable selves.
  • Author’s Site: www.patzietlowmiller.com

Do you have a children’s picture book coming out soon? I’d love to wish it a Happy Book Birthday here on Frog on a Blog! CLICK for more information.

 

Picture Books At The Library 178

At The Library Too

I catalog hundreds of new picture books each year, and I read as many of them as I can. Unfortunately, I can’t review them all. But I can share them! Below are a few recent titles. (Summaries have been taken directly from the books whenever possible.) Check your local library or bookstore for availability.

Here are some 2018 titles you may have missed:

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PINE & BOOF BLAST OFF: Pine and Boof build a rocket so that they can return an egg from outer space to its nest. Fun!

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SPECTACULARLY BEAUTIFUL: Every day, Shahad came to school with perfect hair, but her perfect hair cannot hide her scars.

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NIGHT PLAY: A boy and his animal friends put on a stage play. Lift-the-flap pages

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ONCE UPON A SNOWSTORM: A boy, lost in the woods during a snowstorm, is aided by the forest animals. Wordless

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DREAMLAND: Amelie ventures into a fantastical world in order to uncover her favorite dreams.

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LOVED TO BITS: A boy relays the special relationship he has with his teddy bear. Rhyme

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ELEANOR WYATT PRINCESS AND PIRATE: Join Eleanor and her friends as they romp through tea parties and sword fights to discover the best treasure of all–being yourself. Rhyme

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THE CASE OF THE MISSING CHALK DRAWINGS: The chalks are drawing flowers on the chalkboard, but someone keeps stealing their artwork. Clever and fun!

 

Top 21 Circulating Picture Books of 2018

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Which picture books were checked out most often from the Community Library of DeWitt and Jamesville in 2018?

Our top circulating picture book will probably not be a big surprise: Disney Frozen. Movie and TV tie-ins will forever be popular with kids. It’s a fact of life. This particular version is actually a “look and find” concept book–not a true picture book, in my opinion, but the library has it cataloged as a picture book AND it circulated a whopping 20 times, so I felt it was worth noting in this year’s list.

Also making the list this year is the top book of 2017: Ellie in Concert. This book actually circulated two more times in 2018 (19 times) than in 2017 (17 times), yet wasn’t number one this time around. Interesting, huh?

The rest of the books in our top 21 include the ever-popular series Peppa Pig and Paw Patrol, another Frozen tie-in starring Olaf the snowman, and (Yay!) a beautiful mix of new and old stand alone favorites.

Circulated 20 Times:

This may seem like a small number, but when you consider that each book may be checked out for up to 3 weeks (21 days), that 20 times means the top book was checked out over and over for the entire year!

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Circulated 19 Times:

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Circulated 18 Times:

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Circulated 17 Times:

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30312820

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What are the top circulating picture books at your local library?

Take a look at the top circulating picture books at the Community Library of DeWitt & Jamesville in prior years:

Top 17 of 2017

Top 19 of 2016

Top 15 of 2015

Picture Books At The Library 177

At The Library Too

I catalog hundreds of new picture books each year, and I read as many of them as I can. Unfortunately, I can’t review them all. But I can share them! Below are a few recent titles. (Summaries have been taken directly from the books whenever possible.) Check your local library or bookstore for availability.

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A BOY AND A HOUSE: A boy follows a cat and a trail of drawings up several flights of stairs. Thought-provoking wordless story!

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EBENEZER HAS A WORD FOR EVERYTHING: No one appreciates Ebenezer’s word collection until he meets a friend who writes stories and could use a word or two.

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ANNA AT THE ART MUSEUM: Anna is bored at the art museum until she’s allowed into the secret workshop.

ERROL’S GARDEN: A young boy unites his community by starting a garden on the roof of his building.

UNDER THE SAME SKY: Though we live in different parts of the world, we all live under the same sky. Lovely illustrations!

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QUIET WYATT: A friendship is born when soft-spoken Wyatt is paired with outgoing Noreen on a class field trip.

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BENJI, THE BAD DAY, AND ME: Sammy is having a very bad day at school and at home until his autistic brother, Benji, finds a way to make him feel better. 

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CONSTRUCTION ZOO: It’s a quiet morning at the zoo until some strange new creatures roll in.

Picture Books At The Library 176

At The Library Too

I catalog hundreds of new picture books each year, and I read as many of them as I can. Unfortunately, I can’t review them all. But I can share them! Below are a few recent titles. (Summaries have been taken directly from the books whenever possible.) Check your local library or bookstore for availability.

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CARMELA FULL OF WISHES: Carmela, finally old enough to run errands with her brother, tries to think of the perfect wish after finding a lone dandelion.

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HOW COULD A BEAR SLEEP HERE?: Shelby the bear is ready to hibernate, but everywhere he tries to fall asleep is far too noisy.

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FIRST SNOW: Neighbor kids have fun in the snow together. Sweetly illustrated!

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SURPRISE!: Pals Bear, Raccoon, and Squirrel are eager to make friends with some city folk who visit the woods.

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ELBOW GREASE: A small electric truck with a lot of gumption, enters the Monster Truck Grand Prix to prove to his brothers that he is just as capable as they are. Fun, colorful art and a great message!

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DO YOU BELIEVE IN UNICORNS?: Narrator refuses to believe that a horse in a hat could be a unicorn in disguise. Humorous and sweet!

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JUST ADD GLITTER: A girl jazzes up a rainy, boring day with glitter. Fun!

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OCTOPUS ESCAPES!: Octopus slips out of his tank while the aquarium sleeps and leads the security guard on a merry chase.

Inspiring Young Readers with Facts and Fiction by Henry Herz

Please welcome picture book author Henry Herz back to Frog on a Blog. You may remember the interview I did with Henry last year. Or you may be familiar with one of his wonderful books. Just this year, three new picture books were published, and I recently discovered another is set to be published in February. Henry is on a roll! Henry’s stopped in today to talk a little about how Rudyard Kipling and the amazing diversity of the animal kingdom helped influence one of his latest books, How the Squid Got Two Long Arms, and how they can inspire your writing too, so that you can entertain and educate kids.

Rudyard Kipling is perhaps best known for his JUST SO STORIES, a compilation of delightful fictional explanations for why many animals are the way they are. Some of its short stories include: How the Whale Got His Throat, How the Camel Got His Hump, How the Rhinoceros Got His Skin, How the Leopard Got His Spots, and How the Elephant Got His Trunk.

Kipling

Kipling deserves credit not only for his impressive creativity, but also his mastery of language and humor. Here’s the glorious opening passage of How the Whale Got His Throat. “On the sea, once upon a time, O my Best Beloved, there was a Whale, and he ate fishes. He ate the starfish and the garfish, and the crab and the dab, and the plaice and the dace, and the skate and his mate, and the mackereel and the pickereel, and the really truly twirly-whirly eel. All the fishes he could find in all the sea he ate with his mouth—so! Till at last there was only one small fish left in all the sea, and he was a small ‘Stute Fish, and he swam a little behind the Whale’s right ear, so as to be out of harm’s way. Then the Whale stood up on his tail and said, ‘I’m hungry.’ And the small ‘Stute Fish said in a small ‘stute voice, ‘Noble and generous Cetacean, have you ever tasted Man?’”

I’ve been a fan of the JUST SO STORIES since my mom read them to me when I was a young child. I’m frequently amazed at the diversity of life on Earth. So, when I learned that two of a squid’s arms were longer than the others (don’t ask me why), I decided to write a picture book offering a “creative” explanation for that development. And I wanted to employ alliteration and lyrical language to evoke (and honor) Kipling.

The second influence in the writing of my book was one of my all-time favorites – the immensely talented Jon Klassen’s Caldecott-winning picture book, THIS IS NOT MY HAT, in which a little fish steals a big fish’s hat, and gets his comeuppance in the end. I liked the theme of “do unto others”, and I especially loved the irony of the unreliable narrator. To me, few things ring so true and are as funny as people’s ability to deceive themselves. Thus, with an admiring mashup of Kipling and Klassen, HOW THE SQUID GOT TWO LONG ARMS was, er, spawned.

Squid

Now, Kipling’s comic premise, the idea that an animal’s features that are modified after is birth (e.g., clipping a bird’s feathers) could somehow be genetically passed to its offspring has been discredited by Mendelian genetics. Although it did gain its own label: Larmarkism, after Jean-Baptiste Lamarck. Your immediate response should be: “Who cares? These are FICTIONAL tales.” And you’d be right. But I’d add that fact can be stranger than fiction. Here are a few crazy animal traits that evolved over time. These critters clearly all deserve their own Just So Story too. Go home Darwin, you’re drunk! 🙂

Mole

The Star-Nosed Mole (Condylura cristata)

With impressive digging claws and a face only a mother could love, the star-nosed mole’s claim to fame is the 22 appendages surrounding its nose. They are not olfactory, but rather touch organs that help the functionally blind mole find food. The journal Nature rates it the fastest-eating mammal, taking as little as 120 milliseconds to detect something, decide if it’s edible, and eat it. That is even faster than I can eat Boston crème pie.

Seadragon

The Leafy Seadragon (Phycodurus eques)

This master of disguise looks like something right out of a high fantasy novel. When not simply drifting, movement is achieved by the small, nearly transparent pectoral and dorsal fins. Its leafy protrusions do not aid in propulsion. Their only purpose is camouflage. It’s built for stealth, not speed. As if that’s not enough, they can change color to further blend in with seaweed. Now you see me, now you don’t.

Anteater

The Giant Anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla)

This seven-foot long, 90-lb. pin-striped mammal is a walking vacuum cleaner. While its huge bushy tail is impressive, its foot-long snout is what makes it a fuzzy terror to ants and termites alike. Technically, it’s the tongue that shoots 18 inches out of the snout that gives insects nightmares. The anteater has poor eyesight, but a sense of smell 40 times more powerful than humans. That, combined with huge digging claws make mincemeat out of anthills or termite mounds. Adding insult to injury, the anteater doesn’t even produce its own stomach acid. Its digestion is aided by the formic acid provided by its prey. Now, that’s just lazy.

Mother Nature gives us authors so much material with which to work. I hope these wonders of the natural world with exaggerated features increase your appetite for how fiction and non-fiction are both terrific ways to entertain kids and inspire them to learn.

Henry Herz Henry Herz has an engineering Bachelors from Cornell, an engineering Masters from George Washington U., and a national security studies Masters from Georgetown, none of which helps him write fantasy and science fiction for children. He is represented by Deborah Warren of East/West Literary Agency. Henry is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI). He participates in literature panels at a variety of conventions, including San Diego Comic-Con and WonderCon. Henry reviews children’s books for the San Francisco Book Review and the San Diego Book Review.

For more about Henry and his books, please visit his Website.

Picture Books At The Library 175

At The Library Too

I catalog hundreds of new picture books each year, and I read as many of them as I can. Unfortunately, I can’t review them all. But I can share them! Below are a few recent titles. (Summaries have been taken directly from the books whenever possible.) Check your local library or bookstore for availability.

Check out the very different art styles in this selection of picture books! All terrific!

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WINTER IS HERE: Kids experience the joys and hardships of winter and look forward to spring. Lovely art!

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NEVER LET YOU GO: A celebration of the bond between parent and child.

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THE SNOWY NAP: After hearing about winter from his friends, Hedgie the hedgehog tries to stay awake to experience its wonders.

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AM I YOURS?: Several friendly dinosaurs help a lost egg get reunited with its parents. Sweet and a fun read aloud!

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NEW YORK MELODY: A stray musical note explores the sounds of New York City. Beautiful lasercut illustrations!

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HANSEL & GRETEL: In a fairy tale twist, Hansel and Gretel ransack Willow the good witch’s gingerbread cottage.

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I AM ACTUALLY A PENGUIN: A girl loves her penguin outfit so much that she never wants to take it off.

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A HOME IN THE BARN: As winter approaches, all the animals, from the horses to the mice, find comfort in the barn.

 

 

 

Book Review: ALMA AND HOW SHE GOT HER NAME: A teacher and writer’s perspective by Laura Roettiger

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I spent most of my teaching career at a school with a population of over 90% Latinx. When I heard about Alma and How She Got Her Name, by Juana Martinez-Neal, it was especially interesting to me because I miss my Chicago students and imagined them hearing the book. Lucky for me, I have a wonderful group of students here in Colorado to read to, coming from a variety of ethnicities.

The basic premise of Alma, is she thinks her name is too long, until her father explains to her how she got the name Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela. It’s a lovely story celebrating family, tradition, and being proud of who you are.

I can turn any book into a lesson and an activity after years of teaching. With Alma, the teaching extension wrote itself. When I first told them there would be homework, they protested, but when I explained what it would be, the energy in the room shifted to enthusiasm. The children were given a graphic organizer and sent home with the task of asking their parents about the origin story of their names.

story of your name graphic

As the children returned with their homework, I learned one of them is named after a WWE wrestler that his father likes and another is named for an NFL player. One is named for a Disney character, and another is named for a character in a movie her mom liked. The stories of aunts, uncles, grandparents were also shared on the page and in class. Many of them didn’t know these stories before the assignment and that is a tribute to Juana Martinez-Neal and her inspiring story.

As a picture book writer, I’ve been studying different aspects of craft and I believe this book is a perfect example of heart. Julie Hedlund, founder of the picture book challenge 12×12, talks about how heart is so important in picture books. I find it hard to define heart, but easy to find examples. The illustrations, also the work of Juana Martinez-Neal, are unique and match the story perfectly, complete with sepia toned drawings that look like old photographs.

This book earns 5 stars from me because its simple message is full of heart and it created a wonderful family project for my students. I’m sure many families would find this to be inspirational.

Laura R

Laura Roettiger is the author of the picture book Aliana Reaches for the Moon (Eifrig Publishing, 2019) She has enjoyed working with children ever since she was no longer considered a child herself. She was a reading specialist and elementary teacher in Chicago, IL before moving to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado where she worked in Environmental Education and is now a mentor for reading and writing at a STEM school. Her superpower is encouraging curiosity in children and letting them know she believes in them. Laura has three children of her own, all of whom were led by curiosity and creativity into STEM-related professions. Laura is also a part of #PictureBookBuzz, a group of authors with books being released in 2019.

Find Laura on Twitter @ljrwritenow and at her website LauraRoettigerBooks.com.

Picture Books At The Library 174

At The Library Too

I catalog hundreds of new picture books each year, and I read as many of them as I can. Unfortunately, I can’t review them all. But I can share them! Below are a few recent titles. (Summaries have been taken directly from the books whenever possible.) Check your local library or bookstore for availability.

 

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ROCK WHAT YA GOT: An artist, displeased with her drawing, tries to make it better, but the figure, Viva, comes to life and proclaims that she’s happy just the way she it. Fun!

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LUCIA THE LUCHADORA: Lucia becomes exasperated when her bothersome little sister makes a big hole in her mask. 

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UP THE MOUNTAIN PATH: Every Sunday, Mrs. Badger walks the mountain path alone, until the day she meets Lulu and everything changes.

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SEA PRAYER: When the sun rises, a father and son gather their possessions and join others as they embark on a perilous sea journey in search of a new home. Moving and powerful!

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A PRAYER FOR THE ANIMALS: A special blessing for all animals around the world. Lovely!

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LITTLE PENGUIN STAYS AWAKE: Penguin tries really hard to stay awake so that he can wish on a shooting star.

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GATOR, GATOR, GATOR!: Join a little girl on her quest to find a gator.

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PEARL: Pearl is heartbroken when her mother asks her to tend to a mere grain of sand. Another beautiful Molly Idle book!

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OLIVER: Just when Oliver resigns himself to always being the second largest living thing on Earth, he meets other trees who help him realize he’s part of something even larger.

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PTERODACTYL SHOW AND TELL: When one boy brings his pterodactyl to class for show-and-tell, pandemonium prevails.

Picture Books At The Library 173

At The Library Too

I catalog hundreds of new picture books each year, and I read as many of them as I can. Unfortunately, I can’t review them all. But I can share them! Below are a few recent titles. (Summaries have been taken directly from the books whenever possible.) Check your local library or bookstore for availability.

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CAPTAIN RAPTOR AND THE PERILOUS PLANET: Captain Raptor and his crew rush to help rescue scientists who are trapped on an unstable planet with a volcano about to erupt.

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OUR CELEBRACION!: A rain shower does not dampen a Latino family’s enjoyment of their town’s parade and summer celebration.

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SWEET DREAMING: Molly’s mother imagines stories to lull her to sleep, from swooping birds to a quiet beach, and soon one of them falls asleep.

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THE HOUSE OF LOST AND FOUND: A neighbor boy asks Niles, a lonely old man, to look after his plant while he’s away. Beautifully illustrated!

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THE SNOWFLAKE MISTAKE: Princess Ellie is left in charge of the magical snowflake machine.

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SING TO THE MOON: A young Ugandan boy and his grandfather have fun together on a rainy day.

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COUNTING DINOS: Join a gang of dinosaurs as they go from one to ten and learn to see their world in a new way. Fun and colorful read aloud!

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CRAFTY LLAMA: Llama likes to knit while she thinks, but Beaver will only make something if it’s useful.

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ALL ARE WELCOME: In one very special school, diversity is celebrated and songs, stories, and talents are shared. Awesome message!

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HIKING DAY: Going on a hike for the very first time is an adventure for one young girl.

Picture Books At The Library 172

At The Library Too

I catalog hundreds of new picture books each year, and I read as many of them as I can. Unfortunately, I can’t review them all. But I can share them! Below are a few recent titles. (Summaries have been taken directly from the books whenever possible.) Check your local library or bookstore for availability.

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LORRAINE, THE GIRL WHO SANG THE STORM AWAY: When Pa Paw and Lorraine’s instruments come up missing during a fearsome storm, Lorraine finds the music inside herself to get them through.   

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A KISS FOR AKARAKA: A girl spends time with her father who playfully includes his daughter’s imaginary friend Akaraka. Lovely art!

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ZOLA’S ELEPHANT: A girl hesitates to initiate friendship with her new neighbor Zola because she imagines Zola is busy with her elephant friend. Beautifully illustrated and unique!

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HOW THE SQUID GOT TWO LONG ARMS: A mischievous squid steals clothes from the other animals until they fight back, leaving him with two long arms in the process. 

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MAX AND THE SUPERHEROES: Max is crazy about superheroes, especially Megapower, who is someone very special to him.

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QUIET: Two children learn from their grandfather how to be quiet and still and appreciate the world around them.

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A VERY LATE STORY: After several creatures show up and realize they’re in a book, they decide to wait for their story to begin.

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A GOOD DAY FOR DUCKS: A brother and sister play outside on a rainy day.

Picture Books At The Library 171

At The Library Too

I catalog hundreds of new picture books each year, and I read as many of them as I can. Unfortunately, I can’t review them all. But I can share them! Below are a few recent titles. (Summaries have been taken directly from the books whenever possible.) Check your local library or bookstore for availability.

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THE NIGHT BOX: When a boy opens the Night Box, darkness swoops out, taking light’s place, and night flows freely until morning comes to replace it again.

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TAKE YOUR OCTOPUS TO SCHOOL DAY: Tired of being second best, Sam is determined to “win” at show-and-tell, especially on Take Your Octopus To School Day.

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JOSIE’S LOST TOOTH: Josie finally loses a baby tooth, but when she for-real loses it, she needs a substitute tooth to leave for the Tooth Fairy.

SCAREDY BEAR: A brave little bunny goes in search of the scary creature known as the Big Hairy.

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GOOD MORNING, NEIGHBOR: A group of animals goes in search of the ingredients needed to make a cake.

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WILD ORCA: A girl named Mia hopes she will catch a glimpse of Granny, the oldest orca, during Orca Sing in the San Juan Islands.

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FAST ASLEEP IN A LITTLE VILLAGE IN ISRAEL: Various sounds keep Mrs. Strauss awake, but when the first rain of the season comes, it quiets everything else.

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NIGHT JOB: When the sun sets, a boy helps his dad clean the school.

 

 

Book Review MAXIMILLIAN VILLAINOUS: A Teacher And Writer’s Perspective by Laura Roettiger

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Everything about the book Maximillian Villainous (Running Press Kids, 2018) made me know it was going to be a hit at school. To be honest, I was excited to find this book at the library and I knew my enthusiasm would add to their interest. The title alone captured the imagination of the children who wanted to know more about this villainous monster. But wait, Max isn’t a villain! And right away, the author had us engaging with the main character.

The class of second and third graders may not know about the rule of three, expertly employed by author Margaret Chiu Greanias, but they sure appreciated the way it was woven into the story. The three tasks for Max: “1. Steal something 2. Make someone cry 3. Gain fame by being devious” are cleverly highlighted in the illustrations so that children focused on the list. We even compared it to the classroom rules, which was fun and another way to interact with the story. Of course, the students explained the tasks were the opposite of what they should be, demonstrating that the author and illustrator did a great job engaging the readers early in the story.

As a picture book writer, I’ve been studying different aspects of craft and I know how important page turns are. This book is a model of page turns done well. I’d like to mention two excellent examples. The first that attracted attention (read children needed to chime in with their predictions) involved the bunnies digging in the Sandman’s stash of magic sleeping dust. Many of the children knew what would come next. The other is when Max has an idea, complete with the villainous “Mua-ha-Ha!” This was definitely the class’s favorite part of the book (read everyone was making the sound and believed Max was turning into a villain like the rest of his family.) Well played, Margaret!

The illustrations (by Lesley Breen Withrow) in Maximillian Villainous are fantastic. They are colorful, full of wonderful detail, but not too busy, and whimsical, matching the tone of the story. Even the way the Illustrations were laid out on the pages and the use of signs and notes created a high level of interest for the children and for me.

This book definitely earns 5 stars from me because it’s got humor and heart on every page. Additionally, it allowed for a fun reading lesson learning about problem and solution in a story where they weren’t as obvious as in many books. This helped me know what the children understood and which ones needed more help. It is more proof that picture books are excellent vehicles for learning.

Laura R

Laura Roettiger is the author of the picture book Aliana Reaches for the Moon (Eifrig Publishing, 2019) She has enjoyed working with children ever since she was no longer considered a child herself. She was a reading specialist and elementary teacher in Chicago, IL before moving to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado where she worked in Environmental Education and is now a mentor for reading and writing at a STEM school. Her superpower is encouraging curiosity in children and letting them know she believes in them. Laura has three children of her own, all of whom were led by curiosity and creativity into STEM-related professions. Laura is also a part of #PictureBookBuzz, a group of authors with books being released in 2019.

Find Laura on Twitter @ljrwritenow and at her website LauraRoettigerBooks.com.

Picture Books At The Library 170

At The Library Too

I catalog hundreds of new picture books each year, and I read as many of them as I can. Unfortunately, I can’t review them all. But I can share them! Below are a few recent titles. (Summaries have been taken directly from the books whenever possible.) Check your local library or bookstore for availability.

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GIRAFFE PROBLEMS: A giraffe goes on and on about how awful his neck is until he meets another animal who needs his help.

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HOW TO BE A T. REX: When Sal grows up, she’s going to be a Tyrannosaurus Rex because being human can be a real drag.

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HEY, WALL: Armed with pencils, paints, dreams, and Grandma Addy’s memories of how beautiful the neighborhood once was, Angel and others paint the cold, empty wall.

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THIS IS A CIRCLE: Circles and squares are introduced as a most unusual group of friends sings, sails, huffs, and puffs. Fun!

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A DOG NAMED HAKU: During a Hindu festival in Kathmandu, Nepal, brothers Alu and Bhalu search for a dog they can honor with food and gratitude.

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ERASER: Eraser is tired of cleaning up everyone else’s mistakes and wants to create instead.

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AN UNLIKELY BALLERINA: A small, frail girl with wobbly legs and turned-out toes becomes the first Jewish prima ballerina assoluta in history.

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CROW NOT CROW: A girl accompanies her father for the first time on a birding expedition and learns how to identify several birds.

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THE REMEMBER BALLOONS: James has a bunch of balloons, each of which holds a special memory, but he notices that as his grandfather ages, he loses balloons, while James gains new ones.

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KITTEN AND THE NIGHT WATCHMAN: Being a night watchman is a lonely job, especially when you’re away from your family.