My Kicks: A Sneaker Story! by Susan Verde

My Kicks: A Sneaker Story!

Susan Verde, Author

Katie Kath, Illustrator

Abrams Books for Young Readers, Fiction, Apr. 11, 2017

Suitable for Ages: 5-7

Themes: A boy out grows his sneakers, Buying new shoes, Old sneakers have stories

Opening: Mom looked down at my feet and shook her head. “Those shoes have seen their day!”

Book Jacket Synopsis: There’s nothing like an old pair of Kicks. Sneakers have stories to tell. There’s the wear and tear from the first time they rode on a skateboard…the splatters of paint from an art project…the sticky drips from a delicious Popsicle on a hot summer day.

So when a young boy needs to buy a new pair, he fears they won’t compare. But what if some new kicks mean he might jump higher or run faster? What if having bigger shoes to fill means that new memories are just around the corner?

My Kicks is a tribute to how our favorite things reveal who we are and where we’ve come from, and celebrates the excitement in growing up and moving on.

Why I like this book:

Susan Verde has written a rollicking story that will resonate with most children — replacing a dependable pair of sneakers with new ones. Although kids like getting new shoes, they also feel an attachment to favorite pair of shoes. The boy in the story doesn’t want to let go of his favorite red sneakers. “No way! No how!” His sneakers may be worn-out and smelly, but they have great stories to tell.

As he heads to the store with his mom he recollects how he learned to tie his shoes, splashes through puddles, finds his balance on a skateboard and climbs trees. Many memories are made with a good pair of sneakers. The message is simple, clever, and quirky, but will be appeal to both readers and parents. “Each pair represents a slice of life and transitioning from one stage to the next,” says Verde.

Katie Kath’s ink and watercolor illustrations bring this story to life. They are diverse, lively and expressive. The vibrant color will appeal to young audiences.  She also uses white space well to hone the readers’ focus on the boy’s journey. She captures the boy’s changing moods as he moves from reluctance to excitement at what he may do with his new yellow sneakers. Visit Katie Kath at her website.

Resources: Parents and children will enjoy reading this delightful story together. Reminisce about your own favorite pair of sneakers growing up. This is a great opportunity for parents and children to share their stories about their favorite pair of sneakers. Make sure you peek under the outside book jacket. Children will be delighted to find a shoe-tying guide on the cover.

Susan Verde is the author of The Museum, You and MeI Am Yoga and The Water Princess. She lives just steps from the ocean in East Hampton, NY, with her three children. Her favorite kicks are her silver metallic high-tops. Visit Susan Verde at her website.

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.  

*I received a review copy of  My Kicks from the publisher.  The opinions in this review are entirely my own.

The Water Princess by Susan Verde

water-princess-61zdiscxojl__sy498_bo1204203200_The Water Princess: Based on the Childhood Experience of Georgie Badiel

Susan Verde, Author

Peter H. Reynolds, Illustrator

G.P Putnam’s Sons, Fiction, Sep. 13, 2016

Suitable for Ages: 5-8

Themes: Clean water supply, Carrying water, Africa, Georgie Badiel,  Multicultural

Opening: “I am Princess Gie Gie. My kingdom…the African Sky, so wide and so close. I can almost touch the sharp edges of the stars.”

Book Jacket Synopsis: With its wide sky and warm earth, Princess Gie Gie’s kingdom is filled with beauty. But clean drinking water is scarce in her small African village, and despite her commands, Gie Gie cannot bring the water closer; she cannot make it run clearer. Every morning, she rises before the sun to make the long journey to the well, and every evening, after the voyage home, Gie Gie thinks of the trip that tomorrow will bring. And she dreams. She dreams of a day when her village will have cool, crystal-clear water of its own.

Why I like The Water Princess:

The Water Princess is Susan Verde and Peter H. Reynolds’ newest jewel. They have created an inspiring story based on the childhood of fashion model Georgie Badiel, who grew up in Burkina Faso, West Africa.  The opening is like a prayer. Princess Gie Gie opens her arms wide and extends them to the expansive African sky. She is the ruler of her own kingdom and she feels powerful. She tames wild dogs with a song, makes the tall grass sway when she dances, and makes the wind play hide-and-seek. No matter how hard she tries, she cannot bring water closer to her village.

Verde’s text is rich and beautifully crafted. The narrative is strong and lyrical. “Water come! Do not make me wake before even the sun is out of bed!” I demand. “Come, please,” I say. It reflects the long journey that she and Maman walk to and from the dirty water hole daily. It is no easy task. The brown water is  boiled for drinking and used to prepare the family’s meal. The rest is used to wash clothing and bathing.

Reynolds’s paintings are breathtaking. They capture the dark purple and gold of the African night sky and Princess Gie Gie’s regal appearance with beads in her braided hair. They highlight the dusty African landscape and deep earth tones. One of my favorite illustrations is a silhouette of the women and children parading single-file to the water hole.

The Water Princess will introduce children to the fact that clean water is not available to people living in other parts of the world. In the story Princess Gie Gie dreams of finding a solution. “Someday…”  And  Georgie Badiel (AKA Princess Gie Gie) never gives up on her dream to bring a well with clean water to her village. Badiel shows kids how one person can make a big difference in their community. With Ryan’s Well, Georgie is working to bring this vital source of life to others in her country. Learn more about the inspiration for the story and the Georgie Badiel Foundation. 

Resources/Activities: The story tackles the issue of global water problems. It is important to read the Author’s Note which is perfect for helping children understand that everyone needs clean water because of the illnesses that are related to contaminated water.  Georgie’s situation can also be compared to clean water problems in America, like Flint, MI.

Join illustrator Peter H. Reynolds, author Susan Verde and collaborator Georgie Badiel for the launch of The Water Princess on Saturday, September 17 at 11 a.m. at Blue Bunny Books in Dedham Square, Massachusetts.  Visit Verde and Reynolds at their websites.

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.

You and Me – Susan Verde and Peter H. Reynolds

You and Me9781419711978_p0_v1_s260x420You and Me

Susan Verde, Author

Peter H. Reynolds, Illustrator

Abrams Books for Young Readers, Fiction, Jan. 6, 2015

Suitable for Ages: 5-8

Themes: Best Friends, Cats, Friendship, Fate, Rhyme

Opening: “Sometimes I think of how things came to be. / How we met. / How we became best friends. / You and me.”

Publisher’s SynopsisYou and Me is a loving tribute to how fate brought two best friends together. An adorable cat muses about the what-ifs in life: What if he had slept late that one special morning? What if he’d missed his train on that fateful day? Then he might never have met his favorite person in the world, and his entire life would be different!

Why I like this book: Susan Verde has written a charming tale about a serendipitous meeting between two cats at a train station– one yellow and the other purple. It is a heartwarming story about a friendship.

  • You and Me introduces children to the curious concept of life encounters that are due to chance meetings, perfect timing, fate or serendipity. The theme may seem a little big for children, but it is a concept they will quickly grasp, question and have great fun discussing.
  • Children will be amused with the yellow cat’s “what if’s.” “What if I had slept in, cover pulled up to my chin?…If I had sung opera in the shower…Or if the clock had been slow and I was late, lingering over my breakfast plate…”  Would they have ever become friends forever?
  • Verde’s narrative text is lyrical, sweet and simple for children. Adults will enjoy reading this lighthearted tale to children and reminiscing over serendipitous moments and magical encounters in their own lives.
  • Peter H. Reynolds’ illustrations are lively, whimsical and add a joyful spirit to the special friendship between the two cats.  His colorful illustrations are rendered in pen and ink, watercolor, and are playful and expressive. Great collaboration between Reynolds and Verde.
  • Visit Verde and Reynolds at their websites.

Resources: Who doesn’t like to think about fate, destiny, chance meetings, fate and serendipity. Big words for kids, but easily understood and fun to play with.  This story will trigger interesting conversations with children about the role of perfect timing plays out in their own lives. Ask them how they met some of their friends. Was it unplanned or unexpected? Was it a surprise? Did it lead to a friendship? This would make for a fun family or classroom discussion.

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 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.