Tuesday, March 29, 2016

More Picture Books!

Since I'm in school to become a library media specialist, I've been reading more book beyond middle grade and young adult.  So I thought every once in awhile I'd share some great picture books I've seen and read.

Good Night Owl by Greg Pizzoli

This book was super cute! Poor owl wants to go to sleep but a noise keeps him awake.  In search of the noise he ends up taking his entire house apart! If only he had looked around he would've seen the source sooner.  I can see little ones really giggling through this book as they watch poor owl take more desperate measures to find the noise.  Kids will know what is causing the noise and they'll find it funny that owl goes so far!

I love the illustrations in this book. They colors are great.  They are bright bold colors, but also not the soft washed out colors.  They were just a bit different than what I've seen.

Smile Cry by  Tania McCartneyJess Racklyeft

This is a cute book that has two different stories.  One story starts at each end and meets in the middle.  One is all about things that make us cry and the other about things that make us smile.  What I really loved is that it address the idea that happy things can make us cry and sad things can make us smile. As an adult I could relate to so many things in this book.  I found myself nodding or smiling at many of the pages.  I think for younger kids it would be good because it would help them understand their emotions and the emotions of others. As a teacher I could see myself using this book in so many different ways!

That's Not Bunny! by Chris Barton and Illustrated by Colin Jack

Ok I'll admit that the first time I read this I didn't get it, and I didn't find it funny.  But I picked up a few days later and it got me giggling! This is a fun story about a hawk trying to nab a bunny but instead keeps getting vegetables! The more vegetables he gets the more upset he gets.  The tag line "that's not bunny" gets more intense as he keeps missing the bunny! I could see kids getting into the story and laughing every time he nabs another vegetable.  And I could see them chiming in when the tag line comes in.  
Bold illustrations with lots of humor add a lot to the story. 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Review: Mouse Scouts by Sarah Dillard

Title: Mouse Scouts
Author: Sarah Dillard

Meet Violet, Tigerlily, Hyacinth, Petunia, Junebug, and Cricket, six new Mouse Scouts who are trustworthy and strong, thrifty and brave . . . and destined to be friends to the end! Best friends Violet and Tigerlily can’t wait to start earning their merit badges. But their troop leader, Miss Poppy, is one strict rodent. And earning their first badge—planting a vegetable garden—is hard work. Will the troop drive unwanted pests from the garden and earn their Sow It and Grow It badge? And will they ever get Miss Poppy to smile?

The first thing I said when I open the package with these books in it was “These are so cute!”.  Just the cover and coloring was adorable.  Yes they were “girly” colors but they weren’t flashy shiny pink.  They have such soft pretty colors! Actually they almost look retro with the coloring, lettering and illustrations.

Ok now about what was after the cover! This was just a fun little story with a nice message.  The girls have to work hard, and work together to get their garden to grow and to solve problems that crop (see what I did there!) up like bugs and lack of water.  It was nicely done with ideas coming in different ways.  The girls didn’t always see eye-to-eye on what to do, but in the end they worked it out.

I really kinda liked that Miss Poppy was stern and almost crabby.  I know it’s weird to like that, but I was glad it didn’t fall into the pattern of the overly sweet troop leader that teaches them everything.  Instead, because of how Miss Poppy is, the girls step up and figure things out themselves.  Much better!

Final thought:  Cute series that will appeal to young girl readers – especially those in Daisy Scouts!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Picture Book Review: Therese Makes a Tapestry by Alexandra S.D. Hinrichs

Title: Therese Makes a Tapestry
Author: Alexandra S.D. Hinrichs
Illustrator: Renee Graef

Step back in time to seventeenth-century Paris with Thérèse, a talented young girl who lives and works at the Gobelins Manufactory, where Europe’s greatest artisans make tapestries and luxury objects for King Louis XIV. Even though girls are not trained on the great looms there, Thérèse practices on a small one at home and dreams of becoming a royal weaver someday.

This charming story follows Thérèse as she carries out an ambitious plan with the help of family, friends, and the artisans of the Gobelins. The intricate craft of tapestry weaving is illuminated, and surprises await Thérèse, her parents and brothers, and even the king himself. 

This is a beautifully illustrated book! The colors are perfect, and the details on each page are amazing.  This is a book that I (or any child) could explore over and over.  I just loved the visual aspect of the book.

Of course it's more than that.  The story is just as interesting.  I loved the story of Therese wanting to give something has a gift, and creating this wonderful piece of art that gets the recognition it deserved.  I found myself cheering for her.  I also was intrigued just by the time period and place of the story.  I wanted to know more about it.  What her story real?  Did any woman create during this time. What real examples of what she created are around that I could see? I was excited to learn that, even though fiction, it was based on a real-life people, places and tapestries.  The tapestry Therese creates is based on a real tapestry!   I could see using this in the classroom and those same questions coming forward.  

In the end the story is wonderful both visually and thoughtfully.  

Praise for the book:

“This charming narrative of a determined girl’s artistic talent and will to succeed in the family
business makes a compelling story on an unusual topic.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Through an engaging picture story, we learn about the process that was used to make intricate tapestries at the Gobelins Manufactory in 17th century France. Thérèse is a fictional character but she comes to life in Renée Graef’s detailed and meticulously researched illustrations that give us a sense of what it was like for a child growing up in a family of artisans. This is an elegant volume that will be a pleasure for families to read together.” —Kathleen T. Horning,

About the Author
Alexandra S. D. Hinrichs loves reading, writing, baking, playing outside, and exploring everything from history to new cities. She holds masters degrees in History (History of Childhood) and Library & Information Studies (Youth Services) from University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her previous experience includes working as a historical researcher at American Girl, as a substitute youth services librarian, and as a children’s bookseller. She spent a delightful year teaching kindergarten at a private Thai School in Bangkok, Thailand.

Originally from a small town in central Massachusetts, Hinrichs also has lived and studied in New York, France, and Wisconsin. She now makes her home with her spouse and two small sons in Bangor, Maine.

Website: www.alexandrahinrichs.com
Twitter: @puddlereader
Facebook: www.facebook.com/alexandrasdhinrichs

About the Illustrator
Renée Graef is an award-winning illustrator who graduated from the University of
Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in art. She has illustrated over 80 books for children, including the Kirsten series in the American Girl collection and many of the My First Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Renée worked as an art director for the Little House program at Harper Collins for five years and enjoyed traveling to all of the Laura Ingalls Wilder sites. Renée has also illustrated classics such as The Nutcracker and My Favorite Things, as well as books on American icons Mount Rushmore and Paul Bunyan. She has recently illustrated two books for Lidia Bastianich (of PBS’s Lidia’s Italy) and an alphabet book on timekeeping. Her accomplishments have been honored by the State of Wisconsin’s House of Representatives and the Society of Illustrators/LA, among other groups, and her work has been exhibited in numerous one-man shows.

Renee divides her time between Los Angeles and her home state of Wisconsin.
Website: www.reneegraef.com

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Book Review: Baseball History for Kids by Richard Panchyk

Title: Baseball History for Kids
Author: Richard Panchyk

Baseball History for Kids is a fascinating and unique journey through the modern history of America’s favorite pastime. Kids will discover how the game has changed over the years, reading about topics such as the Dead Ball Era, World War II, segregation and integration, Bonus Babies, the Reserve Clause and Free Agency, and the Designated Hitter. Along the way, they’ll enjoy firsthand quotes and stories from more than 175 former major leaguers who were eyewitnesses to and participants in baseball’s most incredible feats and biggest moments.  
Readers will also get an intimate look at the game’s greatest legends, from Babe Ruth, Satchel Paige, and Ted Williams to Jackie Robinson, Mickey Mantle, and Willie Mays, including insightful and amusing anecdotes from former teammates and opponents. They will gain additional insight into the game through 19 interesting activities. Children will learn how to calculate a player’s batting average and ERA, throw a palmball, design a logo for their favorite team, cook a bowl of Cracker Jack, and more. The book also includes a time line and list of books, websites, and places to visit.

If you have a young baseball fan (or even not so young) this would be a great book for them.  My husband got me into baseball from our first date.  We are now season ticket holders for the MN Twins!  He knows a ton about the game and has taught me a lot, but there is still so much I don't get.  Instead of having to bug him I found answers in this book!  Yes, yes it covers the history of baseball, but it has fantastic sidebars that explain things like calculating ERA and batting average.  I really liked the section on how to keep score by hand.  Don't laugh at me but I didn't know each position was numbered! I love that I can turn to this book and relearn those things.  And I really think young kids would feel the same.

Ok beyond that the history is well done.  It's broken down into several sections from 1901 thru today.  Each section has smaller stories about things that happened during that time.  There were stories about the first measured home run (with a tape measure!) and stealing signs and messing up players.  You could pick a bit here and then to read and eventually move your way through the whole book.  

About the activities:  Some are ones I'm not sure a kid would do on his or her own - like writing a poem about baseball.  But others might be fun.  I want to try the one about keeping score for the next game I go to.  I think it would help me understand the game even better.  I also liked the activity about coming up with nicknames.  I can see some kids really having fun with that!

Lastly the pictures - the book has many pictures of baseball thru history.  They were fun to look at.  I'm guessing that when my 8 year old gets to finally have this book he'll spend a lot of time paging through it looking at the pictures and reading what grabs his attention.

Final thought:  If you have a young baseball fan it would be a great addition to their library.