How to Heal a Broken Wing

How to Heal a Broken Wing9780763639037_p0_v1_s260x420How to Heal a Broken Wing

Bob Graham, Author and Illustrator

Candlewick Press, Fiction, 2008

Suitable for Ages: 3-8

Themes: Birds, Compassion, Healing

Opening: “High above the city, no one heard the soft thud of feathers against glass.  No one saw the bird fall.  No one looked down…except Will.”

Synopsis:  When Will finds a bird with a broken wing lying on the pavement, he gently picks it up and takes it home to care for it.  His  parents help bandage the wing and Will  lovingly feeds and nurtures the bird back to health.  With rest and a little hope, the bird may fly again.

Why I like this book:  Bob Graham’s lyrical tory celebrates the compassion of a small boy for an injured bird.  Graham writes with such simplicity (text is under 75 words) and with double page spreads that show the story with contrasts and beautiful detail.  Many spreads have no words just rich illustrations done in pen, watercolor and chalk.   Children are loving by nature and like caring for injured animals.  They will enjoy pouring over the detail on each page to see if Will is able to save the bird. This is such a touching and uplifting story for children.  Bob Graham is a leading Australian author and illustrator recognized internationally for his work.

Resources:  Visit the Audubon website for activities and resources about birth watching, bird counting at home and at school.  You can even adopt a bird. They have a range of activities for all ages groups that fit the core curriculum.   Visit a pond to teach kids about water birds.  Observe migratory birds in the spring and autumn. Make bird houses, set up bird baths and make winter bird treats.

Every Friday authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book.  Although PPBF is on a summer break until September, you can still view a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books with resources, at author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.

Rainforest Adventure

untitledRainforest Adventure: A Fun and Educational Kids Yoga Poem Book

Thereza Howling, Author

Luciana Lastre Conceicao, Illustrator

CreateSpace Independent Publishing,  Nonfication, March 28, 2014

Suitable for Ages: 2-10

Themes: Yoga for children, Poetry, Rainforest, Imagination

Opening: “Beautiful and vast rainforests have many trees clustered together. Being warm year-round with lots of rain make up for their humid weather.” (Pose: tree)

Book Synopsis: The Rainforest Adventure book was created with the intention of sharing some of the good things that happened during Kids Yoga classes. Much like lessons at school or homeschool, we can adapt yoga poses to any theme we would like. The theme for this book is presented in the form of a poem to keep up with the attention span of the younger kids while also showing older kids that poems can be quite interesting, full of action and color, and ready to come alive! By doing the poses illustrated next to the verses, we can make this little adventure turn into reality, and learn in a fun way.

What I like about this book: Thereza Howling has written a book that teaches children about yoga postures that will help them learn to better focus, tune into feelings and sensations, release stress, and encourage imagination. She has used a rainforest theme and cleverly adapted yoga poses to showcase its many wonders: a tree, waterfall, monkey, snake, lizard, parrot,  butterfly, and dolphin. The text is simple, fun and engaging. The double-page spread has a specific pose with instructions on the left side of the page. The right side of the page has colorful and lively illustrations that relate to each pose. This is a very creative effort by the author and illustrator. A portion of the proceeds for the book will go to the Rainforest Alliance, an organization committed to help rainforests all around the world.

Resources: The first page of the book explains how to use the book in a safe way. The end pages offer more ways to use this book that encourage creativity and imagination.  There are two sets of eight yoga memory pose cards.  Visit Thereza Howling’s website for more ideas for poses within the poems and other activities related to the book. The author is a certified yoga instructor and teaches children, teens and adults in Washington State.

Fly Away

Fly Away9781442460089_p0_v3_s260x420Fly Away

Patricia MacLachlan, Author

Margaret K. McElderry Books, Fiction, April 2014

Suitable for ages: 7 -10

Themes: Family Life, Brothers and sisters, Floods, Farms, Poets, Music

Book Jacket: “Family means — offering help when it’s not asked for, accepting help when you think you don’t need it, sharing joys, keeping secrets, and singing your song. Unless you’re Lucy and you can’t carry a tune. Lucy thinks she has no voice. But family means — even if you’re sure you can’t sing, you’ll be heard.”

Synopsis: Lucy and her family (and Mama’s chickens) pack into an old Volkswagen bus and travel across Minnesota to spend the summer with her Aunt Frankie in North Dakota. They time their annual visit to help Aunt Frankie plan for the flooding of the Red River.  When they reach the Red River, it is high and flowing fast.  Lucy’s mother, Maggie, remembers the dangers from her childhood.

Lucy has a secret. Everyone in her family sings, but she can’t. Her father, Boots, loves opera, her mother likes Langhorne Slim and her younger sister, Gracie, sings in a high perfect voice. When Lucy opens her mouth nothing comes out. Even her little brother Teddy, who can’t talk, can sing. He sneaks into her bedroom at night and coaxes Lucy to sing with him. His sweet “la la la’s” are pitch perfect and no one knows but Lucy. As the flood waters recede and the house is safe, another crisis occurs when Teddy turns up missing. Will Lucy find her voice and save him in a way no one else can?

Why I like this book: With the heavy rains and major flooding we are experiencing across the country, Patricia MacLachlan chooses the perfect time to release a new book for children about this phenomenon of nature. It is a story that touches the readers emotions. I love the quirky nature of Lucy’s family, the secrets, the fears, the joys and the strong family bonds that keep the family afloat during a dangerous flood.  Fly Away is poetic and written simply for young readers wanting to read longer chapter books. The plot is engaging, well-paced and full of adventure. This is a great summer read and is 107 pages.

Patricia MacLachlan is a Newberry Medalist for her book Sarah, Plain and Tall. I reviewed her powerful 2013 picture book about grief and renewal, Snowflakes Fall, which was dedicated to the families of Newtown and Sandy Hook, CT.  I also reviewed The Truth of Me, another middle grade novel about complicated family relationships.

 

 

 

Leah’s Voice

Leah's Voice9781612442402_p0_v1_s260x420Leah’s Voice

Lori DeMonia, Author

Monique Turchan, Illustrator

Halo Publishing International, Fiction, 2013

Suitable for ages: 5-8 years

Themes: Autism Spectrum, Siblings, Differences, Compassion, Kindness, Special Needs

Opening: Logan stood at the window waiting with excitement. Her friend Abby was coming over for her very first play date. As soon as a car pulled in the drive, Logan yelled out, “She’s here!” 

Synopsis: Logan looks forward to a play date with her friend Abby. She introduces Abby to her older sister Leah. They play a board game and invite Leah to play. But Leah leaves the room after her turn. Abby is upset that Leah won’t stay and play. Logan explains that her sister is uncomfortable around new people. Abby tells Logan that “next time we’ll play at my house.” Logan is sad about how her friend treats Leah and wonders why she doesn’t like her. Logan thinks about the similarities and differences between her and Leah. Her mother takes them to a movie and Leah has a melt down and ruins the day. Logan is angry and confused. Her parents explain that Leah has autism and that’s why she doesn’t talk much and gets upset easily. Logan tries to be patient and focuses on what Leah loves best, drawing pictures.

Why I like this book: Lori DeMonia knows first hand the confusion and challenge for a sibling who has an autistic sister or brother.  It is a fictional story inspired by her daughters. The story is told with such simplicity that young children will be able to read and understand. Siblings don’t know how to explain it to their friends. They are embarrassed by their behavior and angry when they have meltdowns and ruin family outings. Leah’s Voice is an important story about accepting differences and treating others with respect and kindness. It is perfect for the classroom. Monique Turchan’s illustrations are colorful and lively. They beautifully capture the emotion of the story.

Awards:  2014 Temple Grandin Outstanding Literary Work of the Year award from the Autism Society of America, the Mom’s Choice Award, the New York Book Festival 2013 Honorable Mention Award,  and the London Book Festival 2013 Honorable Mention Award.

Resources: Visit the website for Leah’s Voice to  see Leah’s artwork and find printable pages. For information about autism visit the Austism Society website.

Bad Bye, Good Bye — Book Giveaway

Bad Bye9780547928524_p0_v1_s260x420Bad Bye, Good Bye

Deborah Underwood, Author

Jonathan Bean, Illustrator

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Fiction, 2014

Suitable for ages: 4-8

Themes: Moving, Packing up a household, Saying good-bye, New home and friends

Opening: “Bad day/Bad box/Bad mop/Bad blocks/Bad truck/Bad guy/Bad wave/Bad bye.”

Book Jacket Synopsis: Change is hard. And when you’re moving away from your old home and your old friends, GOOD BYE can feel like BAD BYE.  But could your new town hold surprises that turn BAD BYE into a GOOD BYE again? BAD BYE, GOOD BYE is perfect for moving day or any of life’s tough transitions.

Why I like this book: Deborah Underwood uses minimal text in the form of two-word phrases on each page to tell this heartwarming story about a family moving. Jonathan Bean’s colorful collage-like watercolor illustrations show the roller coaster of emotions the boy and girl feel as pack up their home, say goodbye to friends and travel by car to a new city,  house and school. The story has a nice rhythmic feel as well as rhyming. “New house/New hall/New room/New wall.” For some children change is harder than for others. This book will be a great comfort for children on the move this summer to new homes before the next school year begins. BAD BYE, GOOD BYE  can be used when there are other physical changes and separations (divorce, job or military) and grief.

Deborah Underwood is the New York Times best-selling San Francisco-base author of The Quiet Book and The Loud Book. Visit Deborah’s  website.

Jonathan Bean’s illustration accolades include the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award and the Ezra Jack Keats Award.  Visit Jonathan’s website.

Book Giveaway:  I will be giving away one copy of BAD BYE, GOOD BYE. All you have to do is leave a comment and indicate whether you’d like to be in the drawing. I will announce the winner next Wednesday, June 25.

Ice Dogs by Terry Lynn Johnson

IIce Doge9780547899268_p0_v1_s260x420ce Dogs

Terry Lynn Johnson

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Fiction, 2014

Suitable for Ages: 10-14

Themes: Sled dogs, Alaska, Wilderness, Survival, Grief

Opening: All eight of my dogs are stretched in front of me in pairs along the gangline. They claw the ground in frustration as the loudspeaker blares. “Here’s team number five. Our hometown girl, fourteen-year-old Victoria Secord!”

Synopsis:  Victoria is a dogsled racer in Alaska. Since the recent death of her father, who taught her everything she knows about being a musher, she pours herself into training her dogs and preparing for the White Wolf Classic. On a routine run, she comes across Chris who is injured in a snowmobile accident. A fast-approaching blizzard catches Victoria by surprise and covers her sled trails. She finds herself lost in the frozen wilderness with little food or protection. Her real race becomes one of survival against time. Will she be able to save Chris and herself?

Why I like this book: This inspiring and gripping story by Terry Lynn Johnson, is a page turner. Johnson, who once owned  and raced 18 Alaskan huskies, knows how beautiful, peaceful and unforgiving the wilderness can be. Reading a novel based on Johnson’s knowledge and experience makes for great realistic fiction and a very vivid setting. Her plot is fast-paced with high-adventure, danger, courage and hope. Her main characters, Victoria and Chris, are well-developed. The story is narrated by Victoria, a fiercely independent, strong, brave, and smart teen coping with the tragic death of her father in the wilderness. She is determined to carry on his legacy as a musher. Chris, a city boy from Toronto, offers a bit of comic relief. Their relationship is full of tension, emotion and complexity. He steps up to the plate and works with Victoria in a race for their survival. Ice Dogs is a spellbinding story that will appeal to young readers. Visit Terry Lynn Johnson at her website where you can view a video, read interesting information, and check out her blog.  Johnson is a conservation officer in Whitefish Falls, Ontario, Canada.

A special thank you to Amanda at Born Bookish, who first introduced me to Ice Dogs. Click on her blog to read her review.

Tugboat

Tugboat9780823428663_p0_v1_s260x420Tugboat

Michael Garland, Author and Illustrator

Holiday House,  Nonfiction, 2014

Suitable for ages: 4-7

Themes: Tugboats do big jobs, Transportation

Opening: “The day begins. The tugboat rests at the dock.”

Synopsis: The red tugboat named the Hudson is docked and waiting for the crew to board. The little boat is ready to do big jobs. It tugs large cargo ships into a port, pulls heavy barges filled with coal or stinky garbage, nudges a cruise ship into port, pulls tall ships and tows a barge carrying the Willis Avenue Bridge.  The tugboat may seem small, but it works in all kinds of weather and is built to do important jobs that other larger boats can’t do alone.

Why I like this book: This is another captivating early reader for children  by Michael Garland. The text is very simple for young children to read to themselves. Kids will also learn about the adventures of the tugboat and the life and the activity of the crew on board.  If you look closely the captain of the tugboat will look very familiar. Children will pour over the double-page spreads of Garland’s colorful digital illustrations. They are stunning, realistic and give children a feel for how important a tugboat is to transportation. Tugboat is a keeper that will be read again and again. Garland has published two other early reader books, Fish Had a Wish and Car Goes Far, which are ideal for kids in preschool and kindergarten.

Resources:  Garland includes a glossary at the end of the many types of boats a tugboat assists. He includes a page about the Willis Avenue Bridge which was towed on a barge down the Hudson River from Albany to New York City.  If you live near a large river like the Mississippi River or along the coasts where tugboats are visible, plan a field trip to show children how hard the tugboats work. Check out Michael Garland’s website for information about all of his books.

Congratulations Susanna Leonard Hill for the 100th Picture Book Friday!!! Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

Half a Chance by Cynthia Lord

Half a Chance9780545035330_p0_v2_s260x420Half a Chance

Cynthia Lord, Author

Scholastic Press, Fiction, Feb. 25, 2014

Suitable for Ages: 8-12

Themes: Moving, Photography, Friendship, Dementia

Synopsis: Twelve-year-old Lucy Emery’s family has moved to an old cottage on a New Hampshire lake. Her father is a famous photographer and takes off on another travel shoot before the family settles. Lucy misses her father and is tired of starting over again.  When she discovers that her father is judging a photography contest for youth, she is eager to enter to see if she has talent.  She enters anonymously. She studies the photo scavenger hunt list and begins to take photos of her new lake surroundings. Lucy meets her neighbor Nate and his family, who visit their  Grandmother Lilah at her cottage every summer. Nate likes Lucy’s photographs and wants to help her with the contest. Lucy enjoys being with Nate’s family and learns that his grandmother is a naturalist. Since Grandmother Lilah is in poor health, Nate invites Lucy to help with the family “Loon Patrol.” Their goal is to help keep the endangered loons safe, carefully document their activity in a journal and report their findings. Lucy photographs the loons and  the birth of their chicks. Through her photos of the loons, the mountains, the lake and the community, Lucy also captures pictures of Grandmother’ Lilah’s memory loss, something that Nate’s not ready to see.

Why I like this book: This is a heartwarming coming of age story by Cynthia Lord, author of the 2007 Newbery Honor book Rules. It is a lazy summer read that is so captivating that you feel like you’re there with Lucy, Nate and the lake. Half a Chance is packed with adventure, wonder, friendship, artistic endeavors, and nature. Lord’s characters are realistic and engaging. The story is narrated by Lucy who gives readers a good feel for life on the lake. She struggles with ambivalence towards her father and a need for him to notice her photographic work. She encounters rivalry and the complexities of new friendships. Nate deals with Grandmother Lilah’s dementia. The plot is well-paced and readers won’t want the story to end. It is a fresh concept for a story with a satisfying ending. I highly recommend this book for tweens. Click here to visit Cynthia Lord’s website.

My Name is Blessing

My Name is Blessing9781770493018_p0_v1_s260x420My Name is Blessing

Eric Walters, Author

Eugenie Fernandes, Illustrator

Tundra Books,  Fiction, 2013

Suitable for ages: 6-9

Themes: Kenya, Poverty, Disability, Orphan Crisis, Hope

Opening: “Muthini watched his grandmother stirring the big pot. He knew there would be not much to eat. But whatever there was would be shared equally among her nine grandchildren. They lined up, oldest to youngest. Muthini was lastUsing the two fingers of his right hand he scooped up some porridge.”

Synopsis: Muthini and his grandmother, Nyanya, live in rural Kenya near the mountains. Nyanya barely makes enough money to support nine orphaned grandchildren. Muthini, whose name means “suffering” is the youngest and was born with no fingers on his left hand and only two on his right. He is teased by others. When he asks his grandmother why he as fewer fingers she tells him “we are each given more of some things and less of others.” ” It is so sad that other children only have ten fingers when you have a larger heart, a bigger brain, and greater spirit.” One day his grandmother realizes that she is too old to help Muthini. She takes him to a special residential home/school for children without families, where he meets the director. Gabriel, looks at Muthini’s hands and only sees his potential. But Gabriel will only accept Muthini if he changes his name to Baraka, which means blessing.

Why I like this book:  Eric Walters’ story is about a real boy named Baraka and his grandmother, Grace. His text is very lyrical and heartwarming. His extraordinary story begins by showing Muthini’s disability as a misfortune.  But Gabriel focuses on Baraka and his great heart and spirit. Baraka is a blessing and not one who suffers.  Eugenie Fernandes’ acrylic illustrations are done in soft browns and yellows hues and capture both the emotion and spirit of the story.  He gives great detail to facial expressions.

Resources: There are five pages of back matter about Baraka and his grandmother. Walters shares information about the Mbooni Region of Kenya — the poverty, famine and disease which leaves 500 children orphaned. He chronicles his 2007 visit with photographs of Grace and her family, their meager living conditions and the region. Walters response to what he sees by founding The Creation of Hope, a residential care center for children. You can read about Eric Walter’s work in the book and on his website. Make sure you check out the page devoted to the Creation of Hope.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.