Come October an elementary school in my neighborhood "plants" a scarecrow garden in front of the building. Each scarecrow is dressed in its own unique costume. Here are a few of my favorites. Happy Halloween!
Monday, October 31, 2011
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Toon Books puts out wonderful graphic books for beginning readers. This batch are all 2011 Cybils nominees in the Easy Reader/Early Chapter Book category.*
*I am a first-round panelist in this category, and this review reflects my opinion only.
Thursday, October 20, 2011
"What is a bear's favorite baseball team?"
"Why do hummingbirds hum?"
Bear has some really great jokes. And he wants to tell them and hear his friends laugh. So he books a gig at the Woodland Stage. He invites all his friends, and when they show up on the big day, Bear step on stage and.... Bombs. Big time. Stricken by stage fright, Bear stumbles off into the night. Luckily, there is a solution to Bear's woes and by the end of this heartfelt and funny early chapter book, Bear sees his dream come true, although not in the way he--or the reader--might have predicted.
Author/illustrator Leo Landry has created an engaging character in Bear, a comedian better suited to writing the jokes than performing them. The seven chapters are sprinkled with jokes, the kind that kids in the early primary grades love to tell and which adults groan after hearing. The colorful illustrations are simple and spare, yet with enough details to help beginning readers with the text.
Oh, and the answers to the jokes? "Squash." "The Cubs." "Because they don't know the words." Groan!
Grin and Bear It
by Leo Landry
Charlesbridge, 48 pages
Published: July 2011
This book was nominated by Franki Sibberson for the 2011 Cybils Awards in the Easy Reader/Early Chapter Book category. I am a first-round panelist in this category, and this review reflects my opinion only.
Monday, October 17, 2011
It used to be said in publishing circles that the way to ensure a book's success is to write about Lincoln, dogs, or doctors. Therefore, a book entitled Lincoln's Doctor's Dog would be a guaranteed bestseller. I don't know how true that is today, but I do know that books about our four-legged best friends are a sure hit for the learning-to-read crowd. Here are three beginning readers featuring dogs.
Friday, October 14, 2011
The deadline for nominating books and apps for the Cybils ends on October 15th--that's tomorrow, folks! So head on over to the Cybils blog and nomination your favorites in kidlit. (You get to nominate only one in each category.) The form is here.
Thursday, October 13, 2011
My experiment was nothing compared to the 11 ones here, which progressively get more outlandish. The format for each experiment is structured according to the scientific method--with hilarious results: a question, such as "Will a piece of bologna fly like a Frisbee?", a hypothesis--A piece of bologna will fly like a Frisbee.", the steps of what to do--"Take bologna off your sandwich. Aim at friend. Shout 'Catch!' Hurl bologna through air.", and what happened--"Teacher caught bologna with his head. No recess."
By the last experiment the girl protagonist has grown fungus in her brother's sneaker, sprinkled glitter on the dog, attempted to order a beaver, used up her mother's expensive bottle of perfume, broken all the family's dishes in the washing machine, and flooded the house. All in the name of science!
The illustrations are a fun mix of pen-and-ink drawings, notebook sketches, photos, and diagrams. Budding mad scientists will snatch this excellent picture books off the shelves. You may want to put it out of reach!
11 Experiments That Failed
by Jenny Offill
illustrations by Nancy Carpenter
Schwartz & Wade books, 40 pages
Published: September 2011
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Hmmmm. War and Peace it ain't. How can such a plot-lite book be so hysterically funny? Trust me, it can. The answer lies in what isn't said in this minimalistic and clever romp. Keen-eyed viewers will spot the missing hat long before the bear does. His reaction when he finally realizes where he has seen it is priceless, and the ultimate outcome, in which justice is served, perhaps is a tad unsettling, although nothing a connoisseur of nursery tales would bat an eye at.
The simple text (the font in separate colors for each speaker) is understated and droll, as is the art. Klassen's bear protagonist looks steadily ahead, without expression, throughout most of the book. The exception comes at the story's climax, when his eyes open wide as the truth dawns. Kids will delight in finding the hat long before the bear and are sure to giggle when they decipher the punchline at the end. Highly recommended.
Other reviews at: Jen Robinson's Book Page, books4yourkids, A Fuse #8 Production
I Want My Hat Back
by Jon Klassen
Candlewick Press, 40 pages
Published: September 2011
Monday, October 10, 2011
This delightful book provides an intimate look at the unlikely friendship between a small boy and the one of the greatest artists of all times. Penrose writes conversationally to his young audience and lets them in on what it was like to know Picasso. Penrose, the child of Lee Miller, a photographer and renowned beauty, and Roland Penrose, an artist and writer, grew up on Farley Farm in East Sussex, England. Picasso, friends with both his parents, visited them at the farm. The Penrose family returned the favor and travelled to the south of France to stay with Picasso.
Penrose shows readers a kid's-eye view of Picasso, describing his love of animals (his goat Esmeralda was allowed inside his home), his playfulness, and his love of disguises. Throughout, Picasso's art shines. We see how he constantly created art out of whatever was at hand, turning broken bits of pots into sculpture and using a discarded toy car as a monkey's face. The message--that creating art is a joyful act, one that is natural and accessible to anyone willing to think outside the box--comes through loud and clear. The book is lavishly illustrated with photos of Picasso, his family and friends, his studio, and most of all his amazing body of work. Young readers will want to revisit this book again and again. I know I do!
|This portrait of Lee Miller, Antony Penrose's mother, was painted by Picasso in 1937.|
by Antony Penrose
Abrams Books for Young Readers, 48 pages
Nonfiction Monday is at Practically Paradise today.