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.

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.

The Little Word Catcher

The Little Word Catcher9781897187449_p0_v1_s260x420The Little Word Catcher

By Danielle Simard, Author

Genevieve Cote, Illustrator

Second Story Press, Fiction, 2008

Suitable for Ages: 5-8

Themes: Grandparents, Memory Loss, Family Relationships

Opening: “Did you know that words could get lost? My Grandmother misplaces her words all the time. She loses them even more often than her keys. Do they fly off just to play tricks on her? I wonder where they go.”

Synopsis: Elise watches her grandmother begin to lose her words. Sometimes her grandmother is sad. annoyed, and frustrated when she can’t remember her words.  Elise is puzzled because her grandmother knew millions of words. Are her words hiding? Can she catch every single lost word in a net and bring them back to her grandmother before it’s too late?  A special bond develops between grandmother and granddaughter.  And Elise decides that her grandmother’s words are wearing out like an old dress. And maybe her grandmother is giving the words they shared to her as a gift.

What I like about this book:  Danielle Simard has written a moving and sensitive story about a girl trying to make sense of her grandmother’s memory loss.  I especially like how Simard allows the girl to come up with her own heartwarming thoughts about memory loss and how she chooses to deal with her grandma. Such beautiful and inspiring text with a loving and satisfying ending.  This is one of the most unusual stories I’ve read about grandparents with memory loss or dementia. I highly recommend The Little Word Catcher if you have aging loved ones with memory issues. Genevieve Cote’s award-winning watercolors are whimsical and emotive. They add some lightness to a serious topic.

Resources: The book alone is a great resource to use to start a discussion with your children when you have aging parents with memory loss. Parents may want to check out the Kids and Teen page of the Alzheimer’s Association and a post from the Carolina Parent blog about Talking to Kids About Aging Grandparents.

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.

 

 

Visiting Feelings

Visiting Feelings514j9vickLL__SX258_BO1,204,203,200_Visiting Feelings

Lauren Rubenstein, Ph.D., Author

Shelly Hehenberger, Illustrator

Magination Press,  Fiction, Sept. 28, 2013

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Themes: Being aware of feelings, Mindfulness,Yoga

Opening: “Do you have a feeling that’s visiting today?/Can you open your door and invite it to play?/Can you ask what it wants, and then check it out?/Welcome it and listen to what it’s about?”

Synopsis from Book Jacket: Visiting Feelings harnesses a young child’s innate capacity to fully experience the present moment. Rather than label or define specific emotions and feelings, Visiting Feelings invites children to sense, explore and befriend all of their feelings with acceptance and equanimity. Children can explore their emotions with their senses and gain an understanding of how feelings can lodge in the body, as conveyed by the common expressions like “a pit in the stomach” or “a lump in the throat.”

Why I like this book: Lauren Rubenstein has written a very poetic and sensitive book that helps children explore their feelings.  I wish I had this book when my daughter was young. She encourages kids to make friends with their feelings, get to know them, and find where they settle in their body. Rubenstein cleverly uses beautiful metaphors like: “Is it bright like the sun?/Dark like the rain?/Or is it a look you can’t even explain?” and “Is it warm or cold?/Sour or sweet?/Does it shiver with fear when the two of you meet?” and “How did this feeling enter your house?/ Did it barge right in!/Was it shy like a mouse?” Shelly Hehenberger’s illustrations are whimsical and dreamy lulling the reader along and adding to the  rhythm of the story. The illustrations are created digitally using hand-painted textures and overlays.

Resources: A clinical psychologist, Rubenstein includes a double- page spread  at the end of  the book with suggestions on how to teach children to practice mindfulness and nurture their emotional intelligence.  It is all about learning to stop and be aware of the moment. This is a wonderful book for parents and educators. She also believes in teaching children yoga.  Proceeds from Visiting Feelings will be donated to the Go Give Yoga Foundation, where she teaches yoga and mindfulness to children and adolescents in Haiti.

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.

Going Places

Going Places9781442466081_p0_v3_s260x420Going Places

Peter and Paul Reynolds

Atheneum Books for Young Readers, Fiction,  Mar. 18, 2014

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Themes: Creative ability, Go-carts, Race, Imagination, Teamwork

Opening: “Rafael had been waiting all year long for the Going Places contest, a chance to build a go-cart, race it…and win.”

Synopsis: Rafael wastes no time in opening his “Going Places”kit and reads the instructions with a magnifying glass to make sure that he follows the directions precisely to build his go-cart. He peeks over the fence to see how Maya is doing with her cart and finds her perched on top of her kit watching and sketching a picture of a bird in a tree. The next day Rafael checks back and discovers Maya is building a flying machine.  Rafael points out, “that’s not a go-cart.” She replies, “Who said it HAD to be a go-cart?”  Rafael, who really wants to win the race, realizes Maya’s vision and suggests they team up. On the day of the race all the students arrive with their look-alike go-carts. Rafael and Maya are teased about their unusual entry, but they end up soaring to the finish line to a cheering crowd.

Why I like this book: I enjoyed Peter H. Reynolds collaborative effort with his twin brother, Paul A. Reynolds, in this imaginative story about creative ability and thinking outside the box. The text reveals the discovery of new ideas and visions, the importance of teamwork and the joy and wonder of using your imagination to create something unique. Two very different minds working together are a lot more creative and productive than one — a great take-away message for children. Peter’s illustrations have his trademark whimsical appeal, but the artwork for Going Places is very bold, colorful and expressive. The students in the class are multi-ethnic, another signature of Peter and Paul’s interest in appealing to the global family. This is an entertaining and original story for children.

About the authors: Peter H. Reynolds is the bestselling author and illustrator of I’m Here, The Dot, Ish, Sky Color, and the North Star.  He’s sold over 20 million books in 25 countries. Paul A. Reynolds is CEO and co-founder (with Peter) of the Boston-based educational media company FableVisionCheck out Peter’s website .

Activity: Encourage children to use their imaginations to  design and draw their own go-carts on paper.  Help them think outside of the box. Perhaps their go-cart resembles a favorite insect, monster, dinosaur, or truck.  Maybe it’s meant to operate on the ground, in the air or underwater.

Resource:  I also recommend teachers and parents check out a special site FableVision and the Partnership for 21st Century Skills have created for educators. It’s called Above & Beyond: The Story of the 4Cs Communication, Collaboration, Critical Thinking and Creativity.

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

Missing Mommy by Rebecca Cobb

MissingMommy9780805095074_p0_v1_s260x420Missing Mommy

Rebecca Cobb, Author and Illustrator

Henry Holt and Company, Fiction, April 2013

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Theme:  Death, Grief, Mother, Family Support

Opening“Some time ago we said good-bye to Mommy. I am not sure where she has gone. I have tried looking for her.”

Synopsis:  A young boy’s mother dies. He doesn’t understand what has happened or where she has gone. He searches for her and finds some of her clothing hanging in the closet. He feels scared and angry because he doesn’t think she is coming back. He worries that she left because he was naughty.  Daddy finds a way to help the boy and his sister keep their mother’s memory alive.

Why I like this book:  I really like that this story because  it is told from the boy’s viewpoint with a lot of simplicity and honesty. It is a touching and loving debut picture book written and illustrated by Rebecca Cobb. I am always searching for good grief books for children.  Missing Mommy deals with the pain, fear, and anger of the losing a parent, but is balanced with the loving support from family.  The artwork is childlike, as Cobb uses watercolors and crayons to create childlike simplicity for her young readers.

Resources: Missing Mommy will help spark a discussion about death and grief between children and parents.  It’s never too early to talk about death with children because they may first experience the death of a pet or grandparent. For further information visit Rebecca Cobb at her website.

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.

The Tree Lady — Arbor Day, April 25

The Tree Lady9781442414020_p0_v4_s260x420The Tree Lady: The True Story of How One Tree-Loving Woman Changed a City Forever

H. Joseph Hopkins, Author

Jill McElmurry, Illustrator

Beach Lane Books, Biography, 2013

Suitable for Ages: 5-10

Themes: Kate Olivia Sessions, Horticulturists, Trees, San Diego, Nature

Opening: “Katherine Olivia Sessions grew up in the woods of Northern California. She gathered leaves from oaks and elms. She collected needles from pines and redwoods. And she braided them together with flowers to make necklaces and bracelets.”

Book Synopsis: Trees were Kate Sessions’ best friends.  She spent a lot of time in the woods in the 1860s. Her passion for the natural world led her to study science in college at the University of California.  She was the first woman to graduate with a degree in 1881. Her first teaching job took her to San Diego in 1883. You can imagine her shock when she arrived in this desert town. Most San Diegans didn’t think trees could grow, but Kate did.  She left her teaching job and began to research trees that could grow in a hot and dry desert. This young woman began to collect seeds of trees that would grow in San Diego from all over the world.  She began to garden and plant trees. Soon people began to buy trees from Kate’s nursery and planted them in their yards and around the city. In 1909 the city leaders announced that a great fair was coming to San Diego’s Balboa Park in 1915. The entire town volunteered to plant trees — millions to be exact. Kate became known as the Mother of Balboa Park.

Why I like this book:  This is a perfect book Arbor Day book.  H. Joseph Hopkins has written a story that portrays Kate as gutsy and passionate conservationist who literally transformed a desert town into the beautiful, lush green city it is today. More importantly his story teaches kids that if you have vision, determination, perseverance, you can make a difference in the world. That’s what Kate did. This is a wonderful classroom book and can be used in many different ways.  Jill McElmurry’s beautiful illustrations match the era and will certainly appeal to children.

Resources: There is a more detailed Author’s Note at the end of the book that gives the reader a lot more information about Kate Session and the celebrated work she did during her lifetime.  With Arbor Day and Earth Day close together, it is a great time to plant trees in areas in need of greenery.  This is a great project for kids to do through school, scouting programs and with families. Check out the Arbor Day Foundation for ways to get involved at home and in your community.

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.

Henny

Henny9781442484368_p0_v11_s260x420Henny

Elizabeth Rose Stanton, Author and Illustrator

Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Book, Fiction Jan. 7, 2014

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Themes: Chickens, Individuality, Self-acceptance, Humor

Opening: “Henny was not a typical chicken. Henny was born with arms. Henny’s mother was very surprised, but she loved Henny anyway.”

Synopsis: It’s not every day that a chicken is born with arms. Henny likes being different…and she doesn’t like being different.  She tries to strut around like the other chickens and fit in, but Henny has to be herself. As she grows, she worries about being right-handed or left-handed….wearing long sleeves or short sleeves…using buttons or zippers…and needing deodorant. She helps the farmer by milking a cow, feeding the chicks and the pigs. She discovers she can cross her arms, brush her teeth, comb her comb, carry a purse hail a taxi and ice skate. But, can she do the one thing she want to do most — fly?

Why I like this book: In her debut picture book, Elizabeth Rose Stanton has written a fresh and lovable character in Henny.  This is a charming story about differences, self-acceptance and self-discovery. But it is also about a journey,  wonder and dreams. Kids will relate to Henny and laugh at her antics and cheer her as she slowly discovers that with arms she can experience the world in a way the other chickens can’t. Being different can have it’s pluses and nothing is going to stop this curious chick. The language is very simple and a great book for young readers. Stanton’s pencil and watercolor illustrations are lively, expressive and tickle the imagination. She is an author/illustrator to watch.

Resources: Encourage your child to be imaginative and draw some animals that wouldn’t normally have arms, or legs.  A fish with legs…a frog with arms…a bear with a beak and so on.  Doodling can be fun.  Check out Tara Lazar’s interview with Stanton last November and Joanna Marple’s illustrator’s interview with Stanton last September.  Stanton gives some insight into her artistic process.  You can visit Stanton on her website.

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.

Every Day is Malala Day

Malala Day9781927583319_p0_v1_s260x420Every Day is Malala Day

Rosemary McCarney with Plan International

Second Story Press, Nonfiction, Apr. 1, 2014

Suitable for Ages: 5-9

Themes: Educating Girls, Letter from girls around the world to Malala Yousafzai

Opening: “Dear Malala, We have never met before, but I feel like I know you.  I have never seen you before, but I’ve heard your voice.  To girls like me, you are a leader who encourages us. And you are a friend.”

Synopsis:  This book is an inspiring letter written to Malala Yousafzai from girls worldwide who have experienced educational and inequality barriers.  Malala may be the most famous and outspoken girl in the world campaigning for the rights of girls.  She is their hero, friend and role model in demanding change.  McCarney opens the book describing how the fifteen-year-old was shot in the head by the Taliban on her way to school in Pakistan on Oct. 9, 2012. They wanted to silence her. They failed and she survived and became even more determined to work on behalf of children. In 2013, she was the youngest person ever nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Why I like this book:  This is a beautiful and timely book written in the form of a letter from girls around the world expressing their gratitude to Malala for bringing attention to the barriers they face in receiving an education — poverty, violence, early  marriage, and discrimination. It is a wonderful book to use in the classroom to introduce girls (and boys) to the issues of gender inequality and to promote the rights of all girls to attend school. Malala clearly demonstrates that children everywhere can change the world. Each page of the book is a beautiful photograph of a girl representing a different culture and race with a very simple and powerful statement that they too have rights. Many photographers contributed to this book. My favorite photos are those of the girls raising their hands in support of Malala to show the world what girls can achieve if they stand together. I highly recommend this book.

Resources: The book is a wonderful resource. There is an introduction about “Who is Malala” in the front of the book. And it ends with the speech Malala delivered on her 16th birthday, Jul. 12, 2013, to the United Nations’ Youth Assembly. This book belongs in every elementary school library. It is a great way to discuss the plight of girls in other countries with students.  Encourage students to write a letter to Malala.

The author, Rosemary McCarney, is president and CEO of the Plan Canada team, where she launched the important Because I am a Girl campaign and led the initiative to have the United Nations designate an International Day of the Girl to draw attention to their problems and lift millions of girls out of poverty. Proceeds from this book will go to Plan International.

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.

The Black Book of Colors

blackbookThe Black Book of Colors

Menena Cottin, Author

Rosana Faria, Illustrator

Elisa Amado, Translator

Groundwood Books, Fiction, 2008

Suitable for Ages: 5-10

Themes: Experiencing what it’s like to be blind, Exploring senses

Opening: “Thomas says that yellow tastes like mustard, but is as soft as a baby chick’s feathers…Thomas likes all the colors because he can hear them and smell them and touch them and taste them.”

Book Jacket Synopsis: It is very hard for a sighted person to imagine what it is like to be blind. This groundbreaking, award-winning book endeavors to convey the experience of a person who can only see through his or her sense of touch, taste, smell or hearing.

Why I like this book: Menena Cottin and Rosana Faria’s have teamed up to create an extraordinary book for sighted children to help them experience what it is like to be blind and depend upon their senses. The entire book is on black paper. The pages on the left have white text at the bottom where Thomas describes a color using his senses and beautiful imagery. There is Braille at the top of the page which helps a sighted child to imagine what it is like to read by touch.  On the corresponding pages the illustrations are elegant and delicate raised black line drawings which are meant to be revealed by the touch of finger tips. This book is a masterpiece that teaches children how to describe colors by using all of their senses. The book is not intended for visually impaired children.

Resources: I would use this book to discuss visual impairments. The book alone is a resource. It asks readers to be blind. It a remarkable way for children to experience the world through touch, smell, taste and sound. At the end of the book is a raised braille alphabet.  Activity: Create a class book of colors and ask children to draw a picture of something that represents a color and write a sense that corresponds to their picture.

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.