Dash

Dash9780545416351_p0_v1_s260x420Dash

Kirby Larson, Author

Scholastic Press, Fiction, Aug, 26, 2014

Suitable for Ages: 8-12

Themes: Japanese-American Children, Evacuation, Relocation, Concentration Camps,  Dogs, WW II

Synopsis: After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Mitsi Kashino is separated from her home, friends, schoolmates, community and her beloved dog, Dash. There is a lot of fear in America. Because Mitsi is of American-Japanese descent, she and her family are forced to pack their suitcases and are evacuated from their home.  They are relocated to two different concentration camps that are overcrowded, unhealthy, and surrounded by tall fences. Mitsi is forced to leave her dog, Dash, with Mrs. Bowker, an older neighbor who cares for him. Mrs. Bowker sends Mitsi weekly letters from Dash. Mitsi’s strong family ties and her letters from Dash give her hope that one day she will be reunited with her pet.

Why I like this book: Kirby Larson has created a strong heart-felt connection for her readers with Mitsi’s attachment to Dash. Dash adds an authentic touch to this deeply emotional story about a dark period in America’s history. Larson shows Mitsi going to school, playing with her two best friends until the attack occurs on Pearl Harbor occurs. Mitsi feels the prejudice from her best friends who begin to bully her with facial expressions, racial slurs and nasty notes. Larson’s characters are well-developed. Mitsi’s voice remains determined  and strong even when she’s struggling and balancing so many issues. She finds solace in her artwork and writing.  Larson’s depiction of life at the internment camps is very realistic with over-crowded living conditions, long lines, heat, dirt, fleas, smelly latrines,  and minimal food (oatmeal and Vienna Sausages). The plot is engaging, heartbreaking, and packed with adventure. Larson’s powerful story is based on the true story of Mitsue “Mitsi” Shiraishi, who loved her dog, Chubby and left him behind with a neighbor, who wrote the real “Mitsi” letters from Chubby. I highly recommend this important story about the resilience of the human spirit.

Kirby Larson is the acclaimed author of the 2007 Newbury Honor book Hattie Big Sky; its sequel, Hattie Ever After; The Friendship Doll; Dear America: The Fences Between Us; and Duke.  Visit Kirby Larson at her website.

Animal School: What Class Are You?

Animal School9780823430451_p0_v1_s260x420Animal School: What Class Are You?

Michelle Lord, Author

Michael Garland, Illustrator

Holiday House, Nonfiction, July 1, 2014

Suitable for Ages: 5-9

Themes: Vertebrates, Reptiles, Fish, Mammals, Birds, Amphibians, Animals, Rhyming text

Opening: “Vertebrates have spines. Elephants to pygmy wrasses, vertebrates are grouped by classes. Vertebrates have spines like you, mammals, fish and reptiles too!”

Synopsis:  Animal School begins with very detailed illustrations of the skeletons of five classifications of vertebrates with spines like  mammals, fish, amphibians, reptiles, and birds. Some walk on legs, while others swim, crawl, scamper or fly. Some breathe air while others live in water where oxygen flows through gills. With rhythmic text the author explores a subject many children will find fascinating.

I like this book because: it introduces children to the intriguing world of vertebrates. Michelle Lord’s knowledge of vertebrates is captured in her catchy and entertaining rhyming in each classification.  She provides the appealing facts about the special characteristics of each vertebrate classification: reptiles, fish, mammals (including humans), bird, amphibians, and animals.  Verses describe whether the vertebrae is cold-blooded or warm-blooded, scaly or furry,  hatched or birthed from an animal. Her language is understandable and kid-friendly. Michael Garland’s “digital woodcut” illustrations of the animals and reptiles add a dramatic touch that is eye-catching and suits the preferred natural habitat. The texture really adds realism to the story. His double-page spreads are simply stunning, complimenting the story. The cover is regal.

Favorite verses and illustrations:

Reptiles: “But alligators / raise their young. / Hatchlings ride on / Mother’s tongue. / Every noise / a reptile hears / through covered holes, / not floppy ears.”

Garland Gator6-7Compliments of Michael Garland

Fish: Underwater / fishes roam. / Rivers, lakes, or seas are home. / Oxygen flows/ through their gills./ Water passes/ through these frills. /Fish are cloaked / in flaky scales, / lacking hair or / furry tails.”

Garland Fish 8-9Compliments of Michael Garland

Resources: At the end of the book is a chart with all five classifications, their characteristics, some of the species, examples, an afterword about “invertebrates (spineless),” and suggested websites to check out. Use this book before you take your children on a visit to a zoo, aquarium or on a walk through the woods.  Visit Michelle Lord and Michael Garland’s websites to learn more about their books.

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

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.

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.

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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 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.

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.