Thursday, July 28, 2016

Another Book for the Election: When Penny Met POTUS by Rachel Ruiz

Title: When Penny Met POTUS
Author: Rachel Ruiz
Illustrations: Melissa Manwill

Penny has heard the term POTUS over and over but doesn't know what it means and her imagination runs wild! When she spends a day at the office with her mother, she asks a few questions, looks around, and tries to discover just who or what POTUS is.

I'll be honest at first I questioned the premise of the book.  How could a child not know that her mom works for the President of the Unit States.  But then I thought about the term POTUS.  If a parent always used that term, a child might not understand what it means!  After I thought about that I found myself really liking the story.  

Instead of a person Penny thinks POTUS might be a creature of some sort.  She has no clue what to picture so her imagination really does run wild.  And then when she finally gets to the White House (or her mother's place of work as she knows it), she sets out to find this POTUS with each person adding to her imagination and confusion.  

I could see this being used with kindergartners or 1st graders and having them guess what POTUS is!  It would lead to a great learning opportunity about how POTUS stands for President of the United States.  

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

With the Election Let's Learn about Washington DC

Title: Washington, DC History for Kids: The Making of a Capital City
Author: Richard Panchyk

Chronicling the rich and fascinating history of Washington, DC, this useful resource for teachers and parents, reveals to young readers the city’s remarkable past through 21 hands-on activities. Children will gather items for a building cornerstone’s time capsule, design a memorial for a favorite president, take a walking tour of the National Mall, and much more. The book also includes a time line and list of books, websites, and places to visit.

I've reviewed several of books in this series on my other blog The O.W.L.  I've always found them very informative and great at getting kids to bring themselves into the history or topic.  This one was no different.

With all the election news kids are hearing right now, this is a great book to teach kids about Washington D.C.  What I really liked was that it wasn't just about the White House.  It looked at the whole city.  So many times books seem to focus on the White House, but this one reminds kids that there is a whole city filled with history.  It starts in the 1700's with the start of the city until now.  The pictures alone that follow the creation of the city are fun to see.  

The book also takes you through many of the monuments in D.C.  When I visited Washington the Vietnam Memorial was the most powerful place for me.  I was really struck by it.  This book explores the memorial and even ties one of the activities to it.  It talks about how to get a rubbing from the wall, but also how to go online and learn about the people behind the names.  Very well done.  

Another activity in the book is writing a letter much like a Civil War soldier would have including encouraging the child to sit outside and write it! What a nice way to help students getting a better understanding.  

Over-all a great book for anyone wanting to learn more about Washington D.C.  This would be a book I would share with teachers in my building who are studying American history or want to do more during this election year.

Friday, July 22, 2016

What Could it Be? Exploring the Imaginative World of Shapes by Sally Fawcett

Title: What Could it Be? Exploring the Imaginative World of Shapes
Author: Sally Fawcett

This concept book for kids is all about unleashing creativity, thinking outside the square and opening the mind to possibility! Part picture book, part artistic inspiration, What Could It Be? is an interactive adventure for pre-primary and primary school-aged children organised into paired double-page spreads. The first spread in each pair introduces a basic geometric shape (square, circle, triangle, etc.) and then opens the door for creative thinking by posing the question, 'What else could it be?'

The following spread provides the answer, with the focus shape transformed into many objects in a glorious artwork. These pages provide a further interactive element as kids are encouraged to find specific objects and count the 'hidden' shapes. The reader is guided through the pages by the character of a young boy, who allows many aspects of his world to be 'discovered' via the detailed illustrations. The last page challenges kids to create their own illustrations inspired by a geometric shape.

This is a very cute picture book that helps little ones learn shapes and then look for those shapes in everyday scenes.  The illustrations are bright and colorful with lots to look at.  I can see little kids pouring over the pages looking for different items or noticing different things.  I also liked that it went beyond circle and square and into shapes like hexagons.  This would be a great book to use with kindergartners that are still learning.

The end of the book also had a neat activity that extends the learning.  You can download a template of the shapes and then drawn your own pictures that use the shape.  I like that it went from looking to more applying.  Very nice. 

This book is perfect for kids still working on shapes or exploring more ways they create the shapes around us.  

Monday, July 18, 2016

Oh, Ick! 114 Science Experiments Guaranteed to Gross You Out by Joy Masoff

Title: Oh, Ick! 114 Science Experiments Guaranteed to Gross You Out
Author: Joy Masoff

From the bestselling author of Oh, Yuck! and Oh, Yikes!, with over 1.25 million copies in print, here is an A-Z compendium of hands-on grossness.

Featuring 117 interactive experiments and ick-tivities, Oh, Ick!delves into the science behind everything disgusting.

Stage an Ooze Olympics to demonstrate viscosity and the nature of slime. Observe how fungi grow by making a Mold Zoo. Embark on an Insect Safari to get to know the creepy crawlies around your home. And learn what causes that embarrassing acne on your face by baking a Pimple Cake to pop—and eat. Eww!

If you have a kid that loves science, loves to try things out and has a stomach for ickyness  then you might want to check out this book.  They will love this book.  I just warn to be ready to hear about the details of some things that might make you turn a bit green! I was reading through it while my son was playing soccer, and I bet if people were watching my face they were laughing because I was grimacing! Two topics got to me the most.  One was ear wax.  I'm not sure why that topic, but it just got to me! The other was toilets.  Reading about how toilets are different around the world and throughout history was interesting to put it mildly!  

I'd like to see some of the experiments in action.  There is one where you replicate the function of your intestines that looked interesting.  I also liked the activity where you made a tarantula out of food.  Not sure my husband would like this one though!

Final thought:  For kids who like the ick factor I can see them devouring this book.  It's got lots of facts, so it's great nonfiction that will teach them something as well.  

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Girl in the Well is Me by Karen Rivers

Title: The Girl in the Well is Me
Author: Karen Rivers

Longing to be one of the popular girls in her new town, Kammie Summers has fallen into a well during a (fake) initiation into their club. Now Kammie’s trapped in the dark, counting the hours, waiting to be rescued. (The Girls have gone for help, haven’t they?)

As hours pass, Kammie’s real-life predicament mixes with memories of the best and worst moments of her life so far, including the awful reasons her family moved to this new town in the first place. And as she begins to feel hungry and thirsty and light-headed, Kammie starts to imagine she has company, including a French-speaking coyote and goats that just might be zombies.

Before reading this book it was on my radar for a while.  About a month ago I finally sat down and read it.  I wish I hadn't waited so long.  First - it is a fairly short book, so I read it quickly.  Don't let that fool you into thinking it's a simple book.  It's not.  It has much much going on! The book opens with Kammie having just fallen into the well and is stuck.  At the start I just wanted to yell at the girls who knew she was down there but were doing nothing to help! They didn't seem to get the seriousness and that was very frustrating to me! They leave with the idea they are getting help.  From there the story grows.  I was fascinated by the way the back-story of Kammie unfolds.  You get little bits and pieces about what has happened to her and her family to land her in this new town and now in this well.  I felt so much for her.  I wanted to hug her so many times.  What I liked was that at points I thought I had the whole story, but then a new piece would come out.  It really wasn't until the end that I had it all. 

I really like Kammie.  The longer she is down there the more her personality comes out.  She is brave, stubborn (my favorite characteristic because I can relate to it!), confused, angry and uncertain of what to do.  We've all had times in our life like that and to watch a young girl struggle with this was hard.  I really cheered for her and felt for her.

There are a few giggles in the story especially when she starts to hallucinate.  It lightens the mood a little when it's needed.  

Final thought:  This is an emotional book.  Some kids may struggle with it finding it too serious so keep that in mind.  But some kids will relate to her emotions completely.  

Monday, July 11, 2016

Finding Dory in a Picture Book: Three Little Words by Amy Novesky

Title: Three Little Words
Author: Amy Novesky
Illustrator: Grace Lee

Whether you're just getting your fins wet or have already begun your journey, this story of hope and perseverance will inspire you to do as Dory would do: Just keep swimming.  Embark on a journey with the eternally optimistic blue tang as she crosses and ocean in search of her family.  Through both challenging and joyful times, Dory remembers the three little words that keep her striving toward her dream. 

The words of Dory have become part a part of our common vocabulary.  How many times have you heard someone say: Just keep swimming?! We all know that phrase.  This book uses Dory's words to remind us even in difficult times to just keep moving forward and not give up.  What ever the challenge may be you can get through it.  For me - knowing what Dory the character is like, the message came through loud and clear.  It's such a simple message but so important.  Couple this with sweet pastel illustrations and you have a beautiful book that kids will love! 

With the popularity of Finding Nemo and Finding Dory this is a book that young kids will love.  

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

You CAN Write in Books! Doodle Adventure Series by Mike Lowery

You know you're always told when you're young that you CANNOT write in books?  Not one little scribble! 

Well this series throws that all out the window! 

The Doodle Adventure Series puts a pen in your hand as you read asking you to draw in parts of the story or your own idea of what something might look like.  Perfect for fans of Diary of a Wimpy Kid or Creature From My Closet.  Like those books it has hand-drawn illustrations and fast pacing.  

It's not just a drawing book.  I like that it is actually a story, but it just has the reader interact with the text. The first book starts with a duck talking to the reader - a new recruit - and pulling the right into the story making them a character. For kids who struggle visualizing or staying focused it would definitely help! They would be reading a full story, but also having some of that activeness they need.  BTW - I really like that duck.  He made me giggle! 

About the Books

The Search for the Slimy Space Slugs
Doodle Adventures: The Search for the Slim!y Space Slugs! is a lighthearted fantasy where the reader first draws him- or herself into the story, and then continues by following prompts and adding more illustrations and doodles. Set in space, the book invites the reader to join Carl, a duck and member of a super-secret international group of explorers, on a journey in search of a very important grail-like object. The book is sturdy paper over board with beautiful cream paper—perfect for defacing! And by the end, the reader will have co-written a tale to return to again and again, and show off to family and friends.

The Pursuit of the Pesky Pizza Pirate!
Doodle Adventures: The Pursuit of the Pesky Pizza Pirate! is a rip-roaring adventure tale starring Carl, the friendly narrator who happens to be a duck, and the reader, who is drawn right into the story—literally. Together, they embark on the very important mission of finding out who has been stealing all of the pizza in town. Could it be the Dread Pirate Slobberts, the meanest, nastiest pirate ever to sail the Seven Seas? And, more important, how are they going to get all that pizza back?

Armed with a well-sharpened pencil and their imaginations, and following Carl’s prompts, readers fill in the blanks on each page until the story is complete. The result is a sturdy, one-of-a-kind book—starring you!—that’s as much a joy to read over and over again as it was to make.

I would recommend these books for elementary kids that need activity and enjoy a laugh.  They'll get both with the Doodle Adventure Books.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Sharks Are Nice Too! Nonfiction Book Review: Please Be Nice to Sharks by Matt Weiss

Title: Please Be Nice to Sharks
Author: Matt Weiss

Meet 14 cool sharks (and one manta ray) and see why it's important to BE NICE TO SHARKS! Though they’re often portrayed as vicious man-eaters, sharks actually kill fewer than 10 people per year. Yet those myths cause real harm: many species are being hunted to extinction, with as many as 100-200 million sharks being killed each year. This humorous book humanizes the incredible shark through breathtaking, original, underwater photography along with incredible facts about these amazing creatures in the wild—sending kids a crucial message about conservation in an irresistible format.

We all hear the stories about sharks in the news and of course there is the movie Jaws.  How could we not think that sharks are mean scary creatures.  This book sets out to make you think differently.  When I first saw it I thought of the whole scene in Finding Nemo with the sharks saying "Fish are friends not food."  Those sharks were trying to do the same thing!  I found this book cute and informative.  Each shark tells about himself and then gives reasons why they can't be bad, so you should be nice to him.  Usually they were based on parts of their physical features.  It really did teach facts about sharks, and each one was kind of silly so I did think that yes there was no reason to be scared of that type of shark.  

I can see kids really getting a kick out of this book because it is factual but funny at the same time.  My 9 year old son liked it finding it full of new information.  He also thought it was silly that each shark was telling why you should be nice to it.  

I also need to comment on the photography of the sharks.  Very well done! I loved that they gave good clear real pictures of each shark.  So not only was the reader learning about each, they were also given a nice visual.  Really added to the book.  

Over-all a fun factual book that I would definitely include in my media center.  And if you have an child that loves nonfiction I encourage you to check this out.