The Monstore by Tara Lazar

The Monstore9781442420175_p0_v6_s260x420The Monstore

Tara Lazar, Author

James Burks, Illustrator

Aladdin/Simon & Schuster, Fiction, 2013

Suitable for ages:4-8

Themes: Monsters, Brothers and Sisters, Problem Solving

Opening: “At the back of Frankensweet’s Candy Shoppe, under the last box of sour gums balls, there’s a trapdoor. Knock five times fast, hand over a bag of squirmy worms, and you can crawl inside…THE MONSTORE.”

Synopsis: Zach is desperate to keep his sister Gracie from snooping around his bedroom. “Keep Out” signs don’t work, so Zach visits The Monstore to purchase a monster that frightens pesky sisters. He purchases Manfred, but Manfred shows Gracie his favorite hiding place. When Manfred doesn’t work, Zack returns to the store and demands a refund. But the manager says “no returns and no exchanges.” Zach keeps returning to the store to buy more monsters, but they don’t scare Gracie. The house becomes overrun with monsters. Zach is frustrated and not sure what to do. But Gracie does.

Why I like this book:  Hilarious! This a clever and unique sibling book for children who have a MONSTROUS appetite for monster books. Tara Lazar has written a quirky and humorous story that will inspire young minds to create their own monsters.  This is wonderful bed time book that begs to be read repeatedly. James Burk’s illustrations are lively, bold and colorful. They will tickle the imaginations of both children and parents. Visit Tara Lazar at her website.

Resources:  Have children draw the monster they’d like to buy at the Monstore.  You can  fill a box with crafty materials and let your kids make their own monsters and name them.  For monster craft ideas visit Make My Own Monster   and Activity Village.

 

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.

Gatsby’s Grand Adventures: Books 1 and 2

Gatsby's book1 9781616333508_p0_v1_s260x420Gatsby’s Grand Adventures:Winslow Homer’s Snap the Whip

Barbara Cairns, Author

Eugene Ruble, Illustrator

Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc., Fiction, 2012

Suitable for Ages: 7-12

Themes: Cat, Art gallery, Famous paintings, Mischief

Opening:”Gatsby the cat lived in Miss Annabelle’s art gallery.  At night, he had the most peculiar habit. He jumped into famous paintings.” 

Synopsis: In Book 1, Gatsby was an art gallery cat who loved exploring famous paintings at night. One night his long tail twitched, his nose itched and his haunches hitched as he leaped into Winslow Homer’s Snap the Whip picture. He darted between the boy’s tripping and knocking four of them down. The boys chased Gatsby and he jumped out of the painting as the sun rose. Miss Annabelle was shocked to find the boys struggling to stand.  Gatsby returned repeatedly to fix the painting, but each attempt ended in another cat-astrophe.  Will Gatsby restore Homer’s painting so Miss Annabelle doesn’t think she has lost her mind?

Gatsbys 2 Book9781616333874_p0_v1_s260x420.jpg.Book 2 published 2013

Gatsby’s Grand Adventures: Auguste Renoir’s The Apple Seller

Synopsis: Ever since Gatsby leaped into his first painting, he wanted to visit another painting.  When he discovered Renoir’s Apple Seller, his tail  twitched, his whiskers itched and his haunches hitched. He jumped into the painting after absent-minded Miss Annabelle had gone to bed. The girls seated with the apple seller in the painting are excited to see a cat and stroked Gatsby’s head. When Jasper the dog barked at Gatsby, he ran and climbed up a tree. The girls caught their dog and Gatsby leaped out of the painting after the sun had risen. Oops! He looked back and the painting was a mess.  There would be more trips to restore this picture. Poor Miss Annabelle.

Why I like these  books: Barbara Cairns books  introduce children to art in a fun way.  Both books combine art history and education with adventure and humor. Children who enjoy animals and art will learn about an artist’s work through the adventures of a mischievous cat named Gatsby. His name suits him well because he is one cat with personality. I am sure there will be many more Gatsby adventures in this series. Eugene Ruble’s lovely pastel paintings are lively and colorful. He captures the essence of both famous artists with his own style.

Resources: The author has provided information about Homer and Renoir in the back of the book, along with helpful websites for children.  For activities check out a site Cairns suggested: Art Smarts 4 Kids.  These books are a great way to introduce children to famous artwork before they visit an art gallery.

Barbara Cairns is a former K-6 school teacher, a special education teacher for the deaf, and a retired elementary school principal. You can find interesting facts about Gatsby and cats on her website.

 

While You Were Out

While You Were Out9780142406281_p0_v1_s260x420While You Were Out

J. Irvin Kuns, Author

Dutton Children’s Books, Fiction, 2006

Suitable for Ages: 8-12

Themes:  Loss of a friend, Grief, Family, Hope, Healing, School

Synopsis: Penelope is about to start fifth grade without her best friend, Tim, who died of cancer during the summer. Not only is she dealing with the grief of losing Tim, she is also dealing with the fact that her quirky father will be the new school janitor. And her irritating next door neighbor, Diane, thinks she can replace Tim as her best friend.  Memories of Tim are everywhere, including the empty desk right next to her and their favorite oak tree near the playground. Finding a way to cope with her loneliness, she begins to write notes to Tim on her pink While You Were Out notepad, folds them and puts them inside Tim’s empty desk — “I hugged our tree today. I think it hugged me back.”  After receiving a mysterious note with a poem about grief on her desk one day, she realizes someone else misses Tim as much as she does.  Perhaps she will be able to survive fifth grade without Tim.

Why I like this story: J. Irvin Kuns has written a very sensitive and realistic story about grief, loneliness, hope, healing and the power of words that help a child move forward again.  Written in first person, Penelope is authentic, smart and beautifully expresses her feelings, mixed with some sarcasm and humor. Her overactive father is imperfect and embarrassing when he jumps rope and plays marbles on the playground. He acts more like a student than the janitor. The book does show how Penelope finds a way of moving forward after losing her best friend and schoolmate.  This is a very moving story that would help children deal with loss.

I Want Your Moo

I Want Your Moo9781433805424_p0_v1_s260x420I Want Your Moo: A Story for Children About Self-Esteem

Marcella Bakur Weiner and Jill Neimark, authors

JoAnn Adinolfi, Illustrator

Magination Press, Fiction, 2010

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Themes:  Animals, Self-esteem, Sounds, Turkeys

Opening:  “Toodles the Turkey did not like herself.  Her legs were like sticks.  Her head had no hair.  Her feathers were brown.  But most of all, Toodles hated her sound.  Gobble-gobble. Gobble-gobble.  What a horrible noise!”

Synopsis:  Toodles doesn’t like the sound of her own voice and goes searching for a new sound.  She want’s Cathy the Cow’s strong  “Mooo-oooo-oooo.”  She wants Paris the Pig’s “Oink” and Harry the Horse’s “Neigh,” and the cat’s “Mee-oow.”  They all refuse.  But, Ralph the Rooster invites Toodles to join him in a duet of “Cocka-cocka! Doodle -doo!’ But, that didn’t go over well and Toodles runs away.  Defeated, Toodles runs into the very wise Omar the Owl “Whoo-whoo” gives her advice.  She wanders back into the barnyard, just in time to save the day with her Gobble-gobble.  Will Toodles ever be happy with her sound?

Why I like about this book:  Kids will have fun making all the wonderful animal sounds.  Weiner and Neimark have written a lively and lyrical book that will captivate young children.  This is a great book to add to your collection to boost your child’s self-esteem.  Adinolfi’s bright and colorful illustrations explode off each page.  The expressions she captures of the animals are hilarious.  Jill is also the author of Toodles and Teeny, which I reviewed last spring.

Resources:  There is a forward and back pages for parents talking about building a child’s self-worth and offering practical advice for guiding children toward self-acceptance.  This book offers so many teaching moments.  Have children act out the animal characters and draw pictures of Toodles and the other animals.  It is also a great classroom book.

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.

Wumbers

Wumbers9781452110226_p0_v1_s260x420WUMBERS

Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Author

Tom Lichtenheld, Illustrator

Chronicle Books, 2012

Suitable for Ages: 5 – 8

Themes: Words, Numbers, Humor

From the Book Jacket:  What do you get when you combine a word and a number?  A wumber!  Playing tribute to William Steig’s C D B!, book crea8ors Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld have wri10 this s2pendous book that is perfect 4 readers in kindergar10 and up.

Why I like this book:  Rosenthal has written a very creative and clever concept book for children.  It’s words created with numbers.  There is no specific story, just lots of fun word puns with letters substituted with numbers.  Lichtenheld’s illustrations are colorful and give lively visual clues of what is being said.  The characters on each spread have conversations that kids will have fun decoding.  And some of the word/number plays are a bit challenging and will help kids learn a new language.  After all, many kids today are using coding messages as they text messages to their friends.  Good left/right brain entertainment!  For example:

“He pinched my belly but10!”   With Dad responding “I think you’ll sur5.”   (They just do this 4 a10tion.)

He lost his first 2th.  He is el8ed!

We have the 2na salad and the pl8s.  What have we 4gotten?  The 4ks!

Resources:  Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld  have created a teacher’s guide for WUMBERS.   They are the NYT best-selling authors of Duck! Rabbit!, as well as many other children’s books.

Car Goes Far

CarGoeFarCVRCar Goes Far

Michael Garland, Author and Illustrator

Holiday House, I Like to Read Series, Fiction, 2013

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Themes: Shiny car gets dirty, Humor, Resilience

Opening:  “Car looks good.”

Synopsis:  As a shiny red car begins on a trip to a burger joint, a gas station, and a store, it drives into trouble. Car is stuck in a traffic jam next to a construction site, gets dirt slung on it, is choked by the smoke and exhaust from other cars, and receives a downpour of droppings from a flock of birds. Car is defeated.  What will Car do?

Why I like this book: Michael Garland has written and illustrated a delightful book with very simple text for young readers. For example, “Car gets wet. Splash, splash.” There is a lot of show and tell.  He uses a lot of fun verbs to describe the action. His digital artwork is very expressive and colorful. Car’s headlights look like eyes and its bumper shows a toothy smile when it’s happy and a frown when it’s sad. Kids of all ages will enjoy Car’s animated expressions. Afterall, this is Michael Garland and his artwork stands out as a feast for the eyes! Make sure you check out the front and end pages for a view of Car’s neighborhood.  This is an entertaining book for children learning to read on their own. It will be read again and again. Visit Michael Garland at his website.