Author: Stacy McAnulty
Illustrator: Joanne Lew-Vriethoff
Published December 4, 2018 by Running Press
Summary:From award-winning author Stacy McAnulty comes a sweet story about love and what it’s really all about.
What is love? Can you only express it in fancy meals, greeting cards, and heart-shaped chocolates? Kids will find love everywhere in this delightful book. It can be found in everyday moments such as baking cookies with grandma, notes from Mom in your lunchbox, or a family singing together on a car trip, and it isn’t always what you expect!
With delightful illustrations by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff and sweetly simple prose by award-winning author Stacy McAnulty, thisis the perfect book to teach children what love means, why it’s important, and how they can spread the love in their daily lives.
My Review: This is a very heart-warming book. I received it on Valentine’s Day, and my kids and I have read it dozens of times. It would make a wonderful gift to a friend or family member because it offers many angles for the power of love. This book offers a lot of teaching potential as students explore abstract concepts and the idea of the metaphor. One thing, in particular, that I like about this book is that it resists the commercialization of love. As readers might see in the spread below, “love needs special presents” but those presents are homemade or expressed with kindness. This is a very touching book, and I think readers will find joy in it.
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: I’d love to have students take an abstract concept (hope, grief, etc.) and create their own books to parallel this one. It would require a lot of brain power and would help students explore the idea of metaphors in their writing. I might even offer poetry that does this (e.g. “Hope is a thing with feathers” by Emily Dickinson).
- What is love? Who do you love?
- How do you express your love?
- Write your own page to add to this book. How does it fit in with the other pages?
Read This If You Love: Love. And who doesn’t?
What If…? Then We…: Short, Very Short, Shorter-Than-Ever Possibilities
Author: Rebecca Kai Dotlich
Illustrator: Fred Koehler
Published February 19th, 2019 by Boyds Mills Press
Summary: Two polar bear friends have a thrilling adventure as they imagine solutions to a variety of possible situations; their story will show readers how to create their own tales in response to the question “What if…?” in this ingenious picture book.
“What if . . . we got lost far, far, far away, and couldn’t find our way home? Then we would become the bravest explorers in the world.” So begin the adventures of two intrepid polar bears. Traveling on a ship imagined from an iceberg, the bears encounter magnificent sights and scary situations. When a city made of crayons melts, the bears use pencils to create a beautiful gray world. When all the words in the universe disappear, the bears invent their own language. When something really big and really scary happens, they whistle and hold hands until it’s not as big or scary anymore. And when they find their way back home, they’re ready to imagine a thousand more possibilities.
This companion title to the Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Book One Day, The End. is ultimately a book about imagination, friendship, and finding possibilities in the smallest moments.
Review: Rebecca Kai Dotlich and Fred Koehler are a super team! I love so many of their books without each other and their books together are only that much more special. Their imagination will take readers on adventures through places they’ve only dreamt of and will help them realize that their imagination can take them anywhere they can dream of. This newest book by the duo not only promotes imagination but also grit, courage, resilience, and friendship. These two polar bear cubs go on a fantastical adventure which will leave the readers wanting to know what is going to happen next. This book is full of possibilities in story that will be adored by so many readers!
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: WRITING MENTOR TEXT ALERT! Two ideas: 1) Have students write and illustrate their own “What If…? Then We…” stories. 2) Have students illustrate the words in the original text showing what else the words could mean.
- What if? Then We!
- What other adventures could this story have been telling?
Read This If You Love: One Day, The End by Rebecca Kai Dotlich; The Knowing Book by Rebecca Kai Dotlich; Super Jumbo by Fred Koehler; Penguin books by Salina Yoon
Don’t miss the other Blog Tour stops:
Monday, 2/11 Simply 7 Interview
Tuesday, 2/12 Storymamas
Wednesday, 2/13 Librarian in Cute Shoes
Thursday, 2/14 Mrs. Knott’s Book Nook
Friday, 2/15 Miss Marple’s Musings
Monday, 2/18 Bridget and the Books
Tuesday, 2/19 Radio, Rhythm and Rhyme
Thursday, 2/21 KidLit Frenzy
Friday, 2/22 Unleashing Readers
Book Seed Studio
**Thank you to Boyds Mills for providing books for review and giveaway!**
It’s Not Hansel and Gretel
Author: Josh Funk
Illustrator: Edwardian Taylor
Anticipated Publication: March 1, 2019 by Two Lions
Goodreads Summary: In the fairytale mashup, Hansel and Gretel talk back to the narrator, refusing to play their roles.
About the Creators:
Like Hansel and Gretel, Josh Funk doesn’t like being told how stories should go—so he writes his own. He is the author of a bunch of picture books, including the popular Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast series, illustrated by Brendan Kearney, and recently; How to Code a Sandcastle, illustrated by Sara Palacios; and Lost in the Library: A Story of Patience & Fortitude, illustrated by Stevie Lewis. He lives in New England with his wife and children. Learn more about him at www.joshfunkbooks.com and follow him on Twitter @joshfunkbooks.
Edwardian Taylor has worked as a visual development artist and character designer in the game and animation industry. He illustrated the picture book Race!, written by Sue Fliess and the chapter book Toy Academy: Some Assembly Required, written by Brian Lynch. He lives in Texas with his partner and their four dogs. Learn more about him at www.edwardiantaylor.com and follow him on Tumblr, Instagram, and Twitter @edwardiantaylor.
Ricki’s Review: When I brought this home, my sons squealed. My two-year-old ran into his room to grab It’s Not Jack in the Beanstalk to prove that he saw comparisons between the two books. We’ve had this book for a couple of weeks, and I’ve read it numerous times. It’s very fun to read aloud, and the story offers so much for teachers and classrooms (see below). The book makes me laugh, and I love the addition of adult humor to keep me as entertained as my children. When I teach my college course of Teaching Reading, we talk about picture books that are transferable to secondary classrooms, as well. This picture book would serve as a great mentor text within middle and high school classrooms. It is wonderfully conceived and cleverly written.
Kellee’s Review: As a huge fan of fairy tale retellings, I love when authors come up with a new and unique concept around the tales that we all know and love, and Josh Funk has done just that again taking the hilarity of It’s Not Jack and the Beanstalk to a whole new level! The addition of a second character to interact with the narrator made the humor double the fun. And don’t think that this is just a normal Hansel and Gretel story with a twist, it is a Gretel and Hansel story with a twist! I love that Josh Funk could take something we know and love and still surprise us–that shows talent and a book that is going to be loved for a long time!
Side note: I was lucky enough to receive two copies of this book, so I shared one with Trent’s classroom, and I have been told it is the book he picks up each day! Here is a picture of him reading it to a classmate by using visual cues.
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This book offers so many opportunities for students. To support writing, students might use this book to retell a fairy tale of their own or as a mentor text to add humor to their work. To support reading and speaking, this book would be wonderful to use for readers’ theater! And just for fun, teachers might turn this book into a scavenger hunt! Every page has a plethora of well-known characters, and they are fun to find!
Discussion Questions: What story does the narrator want to tell? How does it get interrupted?; There are two parallel sides to this story. Which did you believe? Do you think that the parents really lost Hansel and Gretel? Why or why not?; How do the author and illustrator add humor to the story?
Read This If You Loved: It’s Not Jack and the Beanstalk by Josh Funk; Dear Dragon by Josh Funk; Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast by Josh Funk; Whose Story is This, Anyway? by Mike Flaherty; Battle Bunny by Jon Scieszka and Mac Barnett; A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz
**Thank you go Blue Slip Media and Two Lions for providing copies for review and giveaway!**
HAPPY FIFTH BIRTHDAY, TRENT!
I cannot believe my boy is five and will be entering elementary school next year. He is everything anyone would want in a kid including kind, respectful, empathetic, and smart. And not to mention, a kid who loves books!
According to Goodreads, where I try to keep as accurate as possible statistics on what Trent reads with us, he read 146 books in this year taking his total to 577 books in his life time!
Today, I am going to share with you his current favorite reads and his reasons why he loves them. He chose these books for me to include and the reasons why are in his own words:
“They have fliporamas! They show us cool stuff. Petey lets everyone go in their underpants. Dog Man is funny!”
“I like how Nibbles chomps stuff. I like that he gets away.”
“I like how Pooh talks, and he finds a balloon. Eeyore is my favorite. I like how Eeyore talks and sits. Bei Bei (Trent’s stuffed Panda) sits like him, too.”
“It is funny. Bob’s tongue gets stuck on Pluto. Pluto is cold and has a lot of ice. It’s the smallest planet and is in our solar system, but his new name is dwarf planet. Beep is an alien.”
“Pete makes a robot who is his friend robot Pete. Robot Pete does whatever Pete says to do. And Pete loves bananas though he ate a rotten one, so his mom tries to give him every food that there is.”
“I like about Dragons Love Tacos that they eat so much tacos. If there is salsa in the tacos, they will spit fire all over the place. It makes me scared, but I like it because it is cool.”
“The kitten thinks the moon is a bowl of milk. The kitten is sad because he can’t find milk. But the book ends okay when he goes to his house. The kitten is cute.”
“I want to be an astronaut when I grow up and study space, so I like these two books because they help me learn about space.”
“I like how they build a new bridge and everyone helps. Everyone has a job in Tinyville Town.”
“Grandpa promised to take the grandchildren to the park, but he lost some things, and I like finding things for him.”
“He tries to find life on planet Mars. He found a flower, but he didn’t see the big cat person. I want to go to Mars.”
“I like how they go in a cave. They are dragons. I want to get the third book to see what it’s about. I think they’re going to find their mom and dad.”
“I like how they honk. I like how they count.”
“I like how he misses friends when he is on the moon, and I like how he puts his flag on the moon. And I like how he runs on the moon. I like penguins. And I like astronauts.”
“I like how Jo sees that her dad is sick, so she tries to help him. She thinks the ocean has monsters, but it doesn’t. It has beautiful things and some islands.”
“I like how Bruce goes BRUGH, and Bruce always says bad things to the other animals, but Bruce isn’t bad. I like Be Quiet because I think is funny and I think the other one is funny too because the dinosaur eats her classmates.”
“I like how we slide the things over to see the animals. I like that I can read it by myself.”
“I like how they do different things like how they have a lemonade stand and how they get their things stuck in the tree and use a ladder to get their stuff. Everyone tries to get Little Duck’s kite. But all of their things get stuck in the tree. Even the ladder got stuck in the tree, too. I think they are good stories.”
“I like how the Pigeon doesn’t do what he’s supposed to like take a bath. The Pigeon is grumpy which is funny.”
“I like how I know how to read them!”
Happy birthday and happy reading, Trent!
Duck and Hippo: The Secret Valentine
Author: Jonathan London; Illustrator: Andrew Joyner
Published: December 18, 2018 by Two Lions
GoodReads Summary: Join Duck, Hippo, and their friends as they uncover their secret valentines!
It’s Valentine’s Day, and something curious is going on. As the birds tweet their love […]
Duck and Hippo: The Secret Valentine
Author: Jonathan London; Illustrator: Andrew Joyner
Published: December 18, 2018 by Two Lions
GoodReads Summary: Join Duck, Hippo, and their friends as they uncover their secret valentines!
It’s Valentine’s Day, and something curious is going on. As the birds tweet their love songs, Hippo and his friends Elephant, Pig, and Turtle each receive mysterious, unsigned Valentine’s Day cards. Hippo wonders if his is from Duck; Elephant and Turtle think theirs are from Pig; and Pig dreams that hers is from Turtle. The cards tell the friends to come to the park at four o’clock to meet their valentines—so they’ll find out soon enough! As the clock ticks away, the friends wonder—and dream—about their valentines and make special preparations. But when they arrive…SURPRISE!
This Valentine’s Day might not go exactly the way they expected, but one thing is certain: being friends with Duck and Hippo is always a special treat!
Ricki’s Review: Valentine’s Day is coming up, and this book will surely drum up the excitement! I brought this book out during my night-time reading session with my kids, and my 5-year-old shrieked, “More Duck and Hippo! Yay!” Duck and Hippo are a beloved duo that are on their way to becoming a classic pair like Frog and Toad. Kids in the current generation recognize them and love them. Adults are starting to recognize them, too! I am just waiting for more Duck and Hippo stuffed animals to appear in stores! One thing I loved about this book is that it focused on friendship. Each of the animals is particularly excited about which friend sent the valentine. There is so much joy as they guess who the secret valentine might be and head toward the park. Readers who are experienced with the Duck and Hippo series can make great predictions while reading the book. Others will just be excited as they turn the pages! This would make a great read-aloud for classrooms on Valentine’s Day because the focus isn’t on commercial items but friendship and neighborly love.
Kellee’s Review: In this fourth installment of the Duck and Hippo series, the author continues to teach important lessons to the readers that they may not have thought about. Too often Valentine’s Day is focused on the commercial: How many cards did you get? Did s/he get you a gift? etc. etc. But really, the point of the holiday is to spend time with those you love. And like other stories with unexpected friendship, Duck and Hippo show that opposites attract and first impressions aren’t always correct. In addition to the story, the illustrations add a whole other layer to the story by taking the shared emotions that were written and showing them. Together, the story and the illustrations tell a story that kids will easily connect to and love.
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Valentine’s Day is often a day of parties in elementary schools. To move away from the commercial focus of the holiday, teachers might use this book to foster a secret valentine’s day party. This would be great fun!
There’s more fun with Duck and Hippo in the free downloadable activity sheets (including a learn-to-draw page!): https://www.andrewjoyner.com.
Discussion Questions: Who did you predict the secret valentine would be?; What do each of the animals think?; What were their reactions when they arrived at the park?; Is there someone in your life who might enjoy a secret valentine?
The fourth book in the Duck and Hippo series is a sweet way to celebrate Valentine’s Day! Check out the trailer!
Read This If You Loved: The other books in the Duck and Hippo series (like this one!); Elephant and Piggie series by Mo Willems; The Frog and Toad series by Arnold Lobel; Pug Meets Pig by Sue Lowell Gallion
**Thank you to Barbara at Blue Slip for providing copies for review!**
Waiting for Pumpsie
Author: Barry Wittenstein
Illustrator: London Ladd
Published February 21st, 2017 by Charlesbridge Publishing
Summary: In 1959 the Boston Red Sox was the last team in the Major Leagues to integrate. But when they call Elijah “Pumpsie” Green up from the minors, Bernard is overjoyed to see a black player on his beloved home team. And, when Pumpsie’s first home game is scheduled, Bernard and his family head to Fenway Park. Bernard is proud of Pumpsie and hopeful that this historic event is the start of great change in America.
This fictionalized account captures the true story of baseball player Pumpsie Green’s rise to the major leagues. The story is a snapshot of the Civil Rights Movement and a great discussion starter about the state of race relations in the United States today.
About the Author: Barry Wittenstein has tended bar, driven a taxi, worked at CBS Records and CBS News back in the day, spent a decade writing music and lyrics, toiled six years as a web editor and writer for Major League Baseball, and three years as a substitute elementary school teacher. He could be Walter Mitty’s brother.
Barry loves to write narrative nonfiction picture books. He is the author of Waiting for Pumpsie and The Boo-Boos That Changed the World. In 2019, he will publish two more nonfiction picture books—Sonny’s Bridge, about the legendary jazz saxophonist Sonny Rollins; and A Place to Land (with illustrations by Caldecott Medalist Jerry Pinkney) about how Martin Luther King Jr. wrote his “I Have a Dream” speech. He is currently working on a YA novel. He lives in New York City with his wife. To learn more, and to download free curriculum guides, visit his website: https://onedogwoof.
“A grand slam” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“Bernard’s conversational narration creates a warm bond with readers from the get-go, and although Wittenstein and Ladd never sugarcoat instances of racial prejudice, the story’s moments of triumph sound the loudest notes.” — Publisher’s Weekly
“This uplifting account of a family and the integration of Boston baseball will be inspiring to many youngsters.” — School Library Journal
“This picture book contributes to children’s understanding of America’s past, while telling a good story”— Booklist
Kellee’s Review: This story was one that is new to me, and as a baseball fan and interested in social justice history, I found it so fascinating! Like the author’s note suggests, the history of baseball integration has been skewed in its telling over time because it does seem to those ignorant in the history that Jackie Robinson started up, fought the racial prejudice, then everyone was integrated; however, Pumpsie’s story shows us that this false truth is far from the truth. I really love that the author took something he did not know about and wrote a book to share the story with an audience.
The author and illustrator told Pumpsie’s story from the point of view of a young Red Sox fan named Bernard and his anticipation for a Black baseball player on the team he loves and how one player can change the morale of fans.
Ricki’s Review: This is a wonderful book. My family is divided (half Yankees fans and half Red Sox fans), and yet, no one seemed to mind that this story featured Pumpsie, a Red Sox player. He isn’t one of the more famous, well-known Red Sox players, but he truly should be. This book gives careful insight into Pumpsie, his career, and his struggles, and readers will see layers of topics—even beyond baseball and equity. The illustrations and dialogue bring readers right to the stadium and field during the time period. My older son had a lot of questions as we read the book, and it felt good to navigate such a richly complex text with him. This is a must-have for libraries. It offers great themes to be discussed in the classroom setting, and students will be interested in this piece of our history. Also, it makes for a great read aloud. We were roaring right along with the stadium. 🙂
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: There are so many different ways that this story can be integrated into a classroom setting! First and foremost, it is a fantastic read aloud. The narrative will suck students in and will lead to some great discussion. Additionally, it could be used in equity discussions when looking at the history of the fight for equal rights. Lastly, I can definitely see this picture book being an asset in a baseball history book clubs/lit circles.
- Why was Pumpsie’s debut so important to Bernard?
- How does Pumpsie’s story change how baseball integration is traditionally told?
- How does Pumpsie’s story fit into a bigger story of Civil Rights in the United States?
- Other than baseball and equity, what other topics does this text touch on?
- Who did the prejudice man in the stands represent within the larger world?
Read This If You Love: I am Jackie Robinson by Brad Meltzer, Henry Aaron’s Dream by Matt Tavares, Baseball Is… by Louise Borden, Barbed Wire Baseball by Marissa Moss, Something to Prove by Robert Skead, Silent Star by Bill Wise
**Thank you to Blue Slip Media and Charlesbridge for providing copies for review and giveaway!**
Author: Kwame Alexander
Illustrator: Kadir Nelson
Published April 2, 2019 by Versify
Summary: The Newbery Award-winning author of The Crossover pens an ode to black American triumph and tribulation, with art from a two-time Caldecott Honoree.
Originally performed for ESPN’s The Undefeated, this poem is a love letter to black life in the United States. It highlights the unspeakable trauma of slavery, the faith and fire of the civil rights movement, and the grit, passion, and perseverance of some of the world’s greatest heroes. The text is also peppered with references to the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, and others, offering deeper insights into the accomplishments of the past, while bringing stark attention to the endurance and spirit of those surviving and thriving in the present. Robust back matter at the end provides valuable historical context and additional detail for those wishing to learn more.
Ricki’s Review and Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This is an incredibly powerful book. I loved seeing the poem (which was previously performed) turned into a picture book. The book touches upon many critical topics for youth to consider across time and place. It offers a strength that makes readers want to jump from their chairs to support the message of the text. This is a must-read. Teachers might use this book in classrooms by asking students to select a page that they find to be particularly inspiring. Then, they might research individuals who reflect the undefeated-ness that they see on the pages. This might devolve into research projects that explore the “faith and fire,” as quoted from the book summary, that students see across time, space, and place.
- How does this book make you feel?
- What do you perceive to be the author’s and illustrator’s purpose(s)?
- What similarities and differences do you see across the pages?
Read This If You Love: Out of Wonder by Kwame Alexander; We March by Shane W. Evans; Freedom Summer by Deborah Wiles; The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson; Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer by Carole Boston Weatherford
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