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.

Edmund Pickle Chin Blog Tour — A Donkey Interview

edmund-cover-600x900Edmund Pickle Chin: A Donkey Rescue Story

Clara Bowman-Jahn and Susan April Elwood, Authors

Lynne Bendoly, Illustrator

eTreasures Publishing, April 26, 2014

Suitable for ages: 4-10

Theme: Animal Rescue

Today you are in for a special treat. I am the fifth stop or the tail end of the donkey blog tour!  I have the pleasure of interviewing the star of the book, Edmund Pedro Pickle Chin Big Head Ed Elwood. He is 10 years old and lives at Everymay Farm, a non-profit rescue for farm animals in rural Georgia. It was founded by Susan and Tom Elwood in 2007. According to Susan,  Edmund stands watch over the smaller critters and has become their protectors. He even tolerates goat head blows to the chest and waits to eat until the other animals have finished. Susan says, he can also be quite comical when people are around. Although he is still very shy, he will  “curl his upper lip or blow donkey boogers on well-meaning visitors. What do  you expect, he’s an ass!”

I think it’s time to turn the  spotlight on Edmund and hear what he has to say.  So, here’s Edmund…

Edmund, you are such a charmer with that great big donkey smile. What do you think about having a book written about you?

[E] GREAT! I feel I should have hoof printed the contract, but feel really good about what Susan and Clara have created.  Susan tells me the book will raise children’s awareness of patience and compassion towards one another and animals. Plus, it will hopefully help my animal friends here on the farm, so it feels right.

Do you like your name?  Do you know words? Are you a celebrity in town?

[E] I LOVE my names. In fact I have many nicknames as you will find out in MY book! Which one I like best is a hard question. EDMUND, is probably my favorite. I know it and respond to it when Susan calls to me. That’s not the only word I know — cookie, apple, Lambert and “let’s get some grain.” This may not seem like a big deal to some of you, but I bet the goats don’t know that many words. We donkeys love to talk! As for being a celebrity, the farm isn’t open to the public, so my fans are limited. I am secretly waiting for my first fan mail!

What was it like for you to come to Everymay Farm? Were you afraid?

[E] I wasn’t sad to leave the last farm, because as the book tells, it wasn’t a very nice place for me. I was scared because I didn’t know if my new home would be better. I had been moved around before, and I wasn’t wanted at any of my past homes. After just one night at Evermay, I knew I was going to love it there. I wasn’t tied to a tree! I could run around if I wanted, and I did!!!

How long did it take for you to trust people?

I trust Susan, but I’m still nervous around strangers, especially the person who comes every so often and pokes me with needles “for my own good.”  Don’t get me started on the one that comes over with a sack full of tools used on my feet. I try really hard to put up with them because Susan is there, and she promises she’ll never to let anyone ever mistreat me again. I also have a friend named Scott who brings me apples. I bellow when I see his truck coming down the road and always meet him at the fence. He calls Evermay the “Hilton” for unwanted animals, but I don’t know what a Hilton is. I do know what it feels like to be wanted.

What is the favorite song that Susan sings to you? Do you have a favorite song for Susan?

[E] Can I be honest…she can’t sing. My ears are big and sensitive like a dog’s. That’s why when the train rolls by or a siren goes off, I bellow like a dog barks to block the high-pitched sound from hurting my ears. Her singing is kinda like that, but I know the kid means well. She makes up a song for every critter on the farm.

I’d probably bellow my version of My Girl, by “The Temptations.”  I‘ve got sunshine on a cloudy day…When it’s cold outside, I’ve got “EVERMAY.”

I think I could do a pretty good job with singing Aretha Franklin’s Rescue Me. For the most part though, Susan is the one who sings around here.

How did you feel when other animals started arriving at Everymay? Were you jealous, excited or anxious?

[E] I had been with other animals where I was before and I chased them. That is why my previous owners tied me to a tree. When Everymay started to grow and new animals arrived, I got excited. Susan taught me patience by introducing me to one new friend at a time. I’m always very excited to have furry friends!

I hear that you are an ambassador for the farm. What do you do?

[E] I’ve been called the poster child for Evermay. It turns out that I’m quite photogenic. My picture is used a lot on our Facebook page. I meet and greet critters and humans alike here on the farm. The picture book tells a little more about my duties as an ambassador. I don’t want to give to too much away!

Who are your best animal friends?

[E} Lambert the goat is my BFF. He arrived shortly after me and we hit it off right away. Well I might have gotten a little excited over his arrival at first, but I was still learning. I tried to get him to move up the field when he was only three months old. He wasn’t moving fast enough, so I picked the little guy up by the tail. Susan was NOT happy. I wasn’t allowed to be alone with Lambert for a very long time. I don’t want Lambert to leave me again, so I won’t do that anymore. If Lambert is taken away from me, I scream as loud as I can. And, he screams right back! My bellow can be heard a long distance by neighbors.

There is also a miniature mare I am quite fond of. Her name is Bella. We secretly meet by the fence under the elm tree. I could stand there for hours as long as she’s there. She’s so pretty!

What is the funniest thing that has happened to you?

[E] Flies can be very bothersome during Georgia’s hot summers. To help me, Susan bought me a donkey fly mask. When I wore it for the first few times, I had difficultly walking! I kept taking really high steps and even missed my footing. I had to learn to look past the mesh in the mask instead of at the mesh that was so close to my face. Susan said I looked like I had “a few too many.” I’m not sure what she meant by that. You can never  have too many apples.

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What is you favorite foods? How many time do you eat a day?

[E] I graze most of the day with my goat pals. We are fed grain and hay twice a day.  My favorite foods are apples and pears! Susan loves me so much that she planted pear trees. I also get carrots and ginger snaps made from the old family recipe. For the anniversary of my arrival to the farm every year I get a special dessert. This year it was carrot cake, last year apple muffins. In the summer I have watermelon, and I love to blow it out my nostrils when no one is expecting it!

What do you want to say to Susan and Clara?

[E] Thank you for giving me the chance to give back through this joint effort. It’s a grand story! I would also like to thank my illustrator Lynne Bendoly for making me look so adorable! And Susan, you scratch my left side more than the right.

Thank you for the interview. I appreciate your wanting to hear my side of this tale.

Hee Haw…Hee Haw…Hee Haw,

Edmund Pedro Pickle Chin Big Head Ed Elwood

Resources:

Clara Bowman-Jahn author photo(1)Authors Clara-Bowman Jahn and Susan April Elwood encourage you to read everyOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA post, follow the blog and comment for prizes. The reader who follows each blog and comments on each stop of the tour will get first prize. And if there are many winners, they will deliver!

First prize is a print book of both Edmund Pickle Chin and Clara’s Annie’s Special Day. Second prize is either a print copy of Edmund or of Annie, you get to pick and finally third prize is a copy of the ebook of Edmund Pickle Chin, a Donkey Rescue Story.

BLOG TOUR DATES

May 26 / animal abuse and mistreatment Joanna -www.joannamarple.com

May 29/ author collaboration Stacy – http://www.stacysjensen.com

May 30/ PPBF and review Vivian – http://viviankirkfield.com/

June 2/ author interview Erik – www.ThisKidReviewsBooks.com

June 4/ Edmund interview Patricia – http://childrensbooksheal.com

June 9 /teacher info and guide Susanna – http://susannahill.blogspot.com

 

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.

The Truth of Me

The Truth of Me9780061998591_p0_v2_s260x420The Truth of Me

Patricia MacLachlan, Author

Katherine Tegen Books/Harper-Collins Publishers, Fiction, June 2013

Suitable for Ages: 6-10

Themes: Grandmothers, Dogs, Animals, Family Relationships

Opening: This is a true story. The truest story ever. You may not believe it. Your loss. But it’s true. I have a witness.”

Synopsis: Robbie’s musician parents send him and his dog, Ellie, to spend the summer with his grandmother Maddy. Robbie’s parents are so absorbed with their music that he feels unnoticed. But, he can be himself with Maddy and her relaxed way of living.  He loves listening to her stories about her adventures with animals in the woods, which no one else believes. Robbie is the only one who experiences Maddy’s gift with wild animals and how they trust her. Both Robbie and Ellie learn about the natural world through Maddy. And, Maddy shares a secret with Robbie about his mother that helps him understand his family dynamics and find “the truth of me.” With this information, Robbie finds the courage to make things right.

Why I like this book: This is a quiet book that celebrates family relationships and special gifts.  Patricia MacLachlan has written a story that is realistic, special and begging to be explored. She has a gift for writing about families and this book is no exception.  The characters are believable, the language is simple and easy for young readers, the narrative gentle and the plot engaging.  Every family has its secrets and kids will curl up with this heartwarming and emotional story as they experience the magic with Robbie and Ellie.  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.