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.

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

Picture a Tree – Earth Day, April 22

Picture a Tree9780807565261_p0_v1_s260x420Picture a Tree

Barbara Reid, Author and Illustrator

Albert Whitman & Company, Fiction, 2013

Suitable for ages: 4-7

Themes: Trees, Imagination, Nature, Seasons

Opening: “There is more than one way to picture a tree. You may see a drawing on the sky. A game of dress-up.”

Summary: Picture a tree–what do you see?  A tree can be so many things: a drawing in the sky, a tunnel hovering over a neighborhood,  a home for  birds and animals, a clubhouse, a pirate ship, a great place to climb and think and shade from the heat.

Why I like this book: This is a perfect Earth Day book because it a celebration of trees, one of our most important resources.  Barbara Reid encourages her young readers to stretch their imaginations to see that a tree can be any thing as they change with each season.  Her text is simple and the artwork is gorgeous and lively. Her unique Plasticine creations are pressed onto an illustration board showing layered textures and color for a special visual effect. Both children and adults will study the expressive detail on the pages of this extraordinary book. And, make sure you check out the gorgeous end papers which are filled with pictures of trees. This is a wonderful book for the classroom and home.

Resources: Have children draw pictures of trees for each season and something special about the season.  Visit Barbara Reid’s website where there is a students/teacher artwork page, a picture a tree memory game, videos and a page devoted to working with Plasticine material.

 

 

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.

 

The Ghost-Eye Tree

Ghost-Eye Tree9780805009477_p0_v3_s260x420The Ghost-Eye Tree

Bill Martin and John Archambault, Authors

Ted Rand, Illustrator

Square Fish Publisher, 1988 (Reprint)

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Themes: It’s okay to be scared, Imagination, Halloween

Book SynopsisOne dark and windy autumn night when the sun has long gone down, a young boy and his older sister are sent to the end of town to get a bucket of milk. As they walk down the lonely road, bathed in eerie moonlight, all the boy can think about is the ghost-eye tree.

Oooo…

I dreaded to go…

I dreaded the tree….

Why does Mama always choose me

When the night is so dark

And the mind runs free?

What will happen when they come to the tree?  Can they run past it or will it reach out and grab them?

 Why I like this book:  I will admit that this is a favorite dark and edgy book that my daughter and I still enjoy today.   I reviewed it several years ago, before I had much of a following, so I decided to share it again.  It is written by the late Bill Martin (1916-2004) and John Archambault, who give children a lot of room to use their imaginations.  Martin wrote children’s books for nearly 60 years.  I am a bit nostalgic as this was my daughter’s favorite spooky Halloween book.  I was so happy to find her copy and to know it is still available on Amazon, Barnes & Nobel and in libraries.  Written in verse by the authors in 1988, it is packed with imagery and suspense with each turn of the page.  Ted Rand’s illustrations are dark, eery and perfectly exaggerate the mood of the story.   The book is also a great read around any camp fire.  It remains on my bookshelf because it shows kids that being scared is okay.  It has just enough tension to make this a good Halloween read.

I discovered a short film was made of the Ghost-Eye Tree in 2008 by Nusomfilms.  Here is the trailer.

Sky Color

Sky Color9780763623456_p0_v1_s260x420Sky Color

Peter H. Reynolds, Author and Illustrator

Candlewick Press, Fiction, Aug. 2012

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Themes:  Art, Creativity, Imagination,

Opening“Marisol was an artist.  She loved to draw and paint, and she even had her very own art gallery.  Not all her art hung in a gallery.  Much of it she shared with the world.”

Synopsis: Marisol’s teacher announces to the class they are going to paint a mural for the library.  Marisol wants to paint the sky.  She searches through the box of paints and can not find the color blue.  She wonders how she will paint the sky without blue paint.  On her way home from school Marisol stares out the bus window as the horizon changes.  She watches the sunset turn into night.  She realizes that maybe there are other ways to paint the color of the sky.

Why I like this book:  Another beautiful and original story about imagination and creativity from author/illustrator Peter Reynolds, who shows his young readers that the sky is the limit when you dream big and think outside of the box.  He encourages children to open their eyes and really look at their surroundings.  Is the sky really blue, the grass green, the sea blue and the moon white?  This is a great way to encourage kids to be daring and experiment with a  variety of colors.  What a great lesson in creativity for children.  This is the third story in his Creatrilogy series, which also includes The Dot and Ish.  Visit Peter H. Reynolds at his website.

Resource:  The website OMazing Kids  has some terrific ideas about encouraging creativity using many of Peter Reynold’s books.  Check out this July 6 post Inspiring Kids Creativity with Books, Art and Movement.

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The Museum

The Museum9781419705946_p0_v1_s260x420

The Museum

Susan Verde, Author

Peter Reynolds, Illustrator

Abrams, Henry N., Inc., Mar. 12, 2013 (Release)

Suitable for Ages: 3-7

Themes:  Museums, Art Appreciation,  Creativity, Imagination

Opening“When I see a work of art, something happens in my heart.  I cannot stifle my reaction.  My body just goes into action.”

Synopsis:  A spirited girl visits a museum and is moved by the artwork she views.  Much to her delight, each painting evokes a different emotional response.  There is an unexpected encounter around every corner.  She twirls to the swirls in  Van Gogh’s Starry Night.   She strikes ballet poses, yoga postures, skips through fields of flowers and pauses to ponder Rodin’s The Thinker.  Picasso turns her mood blue and sad.  Cezanne’s apples makes her tummy rumble.  Miro’s lines and squiggles sends here into fits of giggles.  Munch’s painting evokes a shriek.   My favorite moment is when she stands before Ryman’s stark white canvas.  Puzzled and wondering if it’s a joke, she closes her eyes and imagines a beautiful creation in her own mind.  When the museum closes and it is time to leave, she comes to an important realization about the artwork.

Why I like this bookThe Museum is a creative, moving and enchanting story written in rhyme.  Debut author Susan Verde shows art as a personal and liberating experience for her inquisitive barefoot museum patron.  Peter H. Reynolds’s illustrations are lively, dramatic, whimsical, colorful and complement the narrative.  The girl dances across the pages.  A lot of teamwork went into bringing this endearing story to life.  Visit Susan Verde and Peter H. Reynolds at their websites.  Reynolds is the award-winning author and illustrator of The Dot, North Star and Ish.

Resources:  Both Susan and Peter hope their story inspires children to visit their local art museum and notice how art makes them feel.   Show your children pieces of famous artwork, give them a pad of  paper and encourage them to draw a picture about how a painting or sculpture makes them feel.  Check out the Educators Guide  for The Museum on Susan’s website.

Book Launch Party:  Susan Verde and Peter Reynolds will celebrate the launch of The Museum on Saturday, March 9, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., at The Blue Bunny, 577 High Street, Dedham Square, Dedham, MA.   You are invited to stop by and meet them.  They will be signing the first copies of their book.

Interview Mar. 11:  On Monday, Beth Stilborn will interview Susan Verde on her blog, By Word of Beth.

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.