Cinderstella: A Tale of Planets Not Princes

Cinderstella: A Tale of Planets Not Princes

Brenda S. Miles and Susan D. Sweet, Authors

Valeria Docampo, Illustrator

Magination Press, Fiction, Oct. 17, 2016

Suitable for Ages: 5-8

Themes: Gender Roles, Self-Confidence, Stepfamilies, Family Relationships, Dreams

Opening: Once upon a time there lived a  girl named Cinderstella. She had two stepsisters who made her work every day. But every night, Cinderstella climbed to her treehouse to be close to the stars.

Book Jacket Synopsis: Cinderstella has plans for her own happily ever after and a future princess she is not. She’d rather be an astronaut.

In this modern retelling of a beloved fairy tale, children are encouraged to pursue studies in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. Cinderstella dares to be different, has a sense of curiosity, and knows what she wants. A universe of opportunities.

Why I like this book:

The authors have created a meaningful and entertaining retelling of the classic fairy tale, but with an inspiring twist. The text flows nicely and rhymes in places.  Cinderstella dreams of becoming an astronaut. While her stepsisters keep her busy sewing gowns for the ball, shining jewelry and styling their hair during the day, at night she studies the stars and planets and creates her own universe of dreams. She convinces her fairy godmother that she doesn’t want a gown and a carriage, but prefers a spacesuit and a rocket so that she can travel into space.

Cinderstella dreams big and steps outside gender specific pursuits. Refreshing. Her interest in science, technology and becoming an astronaut, should be encouraged in young children of either gender who show an interest.

Valeria Docampo’s colorful, lively and dreamy illustrations capture the wonder of what happens when you have a big dream. The authors and illustrator team up to produce a winning book for children.

Resources: There is a Note to Readers that provides suggestions for parents, caregivers, and educators to spark children’s interest in science and to encourage the pursuit of any career despite lingering stereotypes about what boys and girls can and should do.  This should help parents who may not know where to begin. Encourage kids to dream big. Take them outside to gaze at the stars. If you have a trunk of dress-up clothing for kids, add an astronaut costume. Use the book to help children draw their own space ship.

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.

King Calm: Mindful Gorilla in the City

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King Calm: Mindful Gorilla in the City

By Susan D. Sweet and Brenda S. Miles, Authors

Bryan Langdo, Illustrator

Magination Press, Fiction, Oct. 17, 2016

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Themes: Distractions, Slowing down, Paying attention to the present moment,  Mindfulness

OpeningIn a Great Big City, there lived a gorilla named Marvin. Marvin wasn’t like other gorillas. He didn’t stomp his feet, he never wanted to fight, and he never pounded his chest with a thump thump roar! 

Book Synopsis: Meet Marvin. He’s a gorilla living in a Great Big City. He is peaceful and composed and enjoys every minute of his day. He doesn’t approach life with a thump thump roar. Instead Marvin experiences the world mindfully through his senses. He’s the King of Calm.

Why I like this book:

The authors have written an engaging and entertaining book about Marvin, who is a calm and gentle character who notices things other people miss because they are distracted or too busy to care. When Marvin slowly eats his banana he notices the bright yellow outside and the sweet ripe inside. His grandfather doesn’t understand Marvin because he’s impatient with life, gobbles his food and is ready to move on to their next activity. While Marvin  is very observant, Grandpa never really takes a moment to stop to enjoy his surroundings until…

I am pleased to see the growing number of books that encourage kids to slow down, pay attention to whatever they are doing in the moment, and notice the beautiful world around them. It is good to introduce mindfulness practice to children. Start at a young age, when they are open and eager to explore everything they see, smell, taste, touch, and hear.

Bryan Langdo’s illustrations are colorful, lively, diverse and expressive. Children will enjoy studying the detail on each page. As parents and teachers read this book to children, the illustrations are a great place to ask questions. What are the people at the fountain doing and does anyone notice its beauty except Marvin? What happens to the other people in the illustrations when they are distracted in the city scene? How do they react? Are they calm or reactive?

Resources: The book includes a Reader’s Note filled with information about learning to pay attention to your life through your senses by living mindfully.  Start by paying attention to what you are eating rather than gobbling it down. Be more observant when you take a walk and notice the smells in the air, the cloud formations, or look into a stream. Is it a cool or sticky day? Close your eyes and listen to the sounds around you.  What do you hear? Sit on a bench and observe. How do you feel?

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.

Stickley Makes a Mistake! by Brenda S. Miles

stickley-makes-a-mistake51jrzhny88l__sx401_bo1204203200_Stickley Makes a Mistake! – A Frog’s Guide to Trying Again

Brenda S. Miles, Author

Steve Mack, Illustrator

Magination Press, Fiction, Aug. 15, 2016

Suitable for Ages: 5-8

Themes: Frogs, Animals, Making mistakes, Perfection, Perseverance, Rhyme

Opening: When Stickley was young, he didn’t like making mistakes. “Oh no!” he’d say, and he wouldn’t try again. He wanted to be perfect.

Book Synopsis: Stickley didn’t like making mistakes. With help from his Grandpa, Stickley learns to hop up, try again, and say “oh well” when he makes a mistake. Nobody’s perfect, and good things can happen even when you make mistakes — like putting blueberries in the pancake batter instead of chocolate chips. When Stickley writes 1 + 1 = 3 on the blackboard, he asks for help and a polar bear hands him an ice cream cone with two sweet scoops.

Why I like this book:

Brenda S. Mills’ has written a charming and important sequel to her popular Stickley Sticks To It book. Stickley is so afraid of making a mistake, that he’s afraid to try when he messes up. It is important for children to learn that making a mistake is part of their learning process.  They grow from their mistakes. And, some mistakes can be fun. The language is artful, with a careful use of prose that is also lyrical at times.  “No one is perfect, / so practice your best! / If you’re stuck on a problem, / ask for help with the rest!”  Steve Mack’s illustrations are colorful, lively and full of personality. Stickley’s expressions are priceless.

Resources: The book includes a Note to Parents, Caregivers, and Teachers with tips for helping children to embrace their mistakes, learn from them, and keep trying. Stickley Makes a Mistake, is an important book for preschools and elementary students.  This is a good book to read at the start of the new year, to help children know that perfection isn’t the goal — the fun of learning.  And since many parents don’t like making mistakes, it’s a fun book to read with your child.  It will encourage many fun discussions.

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.

Move Your Mood!

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Brenda S. Miles and Colleen A. Patterson, Authors

Holly Clifton-Brown, Illustrator

Magination Press, Fiction, Apr. 18, 2016

Suitable for Ages: 3-6

Themes: Learning about emotions, Mood, Movement, Animals, Rhyme

Opening: “Feeling blah? Here’s what to do. MOVE YOUR BODY and your mood moves too!”

Book Jacket Synopsis: Move Your Mood! encourages children to twist, wiggle, hop, march, shake and smile their way into a better mood. 

Why I like this book:

Brenda S. Miles and Colleen A. Patterson have written a fresh and clever story that teaches children to move their bodies when they feel angry, sad, worried, anxious and frustrated. What a great way to boost their moods.

Adorable anthropomorphic animals (cow, giraffe, pig, elephant, kangaroo and duck etc.) wearing stylish hats dance, waddle, hop, twist, wiggle, and march across double-page spreads to the delight of young readers. The text is simple: “Twist out tired! Twist. Twist. Twist.” and “Wiggle out worried! Wiggle like this!” Holly Clifton-Brown’s humorous illustrations are colorful, lively, and expressive.

Verdict: This book will elicit many giggles from children, who will feel energized and happy after doing all the suggested movements before they sit down to focus on an activity. This book is a winner for kids, parents and teachers!

Resources: There is a Note to Parents, Caregivers, and Teachers at the end of the book with suggestions in how to use this book at home in the morning to start the day, at school during circle time and in the afternoon to re-energize and refocus students. This is such an uplifting and terrific resource to use with preschoolers and kindergarteners.

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.

1-2-3 A Calmer Me

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Colleen A. Patterson and Brenda S. Miles, Authors

Claire Keay, Illustrator

Magination Press, Fiction, Sep. 22, 2015

Suitable for Ages: 5-8

Themes: Anger, Emotions, Calmness

Opening: I am happy, but sometimes I feel mad and VERY frustrated! Like the other day when I let go of my balloon. I felt s-o-o-o mad!

Synopsis: A girl becomes angry when she lets go of her balloon. Her friend tells her it’s okay to feel mad, but there is something she can do to feel better. He shares with her a rhyme he uses to calm his body and mind. “1-2-3 a calmer me. 1-2-3 I hug me. 1-2-3 relax and b-r-e-a-t-h-e…1-2-3 a calmer me.” When she discovers it melts her angry feelings, she begins to use the technique when someone takes away her favorite crayon, when she has to stop playing and eat dinner, and when she loses a race.

Why I like this book:

I was delighted to discover Colleen A. Patterson and Brenda S. Miles’ book which helps children with relaxation and mindfulness when their emotions spin out of control. We need more books like this to use at home and at school to help upset kids regain control so that they don’t act out in a harmful way. Claire Keay’s illustrations are rendered in warm and comforting pastels and capture the emotion of the story.

1-2-3 A Calmer Me introduces readers to a very simple rhyming mantra to help them stop their negative reaction, calm their anger, frustration or disappointment and replace it with a very easy technique.  In the first action of the mantra the girl wraps her arms around herself and gives herself a big, tight hug. Then she counts again and slowly breathes in and out and relaxes her body. In the last action she slowly releases her hug and lets her arms dangle by her side. She feels the relaxation.

Resources: The book includes a “Note to Parents, Teachers and Other Grown-Ups” with more information about the steps of the “1-2-3” rhyme, and advice for working through the steps with your child.

Stickley Sticks To It!

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Brenda S. Miles, Ph.D., Author

Steve Mack, Illustrator

Magination Press, Feb. 28, 2015, Fiction

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Themes: Sticking with a task and seeing it through, Perseverance, Life Skills, Self-confidence

Opening: Meet Stickley. He’s a frog. Every day he wears shorts and a fancy bowtie.

Book Jacket Synopsis: Stickley the frog has the gift of stick-to-it-ness. His sticky toes help him stick to windows, ceilings and surfboards — even under plates! But Stickley’s toes aren’t the only way he sticks to things. His attitude helps him stick with projects — no matter how frustrating or hard they may be — so he can reach his goals.

Why I like this book:

This is a clever and upbeat story that introduces children to the idea of sticking with a task or challenge and seeing it through to completion. This ultimately helps children feel proud about what they are doing. There are many humorous examples of Stickley participating in a science fair, a spelling bee and giving a speech.  Some projects require Stickley to take his time, test his patience, make him look at what he’s doing from a different perspective, and sometimes start over.  This is an excellent book for teachers to use in the classroom with students. I can see many great questions and lively discussions with students. Steve Mack’s illustrations are colorful, whimsical and expressive. They are entertaining and add to the story’s appeal.

Resources: The book includes a lengthy Note to Parents, Caregivers, and Teachers with more information about perseverance and strategies for encouraging children to plan, take breaks, ask for help and work with others to complete a task.

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.

Imagine a Rainbow: A Child’s Guide for Soothing Pain

Imagine a Rainbow9781591473848_p0_v1_s260x420Imagine a Rainbow: A Child’s Guide for Soothing Pain

Brenda S. Miles, Ph.D.

Nicole Wong, Illustrator

Magination Press, Nonfiction, 2006

Suitable for Ages : 4-8

Themes:  Chronic pain in children and adolescence,  Arthritis, Burns, Cancer, Lupus, Sickle Cell

Opening“You are a child.  It doesn’t seem fair, That sometimes your body can hurt everywhere.  There’s a way to feel better, something children can do.  The ideas in your mind can help you get through.  Imagine a rainbow with red, green and blue, Bright ribbons of color that wrap around you.”

Synopsis:  Children who suffer with chronic pain are encouraged to use their imaginations and deep breathing as tools for easing their pain. Written in soothing rhyme, the author uses the images of a warm rain, a wind blowing softly, cuddling with a puppy, a clouds in a sky, rainbows, and a field filled with daisies and grass.

“Imagine the ocean with sparkling waves. That lift up your body and whisper BE BRAVE.”

“Think of funny ideas like hippos in skirts. Send your laughter to places inside you that hurt.

“Imagine the sun shining warm on your face.  Let it glow on your body wherever you ache.”

Why I like this book:  I am overjoyed to find a picture book written so simply for children who live with chronic pain, like sickle cell, arthritis, burns, cancer, and lupus.  Brenda Miles’ book empowers children by encouraging them to use imagery/visualization and deep breathing to help them when their bodies are hurting.  This is a very encouraging book to share with kids who are learning to cope with chronic pain.   Wong’s illustrations are whimsical ink and watercolors that inspire, uplift, calm, warm and sooth the child.  They are exquisite.

Resources:  Brenda Miles, Ph.D, is a pediatric neuropsychologist.  She has written backpages for parents to help them understand the concepts of imagery, deep breathing, and coping with chronic pain and medical procedures.  Her goal is to help teach parents how to guide their children through visualization, relaxation exercises and manage their own pain.  Children are very creative and may have their own special images they can draw upon.   They may use these techniques anywhere and anytime.

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.