Where's Will?

Where’s Will?: Find Shakespeare Hidden in His Plays
Illustrator: Tilly; Author: Anna Claybourne
Published September 1, 2015 by The Ivy Press

Goodreads Summary: Spot Will Shakespeare and a selection of colourful characters from ten of his best-loved plays! Can you pick out Puck in the midsummer night? Will you spy Cecilia hidden in the Forest of Arden? And can you see Shakespeare making a cameo in every scene?

First, get to know each play by reading a snappy synopsis of the plot and meeting the main characters. Next, hunt for the characters, who are hidden in the detailed and beautifully illustrated pictures of the plays’ settings.

My Review: This book was a lot of fun for me to read! Readers of all ages would enjoy it. My son (age two) enjoyed pointing to all of the animals and people in the book. An elementary schooler or middle schooler would enjoy finding Will, the characters, and the pig in all of the pictures. A high schooler or adult will appreciate the brief (about 300 words) synopses of each play and illustrations (along with finding Will, of course). Each play features a two-page spread similar to a graphic novel, where the play is depicted in illustrations and words. At the top of each spread are cameos of the main characters of the play. Then, the reader can turn the page and search for the characters, Will, and the pig in a very detailed illustration (see below). 

Teachers’ Tools for NavigationI haven’t read the full version of each play featured in the book, but I am quite inspired to read them now! High school teachers would love this book. It shows the complexity and greatness of Shakespeare’s work. After reading one of Shakespeare’s plays, a teacher could show the students the synopsis and the spread. This provides a picture of the time period and also allows for conversations about why the author may have made decisions to include/exclude specific plot details. If my tenth graders had all read Romeo & Juliet the previous year, it would be neat to show them that play. Then, when we read another Shakespeare play, I could ask them to illustrate their own scenes. This would be an intense final project, and I would give the option for students to use video games as a platform for this kind of world-building.

Discussion Questions: How do the illustrations of the plays differ? Why might the illustrator have chosen to depict the play with these colors/moods?; What tough decisions might the author have faced when choosing the plot details to include in the 300-word synopses?; How do these illustrations/synopses give us fuller depictions of the plays?

We Flagged: 

where's will

Read This If You Loved: Plays by William Shakespeare; Where’s Waldo? books

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**Thank you to Lynn for providing a copy for review!**

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top ten tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. The feature was created because The Broke and Bookish are particularly fond of lists (as are we!). Each week a new Top Ten list topic is given and bloggers can participate.

 Today’s Topic: Fictional Families We’d Invite to Thanksgiving

The door is always open, folks!


1. The Nguyens from Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

This family is kind and giving. I fell in love with them.

2. The Finches from To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (but not from Go Set a Watchman)

I’d love for Atticus to share some of his wise words with the table. I am keeping my image of him sacred, so we will stick with the first book.

3. The Sweetwines from I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

I want to give the twins a big ol’ hug.

4. The Donabedians from Like Water on Stone by Dana Walrath

Yet another set of children that I want to hug!

5. The Nisbetts from The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine

I liked how the parents in this book tried hard to teach Marlee about the world while still working to be fair. Even when Marlee is punished, she recognizes that her punishment is fair. I didn’t like the mother as much in the beginning, but she dynamically changes as the book progresses, and the family felt very real to me.


1. The Nguyens from Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

I know, I know, but I had to include Willow! I love what this family became by the end of the book, and I would definitely love to spend time with them.

2. The Weasleys from Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

Well, first, I love redheads, but second, I love all of the Weasleys! Dinner at their house would be so much fun (though pre-book 7 would be more fun that post…)

3. The Murphys from One for the Murphys by Lynda Mulally Hunt

The way the Murphys embrace Carley shows me what an amazing family they are.

4. The Kanes from The Kane Chronicles by Rick Riordan

I wuld love to be surrounded by all the mythology and adventure, even for one day! (Though they can keep the danger.) I also would love to hang out with Bast.

5. Rafe’s family from Openly Straight by Ben Konigsberg

His parents seem like the most caring, opening, fun, and sweet parents, and I would love to spend a day with them and Rafe.

Which fictional families would you invite to your dinner table?

RickiSig and Signature


IMWAYR 2015 logo

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA!

It’s Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme started by Sheila at Book Journeys and now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It’s also a great chance to see what others are reading right now…you just might discover the next “must-read” book!

Kellee and Jen, of Teach Mentor Texts, decided to give It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children’s literature – picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit – join us! We love this meme and think you will, too.

We encourage everyone who participates to support the blogging community by visiting at least three of the other book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them.

Last Week’s Posts

top ten tuesday over the river The Not Very Merry Pout-Pout Fish interstellar cinderella #BabyLove Book Cover

Tuesday: Recent Book Quotes We’ve Loved

Wednesday: Over the River & Through the Wood: A Holiday Adventure by Linda Ashman

Thursday: Blog Tour, Review, and Giveaway!: The Not Very Merry Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen

Friday: Interstellar Cinderella by Deborah Underwood

Sunday: Author Guest Post!: Parents + Baby + Technology = #BabyLove by Corine Dehghanpisheh

**Click on any picture/link to view the post**

 Last Week’s Journeys and This Week’s Expeditions

We are currently at the NCTE convention and ALAN Workshop (yahoo!). We hope to see some of you there! Because we will be presenting and attending many meetings, we are, unfortunately, out of commission this week. We can’t wait to return and read about all of the books you are reading. Next week, we will share all of the gems we receive and learn about at the convention and workshop! Have a happy reading week!

Upcoming Week’s Posts

top ten tuesday Where's Will? case of the missing carrot Whistlebrass Horror Cover

Tuesday: Ten fictional families we’d invite to Thanksgiving dinner

Wednesday: Where’s Will?: Find Shakespeare Hidden in his Plays by Tilly and Anna Claybourne

Thursday: Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday: The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake by Robin Newman, Illustrated by Deborah Zemke

Sunday: Author Guest Post! by Jack Keely, author of The Whistlebrass Horror

 So, what are you reading?

Link up below and go check out what everyone else is reading. Please support other bloggers by viewing and commenting on at least 3 other blogs. If you tweet about your Monday post, tag the tweet with #IMWAYR!

 Signature andRickiSig


Parents + Baby + Technology = #BabyLove

#BabyLove: My Social Life highlights the social phenomena of sharing daily activities using technology and social networks.

The inspiration for my book, #BabyLove: My Social Life came from my experiences of using many devices, apps, and social media with my child.  After the birth of my daughter Lily, I became a jubilant mother.  I wanted everyone to meet her and get to know her especially my immediate family and friends.

There was just one tiny problem­– my husband, and I lived out of state, quite a distance away from most of our closest family and friends.  So like many other new parents and families in today’s society, we took to our phones– photographing and creating videos of our baby girl.  We shared some of these items through social media, texting, emailing, and anything else that kept us connected with our loved ones.

We wanted our family and friends who were interested in getting to know Lily to be kept updated on her progress.  Along with updating our social network feeds, we found family photo sharing options with more privacy and regularly made FaceTime calls.

These modern tools coupled with quite a few family trips home have been a big help in establishing close connections for Lily.  As she grew out of infancy into toddlerhood, she began recognizing faces and voices as they popped up on our phones and in person.  This advancement and connection made my husband, and me relieved.

I know that these tools fall far from perfect or efficient.   So I take advantage of the positive aspects of these devices, apps, and social media sites along with the necessary security measures to enjoy their benefits.

Even though the premise of #BabyLove: My Social Life is cute and humorous the story could be used to introduce more thought provoking discussions or education on the topics of social media, technology, and parenting in today’s modern world.

BabyLove Banner

I have provided some ideas below of topics that could be used in a parenting group, class, or classroom discussions with students.

Parenting Topics

  1. Relevant apps that aid in parenting and education.
  2. Put down the phone­– parents as technology role models.
  3. Technology and social media safety.
  4. How to establish on-line privacy and setting parental controls.

Classroom Topics

  1. Provide guidelines for using technology and social media safely.
  2. Discuss the positive and negative aspects of technology and social media.
  3. Relevant educational apps.

#BabyLove Book Cover

About the Book: “Click.” “Tap.” Tag and Post. An adored baby tells a modern tale about life in today’s digital world. #BabyLove: My Social Life highlights the social phenomena of sharing daily activities using technology and social networks.

“A charming modernization of the traditional bedtime tale.”- Reviewed by Kirkus

“#BabyLove: My Social Life, is a clever and entertaining look at raising children in the age of social media… The author’s story flows beautifully, and her illustrations are brightly colored, cheerful and humorous… Dehghanpisheh’s wry and subtle humor is evident throughout this story that will entertain adults as well as the children they share the book with. #BabyLove: My Social Life is highly recommended for tech-savvy parents and their babies.” – Reviewed by Readers’ Favorite

#BabyLove offers a hipster view of contemporary parenting. Beneath the story of technological trendiness, however, lies a more enduring portrait of nurture and joy.” – Reviewed by Foreword Clarion Reviews

#BabyLove was published in July 2015 and is available for sale on Amazon.

Corine Dehghanpisheh

About The Author: Corine Dehghanpisheh is a children’s book author and illustrator. Her inspirations for writing and illustrating come from everyday life.

She was a Mom’s Choice Awards® Silver Recipient and a Next Generation Indie Author Finalist for her debut children’s book Can We Play Again?, which was published in March 2012. Her inspiration for this book came from her work as a Licensed Creative Arts Therapist in NYC. Corine published her second children’s book, Buddy’s Dream, in November 2013, and her third children’s book, #BabyLove: My Social Life, in July 2015.

When Corine is not busy being creative, she is most likely having fun taking pictures of her family. Corine lives in Manhattan, NY with her husband and new baby.

Readers can connect with Corine on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads. To learn more, go to http://www.booksbycorined.com/ 

Thank you Corine Dehghanpisheh for introducing us to picture books 2.0,

Kellee Signature andRickiSig


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interstellar cinderella

Interstellar Cinderella
Author: Deborah Underwood
Illustrator: Meg Hunt
Published May 5th, 2015 by Chronicle Books

Goodreads Summary: 

Once upon a planetoid,
amid her tools and sprockets,
a girl named Cinderella dreamed
of fixing fancy rockets.

With a little help from her fairy godrobot, Cinderella is going to the ball–but when the prince’s ship has mechanical trouble, someone will have to zoom to the rescue! Readers will thank their lucky stars for this irrepressible fairy tale retelling, its independent heroine, and its stellar happy ending.

My Review:  I am a huge fan of fairy tale retellings, and I am an even bigger fan of fairy tale retellings that take away the “whoa is me” aspect of the female protagonist. Interstellar Cinderella does just that. Deborah Underwood has given us a Cinderella that we all would aspire to be. She can fix rockets, has robots, and even is quite sensible when it comes to the prince. I am also very impressed with the rhyming of the text. It does not seemed forced and is actually quite humorous at times.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Interstellar Cinderella would be a great addition to a fairy tale unit. I can picture a jigsaw/lit circle of sorts where each group reads an original fairy tale and a picture book retelling the fairy tale then the group discusses how the story was changed, the themes of both stories, compare/contrast the characters and other narrative elements, and then share with the class their analysis. Interstellar Cinderella is also a great example of a science fiction picture book for a genre lesson.

Discussion Questions: How is this Cinderella different than other Cinderellas?; Do you think the book ended with a “happily ever after”?; How does Cinderella save herself?

We Flagged: 

interstellar cinderella spread

Read This If You Loved: Rapunzel’s Revenge by Shannon Hale, Ninja Red Riding Hood by Corey Rosen Schwartz, Fairy Tale Comics edited by Chris Duffy, Princeless by Jeremy Whitely

Recommended For: 

classroomlibrarybuttonsmall readaloudbuttonsmall closereadinganalysisbuttonsmall litcirclesbuttonsmall


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The Not Very Merry Pout-Pout Fish

The Not Very Merry Pout-Pout Fish
Author: Deborah Diesen; Illustrator: Dan Hanna
Published: September 8, 2015 byFarrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)

Summary: Holiday sequel to The New York Times bestselling Pout-Pout Fish series reminds young readers what being merry is all about

The grumpiest fish in children’s literature is back with another case of “the dreary wearies.” This time, Mr. Fish, star ofThe New York Times bestselling Pout-Pout Fish series, is down in the dumps over holiday shopping. With a message for readers of all ages, The Not Very Merry Pout-Pout Fish (Farrar, Straus, & Giroux Books | Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group, Ages 2-6) finds Mr. Fish so consumed with finding that perfect gift for each of his friends that he forgets the true meaning of the holidays.

When Mr. Fish—with his signature Pout-Pout Fish frown—comes up empty-handed, Miss Shimmer intervenes with a plan to make homemade gifts. He soon learns that it’s not about busting the budget or gifting the season’s hottest item, but giving from the heart. Together they experience the joy that comes from giving and sharing—the merriest gifts of all.

Ricki’s Review: Ever since I received this book, my toddler has demanded I read it to him multiple times a day. The story has a wonderful moral that is very important for the gift-giving season. As a mom, I work really hard to try to show my son that material items should not be significant. Not only does this book teach lessons related to this topic, but it prizes friendship. I suspect we will be reading this book again and again in years to come because the need for this lesson will recur as he grows older. He loves the complexity of the illustrations. There is so much to look at on each page!

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This book offers opportunities for students to create their own homemade gifts for friends, family, or those in need. It will inspire students to want to create something that will be greatly appreciated by another person.

Discussion Questions: How might you show your love to a family member or friend without buying anything? Do you think they would appreciate it more or less? Why?; How does pout-pout fish learn the value of gift-giving? What do his friends think about his gifts?

We Flagged:

Pout Pout 2 (1)

Read This If You Loved: The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen; The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein; Books about Giving and Generosity; Books about Christmas


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Recommended For: 

 readaloudbuttonsmall classroomlibrarybuttonsmall

Q&A with Author Deborah Diesen

How did you come up with the original Pout-Pout fish book in 2008?

The story grew out of an actual pout! One day many, many years ago, when my elder son was a preschooler, he was having a very grouchy afternoon. Hoping to amuse him, I made an exaggerated pouty face at him. He smiled and then pouted right back, which got us both laughing. “We look like fish,” I said. “Like pout-pout fish!” As soon as I said that out loud, it became a story idea. I jotted the idea down and I started writing The Pout-Pout Fish that same day. Years later, I started sending the story to publishers, and in 2005 it was accepted at Farrar, Straus & Giroux Books for Young Readers. The book was published in 2008 and began a series of stories, all featuring Mr. Fish, his friends, and their adventures.

Since the first book, we’ve seen Mr. Fish go to school, learn to smile, face the dark, discover how to dream and play hide-and-seek. What do kids (and their parents) love most about the series?

I think one of the things that makes Mr. Fish an appealing character for many kids and parents is that kids and parents alike can identify with his experiences. Toddlers sometimes pout; so do adults! Preschoolers have things they’re scared of; so do adults! Kindergarteners get nervous about starting something new; so do adults! Mr. Fish’s experiences provide a way for kids and grown-ups to explore those issues together. In addition, the stories have rhyme, repetition, and wordplay, which are fun in a read-aloud book. And Dan Hanna’s illustrations! They’re fantastic. They truly bring the stories to life.

What is Mr. Fish up to now? Does he have a case of the “dreary wearies” in the latest book, too?

Mr. Fish’s newest adventure is called The Not Very Merry Pout-Pout Fish. In it, Mr. Fish is in a bit of a holiday panic, searching for perfect gifts for all of his friends. His shopping trip is unsuccessful, and Mr. Fish is sure that he’s let all of his friends down. But his friend Miss Shimmer reminds him that the best gifts of all come straight from the heart, and she helps him craft simple and meaningful presents to bring to the holiday party. His friends are delighted with their presents, and together everyone celebrates peace, joy, and love – what a very merry gift!

What do you hope young readers (ages 3-6) will learn from The Not Very Merry Pout-Pout Fish? Is there a message here for grown-ups as well?

I hope that Mr. Fish’s latest tale will help children to realize that presents don’t need to be expensive or complicated or splashy. Simple, heartfelt presents that connect us to one another are the best gifts of all. A drawing; a craft project; time spent together; even just a smile! These sorts of gifts are the most cherished and the most enduring. It’s a lesson we grown-ups have to re-learn periodically as well.

Do you have any tips for parents of toddlers about the joy of giving presents, rather than just receiving them, this holiday season?

Kids love to give presents, and they especially love having an active role in the process of creating the presents. Try a craft idea or project that’s extremely simple and stress-free, and then let your child have at it with a minimum of help. The more messy, lopsided, and imperfect the results the better! Have fun with the process, and as you do you’ll create not just gifts but memories as well.

How do you and the illustrator, Dan Hanna, work together on the books? (Are there any special stories about the illustrations on Not-Very-Merry that you can share?)

I absolutely adore Dan’s art, and I credit it as the reason for the success of the series. We work independently of one another during the creation of the books. I work with our editor on the stories; then, when a story is finished and ready, she passes it along to Dan. Dan moves through the art creation process, from sketches to finished product, working with our editor and with the art director. I do see some of the steps along the way, but during the illustration process the author’s most important task is to stay out of the way! And that’s for the best, because it allows the artist to bring the story to life in the way only an artist can. Dan brings a thousand times more to the illustrations than I could ever begin to imagine – the characters and their expressions; the settings and their details; and all the funny and quirky extras. For instance, in The Not Very Merry Pout-Pout Fish, one of the spreads shows a store full of what I describe in the text as shiny trinkets and handy gadgets. Dan took that description and brought it alive by imagining, drawing, and labeling shelf after shelf in the gift shop with hilarious and unique sea gifts. His creativity is amazing. I feel very grateful and happy to get to make books with Dan!

Any future plans for Mr. Fish? What adventures can we expect to see him in next?

Mr. Fish has a new mini-adventure coming out later this year called Kiss-Kiss, Pout-Pout Fish. This mini-adventure, like the previous mini-adventures Smile, Pout-Pout Fish and Sweet Dreams, Pout-Pout Fish, is a very short board book with just a few words per page, meant for babies and young toddlers. In spring 2016, there will be a touch-and-feel alphabet book and a sticker book. Another mini-adventure, called Trick or Treat, Pout-Pout Fish, will arrive later in 2016. And in 2017, Mr. Fish will be in a new full-length hardcover called The Pout-Pout Fish, Far, Far From Home. He stays pretty busy these days! But he’s enjoying all of his adventures.

As am I!

Q&A with Illustrator Dan Hanna

How long have you been illustrating the Pout-Pout Fish books? What inspired your depiction of the main character, Mr. Fish?

I started illustrating the first book in early 2007 and so it’s been about 8 or 9 years now.

About 15 years ago I was scuba diving in Fiji.  There was a huge rusting hulk of a shipwreck about 80 feet down.  At the end of a pole extending above the deck was a small metal basket.  Resting in that basket was a pudgy fish about the size of my fist.  I swam up and looked right into his eyes and he looked right back with a deep, gloomy frown.  Years later, when I received the manuscript for The Pout-Pout Fish, that memory bubbled up.  I realized, at that moment, that Mr. Fish was an actual fish, living on the other side of the world, 80 feet down on a shipwreck.

When there’s a new Pout-Pout story to illustrate, how do you collaborate with author Deborah Diesen?

It may seem odd but I don’t communicate with Debbie regarding the illustrations.  I work with are the Editor (Janine O’Malley) and Art Director (Roberta Pressel).  When I initially receive a manuscript I’m given complete freedom to break it down into pages and to illustrate it however I think best.  After I complete the first dummy (a mock-up of the book) I send it to Janine and Roberta.  That begins a long series of feedback and changes until we get to a version that we’re all happy with.  At that point I begin the final art that will eventually be delivered to make the book.

What has been your favorite Pout-Pout book to illustrate? Why?

The first book!  Nothing can compare to getting your first book published.  Its success paved the way for all the others.  The original book was the first for both Debbie and me and that made it extra special.  Usually a publisher will team up a first timer with someone who has experience.  Fortunately, FSG took a chance on two rookies.

What medium do you use to make the illustrations? What’s your favorite to work with? Tell us about your creative process.

I use the PPPPP approach: Paper, Pencils, Pens, Paint and Photoshop.

My favorite is just pencil and paper.  When I start a new book I like to visit a variety of coffee shops in my area.  I let my caffeinated mind roam, scribbling out ideas and laughing to myself.  If a sketch doesn’t make me laugh then it usually doesn’t make the cut.

What illustration in The Not Very Merry Pout-Pout Fish did you have the most fun creating?

I especially like the one where Mr. Fish imagines giving Ms. Clam the robot body.  She just looks so happy and empowered.

The items in the shop and the gifts Mr. Fish imagines in this story are so detailed and quirky. How did you come up with them? Did you have a specific inspiration?

For the imagined gifts, I drew on my own experience as a kid where I would dream up magnificent presents for my family and friends.  Eventually, as with Mr. Fish, I would have to confront reality and drastically scale back my plans.

The shop items are based on all the goofy stuff you can find on the shelves of some of the more interesting gift shops.

Of all the items that the Pout-Pout fish dreams up (robot, spaceship, submarine etc.), which one would you love to get this Christmas?

The Submarine!  When I was a kid there was an ad in the back of a comic book for a submarine.  The ad went something like this:

“Delux Submarine!  Life Size!  Torpedo Tubes!  Absolutely NO Cardboard Parts!  Only $10!!

I saved up the money and sent away for it.   As I waited for it to be delivered my dreams were filled with visions of underwater adventure.  Eventually it arrived and sank my dreams into the abyss.  It was just a cardboard box with torpedo tubes made from toilet roll tubes.  It was even more depressing than the Sea Monkeys and X-Ray Glasses.

What do you think was your most valuable childhood experience?

Being bored.  I firmly believe that having enough free time to sit around and be bored is very important for the development of a healthy imagination.

What kinds of things inspire you to work?

I’m primarily motivated by death.  When I contemplate my eventual demise it scares me into action.  Although what really gets me going — is death and a cup of coffee.

What do you want the students to get out of your school visits?

That being a writer or illustrator is like being a wizard.  Your magic wand is a pencil.  Your potions are words and scribbles.  And the spells you cast will be the stories you write and the pictures you draw.  So pick up a pencil and make some magic happen!

Do you enjoy researching or do you prefer working totally from your imagination?

Initially I let my imagination run wild.  Then I knock it out with a tranquilizer dart while I do some research.  Finally, my groggy imagination re-awakes, snarls angrily and then runs wild again.  I’ve found that this approach works best for me.

Do you have any advice for aspiring picture book illustrators?

Buy one thousand parrots and place them in a room with a looped recording saying something like: “Dan Hanna can sure draw fish!” Then release the parrots, using a helicopter, over each of the major publishing houses. When the editors leave for lunch they’ll hear the parrots in the trees screeching “Aaaaccck, Dan Hanna can sure draw fish!” Now I know this scheme seems rather elaborate, but it worked for me.

How did it feel to have your first book (and author Deborah Diesen’s first book) become so successful?

It feels like a hot air balloon ride.  But not like one of those rides where the basket catches on fire or the balloon hits a power line or something.

What do you think will be the ultimate fate of your work?

Five billion years from now, when our sun has blown up and the Earth is a smoldering chunk of charcoal, humanity will hopefully have escaped to another planet.  Perhaps, packed away in one of the zillions of moving boxes will be an old, dusty copy of “The Pout-Pout Fish”.  Maybe then, some remnant of my wandering soul will smile as a genetically enhanced child stumbles across it and cracks open its ancient spine.




**Thank you to Alessandra for providing a copy for review!**

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over the river

Over the River & Through the Wood: A Holiday Adventure
Author: Linda Ashman
Illustrator: Kim Smith
Published October 6th, 2015 by Sterling Children’s Books


Pack up the pooches and load the van.
We need to leave by eight!
There’s so much to bring.
Do we have everything?
Come on, we can’t be late!

The classic song gets a fresh new twist! The fun begins when Grandma and Grandpa send invitations to their far-flung, modern, and multiracial family: Come to our house for the holidays—and bring your favorite pie!Off everyone goes, driving down snowy roads, riding the train, boarding a plane . . . even sailing along in a hot-air balloon. As each family faces an obstacle that delays their trip, they learn that sometimes the most old-fashioned form of transportation works best . . . NEIGH!

About the Author: Linda Ashman has written more than 20 children’s books, including Creaky Old House; Stella, Unleashed; No Dogs Allowed!, and TheTwelve Days of Christmas in Colorado (all Sterling). She lives in Chapel Hill, NC. Visit Linda online at lindaashman.com.

About the Illustrator: Kim Smith has a fun and vibrant extended family, perfect as inspiration for this book. This is the fourth children’s book she has illustrated, along with A Ticket Around the World (Owlkids Books), The Raven and the Loon (Inhabit Media), and The Twelve Days of Christmas in Canada (Sterling, NYP). Kim lives in Calgary, Alberta, with her husband, Eric, and their one-eyed goldfish named Goulash.

Kellee’s Review: Holidays are a great time to celebrate spending time with families, and Over the River & Through the Wood highlights the highs and lows of traveling to see family for the holidays. Told in the same rhythm as the original song, the book has been modernized to include families coming from all different places to go visit family. I also loved the different types of families that were represented in the book. It shows real families and how they are all so different.

Ricki’s Review: This text emanates warmth. I pulled my little guy onto my lap, and we cuddled as we read it together. I enjoyed the sense of adventure, and I might read this book before we go on a big family trip. While my son is only two, I had a nice time discussing what the family was doing and how our family holidays are similar and different. As a teacher I might include this with other holiday books to give a rich sense of different customs and practices of holidays.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Since the book is written to match the original song, it’d be fun to have students write their own version of the song that fits their experiences at the holidays. Or, they might take another song (holiday or not) and adjust the words to fit their culture/customs/experiences.

Discussion Questions: How do different families’ experiences differ during the holidays in the book? In real life?; What different types of families are in the book? In real life?; What differences are there between the original song and the book?

We Flagged: 

over the river spread

Read This If You Loved: Other versions of Over the River and Through the Wood including those by Lydia Maria Francis Child or John Steven Gurney

Recommended For: 


Kellee Signature andRickiSig

**Thank you to Sterling for providing copies for review!**

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