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If Picasso Painted a Snowman
Author: Amy Newbold
Illustrator: Greg Newbold
Published October 3rd, 2017 by Tilbury House Publishers

Summary: If someone asked you to paint a snowman, you would probably start with three white circles stacked one upon another. Then you would add black dots for eyes, an orange triangle for a nose, and a black dotted smile. But if Picasso painted a snowman…

From that simple premise flows this delightful, whimsical, educational picture book that shows how the artist’s imagination can summon magic from a prosaic subject. Greg Newbold’s chameleon-like artistry shows us Roy Lichtenstein’s snow hero saving the day, Georgia O’Keefe’s snowman blooming in the desert, Claude Monet’s snowmen among haystacks, Grant Wood’s American Gothic snowman, Jackson Pollock’s snowman in ten thousand splats, Salvador Dali’s snowmen dripping like melty cheese, and snowmen as they might have been rendered by J. M. W. Turner, Gustav Klimt, Paul Klee, Marc Chagall, Georges Seurat, Pablita Velarde, Piet Mondrian, Sonia Delaunay, Jacob Lawrence, and Vincent van Gogh. Our guide for this tour is a lively hamster who—also chameleon-like—sports a Dali mustache on one spread, a Van Gogh ear bandage on the next.

“What would your snowman look like?” the book asks, and then offers a page with a picture frame for a child to fill in. Backmatter thumbnail biographies of the artists complete this highly original tour of the creative imagination that will delight adults as well as children.

ReviewTrent and I are really big fans of this one! It has become a regular bedtime book. Amy & Greg Newbold did a fantastic job teaching about art and artists while at the same time adding an entertainment factor through an imaginative and narrative aspect. Now, my experience reading this book for the first time is very different than Trent’s and other readers’ experiences will be like because of prior knowledge. Since I already knew the artists, I could pick out the style elements that were included in the snowman artwork, loved many of the snowmen because of how much it did look like the artists’ work, and even found aspects funny. Trent, on the other hand, read the book from a different lens because he saw all the snowmen first then we talked about each artist and using the back matter and internet, he learned about each of the artists.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: It would be so interesting to use the book in both ways: either with giving background knowledge ahead of time or introducing the book then the artists. And the book does such a wonderful job promoting creative freedom and sharing that each artist has their own style and medium which would lead to some really great opportunities for students to explore what their artistic style would be.

Discussion Questions: 

  • [After studying an artist not in the book] How do you think ____ would paint/make/create a snowman?
  • What parts of each artist’s style did the Newbolds utilize when creating If Picasso Painted a Snowman?
  • Which snowman creation was your favorite? Why?
  • After reading the back matter, which artist would you like to learn more about?
  • Compare and contrast a “regular” snowman which each snowman in the book. Compare and contrast the different types of snowmen.

Author Interview: I was lucky enough to ask Amy & Greg interview questions. I chose to ask:

-How did you choose which artists to highlight in your book?
-How did you each prepare for writing the book?
-Any specific reason for the choice of a hamster?
-Other than art history, what do you hope readers get from the book?

Amy: I got the idea for If Picasso Painted a Snowman while visiting the Musee Picasso in Paris, France. Pablo Picasso’s work was so inventive, and I wondered what it would look like if he created a snowman. That was the beginning of the book. I knew right away certain artists that I wanted to include in the book, including Georges Seurat, Jackson Pollock, Piet Mondrian, and Salvador Dali. In the beginning, I wanted to include all my favorite artists, but as the project took shape, it became more important for me to include artists who made a significant contribution to art. Greg and I discussed each artist, as he had to envision how to paint a snowman in the style of that painter. He brought in artists like Paul Klee and Roy Lichtenstein. It was a wonderful experience to research each of these artists and we both gained a deeper appreciation for their work.

The actual writing of the book took place over many months. Some of the lines in the book came easily, while others took quite a bit of time to figure out. I read the text out loud multiple times and made changes if the words weren’t flowing.  Greg and I also participated in a workshop at a writing conference where we were able to get critiques on the book during the writing process. Testing out the manuscript in front of a group really helped. I didn’t write the biographies of each artist until we had signed our contract with Tilbury House to do the book. Once we had a contract, I got busy researching so I could write something that is hopefully informative and interesting about each of these amazing painters.

Greg: This project was so much fun that it often felt like playing rather than work. Before beginning a piece, I researched the artist’s style, the materials and techniques that they used and what motifs and design quirks made them unique. Each piece was a treat to work on and for the most part, I feel that I captured some of the essence of what each artist was known for. I learned many new processes but probably the most fun I had was imitating Jackson Pollock’s drip style “action paintings”. Some people look at Pollock’s work and assume that they could do it since all you have to do is splatter paint around. After more study I realized that Pollock’s work is far from random and unplanned. There is an interesting rhythm and process in the way he layered paint. I had a great afternoon in the back yard dancing around my canvas laid on the ground deciding where the next splash of paint would look the best and trying to put it there. My Pollock turned out pretty well and was also used as the endpapers of the book. I was so entertained by the process that I want to do it again.

I designed the hamster in honor of a family pet named Max. He is the visual tour guide through the book, and you can see evidence of him on nearly every page. His presence adds another dimension to the book as he does things like carry a ruler to get straight lines on the Mondrian piece. In another picture, he wears Picasso’s striped shirt, or Monet’s beret. The hamster is not in the text, but offers several fun references for readers in the know. Keep an eye out for him and his wardrobe changes throughout the book!

Amy & Greg: We both hope that this book encourages artists of all ages to have fun with art. It is simply an introduction, an invitation to try different techniques and styles, use unexpected colors, explore and distort shape and line. By looking at the variety of ways artists painted in history, we hope kids understand that they can find and express their own creative vision.

Flagged Passages: 

THIS! is how a snowman would look if Picasso painted one.

Read This If You Love: Art!; Biographies of artists such as The Noisy Paintbox by Barb RosenstockViva Frida by Yuyi Morales, Sandy’s Circus by Tanya Lee Stone, A Splash of Red by Jennifer Fisher Bryant; The Dot by Peter H. ReynoldsLinnea in Monet’s Garden by Christina Björk; Seen Art? by Jon Sciezska; The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew DaywaltPerfect Square by Michael Hall; My Pen by Christopher Myers, Paint Me a Picture by Emily Bannister, Mini Museum Series

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**Thank you to Nicole Banholzer for providing a copy for review and to Amy & Greg Newbold for their answers!**

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Nonfiction Wednesday

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and was started to help promote the reading of nonfiction texts. Most Wednesdays, we will be participating and will review a nonfiction text (though it may not always be a picture book).
Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy and see what other nonfiction books are shared this week!

Nina: Jazz Legend and Civil-Rights Activist Nina Simone
Author: Alice Brière-Haquet
Illustrator: Bruno Liance
Published December 5th, 2017 by Charlesbridge Publishing

Summary: “To be young, gifted, and black.”

A stunning picture-book biography of the High Priestess of Soul and one of the greatest voices of the 20th century.

With evocative black-and-white illustrations and moving prose, readers are introduced to Nina Simone, jazz-music legend and civil-rights activist. Shared as a lullaby to her daughter, a soulful song recounts Simone’s career, the trials she faced as an African American woman, and the stand she took during the Civil Rights Movement. This poignant picture book offers a melodic tale that is both a historic account of an iconic figure and an extraordinary look at how far we’ve come and how far we still need to go for social justice and equality. A timeless and timely message aptly appropriate for today’s social and political climates.

ReviewAlthough Nina is just a taste into who Nina Simone was as it only introduces her talent as a pianist and shares her beliefs in regards to civil rights. Set up as a lullaby that Nina is singing to her child, the story recounts her love of music and learning about the racism within our nation as well as a story where she stood up to inequality at one of her piano concerts. The lyrics and illustrations are dreamy and perfectly fit the purpose of the story: to introduce and intrigue the reader when it comes to Nina Simone.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: I do wish that there had been back matter that went more in depth into Simone’s contribution to jazz and civil rights; however, without them existing, this nonfiction picture book allows for a perfect change for inquiry. Now that students have been introduced to Nina, have stations/centers focusing on different parts of her life, jazz, or the Civil Rights Movement.

Discussion Questions: 

  • How does the illustration on the bus use the idea of the piano to symbolize the relationship between White and Black citizens in the early 1900s?
  • What techniques do the author and illustrator use to make the book seem lullaby-eque?
  • How did the imagery of the single black chair symbolize the racism that occurred at Simone’s concert?
  • How does the author tie in Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement?

Flagged Passages: 

“‘The white keys are whole notes and the black keys are flats, or half notes,’ my teacher explained.

I asked why.

‘Because that’s just the way it is.’

Yes, that’s the way it was. White was whole. Black was half. It was that way everywhere and for everyone.

I could have held it against people. Or worse, I couldn’t believed I was worth less than other people.

Black people were nothing but half notes on a huge ivory keyboard.

But no. I did not agree with this.

The notes had to mingle and dance together in the air so these lies would disappear.”

Read This If You Love: Andrea Davis Pinkney picture book biographies, Jazz, Learning about the Civil Rights Movement

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Nonfiction Wednesday

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and was started to help promote the reading of nonfiction texts. Most Wednesdays, we will be participating and will review a nonfiction text (though it may not always be a picture book).
Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy and see what other nonfiction books are shared this week!

Maya Lin: Thinking With Her Hands
Author: Susan Goldman Rubin
Published November 7th, 2017 by Chronicle

Summary: In the tradition of DELICIOUS, WIDENESS & WONDER, and EVERYBODY PAINTS!, this is Susan Goldman Rubin’s extensively researched and very accessible biography of civic activist Maya Lin, most famous for her design of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., is one of the most famous pieces of civic architecture in the world. But most people are not as familiar with the reserved college student who entered and won the design competition to build it. This accessible biography tells the story of Maya Lin, from her struggle to stick with her vision of the memorial to the wide variety of works she has created since then. Illustrated extensively with photos and drawings, the carefully researched text crosses multiple interests–American history, civic activism, art history, and cultural diversity–and offers a timely celebration of the memorial’s 35th anniversary, as well as contributing to the current, important discussion of the role of women and minorities in American society.

Activities include: 

Pre-Reading

  • Building Historical and Scientific Background Knowledge: To better understand much of Maya Lin’s extensive work, background knowledge of certain historical and scientific events are needed. Before reading Maya Lin’s biography, separate the class into five groups and assign each group one of these events:
    1. Vietnam War
    2. Civil Rights Movement
    3. Chinese-American Immigration
    4. Endangered and threatened animals
    5. Lewis and Clark’s expedition and the effect on the Indigenous People of Washington State

    Have each group create a timeline using an interactive timeline creator that showcases their event chronologically.  Within the timeline, the students should not only have important dates but they should incorporate visuals, the impact of each event on history/science, and any other supplemental information/media that will increase the knowledge of their event.

    Students then will present their timelines to their classmates to allow for all students to possess knowledge of all five historical and scientific events before beginning Maya Lin’s biography.

Post-Reading

  • Symbolism: Unlike traditional minimalists, Maya Lin uses symbolism in her work. Begin with working with students on symbolism within familiar stories they know. Show students What is Symbolism? at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Vwek28P9Gk then read the Story of William Tell (http://www.mainlesson.com/display.php?author=baldwin&book=fifty&story=tell) and discuss what the apple symbolizes. After this discussion tell students that symbolism in art is the same–symbolism is when a piece of art or an aspect of a piece of art represents something more than its literal meaning.Then, have students analyze her pieces of work for symbols within them. Students should then create a symbolism T-chart showing their found symbolism.Some examples:
    The ark shape of the Riggio-Lynch Chapel Symbolizes that the chapel is a safe place just as Noah’s Ark was.
    The water on the Civil Rights memorial Symbolizes the justice rolling down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream mentioned in “I Have a Dream” speech by Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Cumulative Writing Assignment: Legacy
    Maya Lin states, “You need to see me whole as an artist. What I’m doing is art, architecture, and memorials.” Have students write an informative essay explaining how Lin has fulfilled her legacy as an artist, architect, and memorial designer. Have students use evidence from the text, as well as other provided resources if you choose, to support their claim.Other resources:
    http://www.whatismissing.net/
    http://www.mayalin.com
    http://www.biography.com/people/maya-lin-37259
    http://www.theartstory.org/artist-lin-maya.htm

Discussion Questions include: 

  • From a young age, Maya Lin did not like the color red. Why does she not like the color red? What does red represent to her? The color red was included in the Museum of Chinese in America, however. Why was the color included in this project even though Maya Lin does not like it?
  • After completing the Vietnam War Memorial, Lin felt like she was boxed in as a “monument designer,” and refused many invitations to complete more memorials. Why do you think the Civil Rights Memorial was the work that she finally agreed to complete?
  • Maya Lin’s message of sustainability (avoiding the depletion of natural resources to maintain a balance within nature) reaches us through not only her What is Missing? project but through many of her other pieces of work. She states, “A lot of my work is not very glorious. If I succeed, you may never know I was here.” How did Maya Lin’s message of sustainability come through her works?
  • Susan Goldman Rubin’s chapter titles are very specific word choices. Looking at the titles (Clay, Granite, Water, Earth, Glass, Celadon, Dunes and Driftwood, Wood, and Memories), why do you believe the author choose these words to title each chapter?

Teaching Guide Created by Me (Kellee): 

You can also access the teaching guide through Chronicle’s website here.

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Nonfiction Wednesday

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and was started to help promote the reading of nonfiction texts. Most Wednesdays, we will be participating and will review a nonfiction text (though it may not always be a picture book).
Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy and see what other nonfiction books are shared this week!

Living Things and Nonliving Things: A Compare and Contrast Books
Author: Kevin Kurtz
Published September 10th, 2017 by Arbordale Publishing

Summary: Using a wide variety of stunning photographs, author Kevin Kurtz poses thought-provoking questions to help readers determine if things are living or nonliving. For example, if most (but not all) living things can move, can any nonliving things move? As part of the Compare and Contrast series, this is a unique look at determining whether something is living or nonliving.

Author Information: Award-winning author Kevin Kurtz holds degrees in English literature and elementary education and started his career by working at a marine biology lab. Since then, he has combined all of these experiences by working as an environmental educator and curriculum writer for organizations such as the South Carolina Aquarium, the Science Factory Children’s Museum, and the Center for Birds of Prey. Kevin has authored A Day in the DeepA Day on the Mountain, and A Day in the Salt Marsh for Arbordale. Kevin also wrote Uncovering Earth’s Secrets after spending eight weeks as the Educator at Sea aboard the marine geology research vessel JOIDES Resolution. Visit Kevin’s website for more information.

ReviewLiving Things and Nonliving Things is a great introduction to what makes something living. Kevin Kurtz uses bright photographs to illustrate his different points that will start great scientific conversations about different things in our world and what makes them living or nonliving. This text is going to be wonderful in classrooms within early STEAM lessons.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Kurtz includes backmatter with permission to photocopy for class use which includes a glossary, discussion questions, an activity, and a “Living or Nonliving Checklist” all which are great resources for classrooms.

Arbordale Publishing also includes a 30-page cross curricular teaching activity guide available for the book:

Additionally, there is an interactive ebook available that reads aloud in English or Spanish and includes word highlighting and interaction with the animals.

Discussion Questions: 

  • What characteristics do living things have?
  • What are the differences between a living and nonliving thing?
  • What are some examples of nonliving things that include characteristics that living things have?

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Love: Science, Animals

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**Thank you to Heather at Arbordale Publishing for providing a copy for consideration!**

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nfpb2017

Nonfiction Wednesday

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and was started to help promote the reading of nonfiction texts. Most Wednesdays, we will be participating and will review a nonfiction text (though it may not always be a picture book).
Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy and see what other nonfiction books are shared this week!

National Geographic Kids: What Would Happen? 
Author: Crispin Boyer
Published July 11th, 2017 by National Geographic Society

Summary: Ever wondered what would happen if some cool or crazy things were possible? Like what would happen if: you got sucked into a black hole; dinosaurs still existed; humans could fly; you could communicate with dolphins; or you could dig a hole through to the center of the Earth?

Get ready to explore all kinds of scenarios that would or could happen if the world was just a slightly different place. Each scenario is examined with real scientific, historical, and cultural facts in mind. This out-of-the-box book encourages readers to cultivate a better understanding of the world as it is – and as it could be!

ReviewA favorite book of mine and my husband’s that we read years ago was Why do Men have Nipples?, and we really loved getting answers to questions that you may not even know to ask yet are really intriguing. What Would Happenis the middle grade equivalent! So many interesting questions are answered! Do you want to know about global warming? Honeybees? Time machines? You will find answers in this book. Each question’s answer is set up to give the reader background knowledge, potential outcomes, extenuating circumstances, etc. to fill in any blanks and curiosities there may be. And as with all National Geographic books, the photographs are superb!

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: I love that so many of the National Geographic books touch on such a variety of topics, but also in the books that are like What Would Happen?, the information only touches the surface. This book would be a perfect jump start to passion or inquiry projects. What do students want to learn more about? They can start by reading the spread in What Would Happen? then research more to prepare a presentation about everything they learn.

The book also definitely has a place in libraries: school, classroom, and home. It is a wonderful book filled with questions that kids will love to learn the answers to!

Discussion Questions: Every page in this book has a discussion question!

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Love: Getting answers to burning questions

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**Thank you to Karen from Media Masters Publicity for providing a copy for review!**

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nfpb2017

Nonfiction Wednesday

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and was started to help promote the reading of nonfiction texts. Most Wednesdays, we will be participating and will review a nonfiction text (though it may not always be a picture book).
Be sure to visit Kid Lit Frenzy and see what other nonfiction books are shared this week!

Zoo Scientists to the Rescue
Author: Patricia Newman
Photographer: Annie Crawley
Published October 1st, 2017 by Millbrook Press

Summary: Zoos take care of animals and welcome visitors of all ages, but that’s not all zoos do. Author Patricia Newman and photographer Annie Crawley bring readers behind the scenes at three zoos to meet scientists working to save endangered animals.

Meredith Bastian’s experiences studying wild orangutans help educate both zoo visitors and the zoo workers who care for captive orangutans. Jeff Baughman breeds black-footed ferrets and reintroduces them into the wild. And Rachel Santymire examines poop from black rhinoceroses at the zoo and in their natural habitat to benefit all black rhinos. Find out how zoo scientists are helping us learn more about these remarkable, at-risk species before it’s too late!

Visit the authors at http://www.patriciamnewman.com and https://www.anniecrawley.com/

ReviewPatricia Newman’s work always blows me away and Annie Crawley’s photos in Plastics, Ahoy! were breathtaking, so I was so happy to see that they had a new book coming out. In Zoo Scientists, a text is just as brilliantly done as Newman’s other works, she once again focuses on a topic that needs a spotlight. This time, we see how zoos are working towards saving endangered animals. Zoos are such important places when they are done correctly, so I loved this focus on three specific stories about how zoos are helping rhinos, orangutans, and black-footed ferrets. Each section tells us about a scientist at a different zoo, how they came to be where they are today, and how they help the species they work with. I loved the inclusion of each scientist’s story paying special attention to how they each became an expert. This makes Zoo Scientists perfect for looking at not only looking at endangered animals and zoos but how to reach your potential in a career making this book a must-get for classrooms that study any of these things.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Teaching guides for all of Patricia’s books including the Zoo Scientist one coming soon can be found at http://www.patriciamnewman.com/teacher-guides/.

Rhino bookmarks!: http://www.patriciamnewman.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Bookmark.pdf

Pinterest board with activities and articles to supplement the reading of Zoo Scientists to the Rescuehttps://www.pinterest.com/newmanbooks/zoo-scientists-to-the-rescue/

Consider an Author for Earth Day visit! Consider an Authors for Earth Day visit in conjunction with Zoo Scientists to the Rescue. Students research a list of five conservation nominees selected by Patricia Newman and then vote for their favorite. Newman writes a check to the winning organization. The mission? To empower young readers to shape the world around them!

Participate in the 30 Day #ProtectOurWorld Challenge! Here is the Orangutan example. Visit http://www.patriciamnewman.com/books/zoo-scientists-rescue/ to see the rhino and black-footed ferret posters.

Discussion Questions: Use any or all of these discussion questions to extend the learning with Zoo Scientists to the Rescue:

  • What steps did each scientist take to become an expert in their field?
  • Why are orangutans’ habitat being destroyed?
  • Why is the poaching of rhinos for their horns such a devastating action?
  • How did the expansion of our nation effect the black-footed ferret?
  • How did humans play a role in each of these animals’ endangered status?
  • What can you do to help these animals?
  • Visit some of the resources about other conservation stories in the end of the book and share what you learn.
  • What words did you learn from the book? (Check out the glossary!)

Flagged Passages: 

“A sign outside the orangutan enclosure at the National Zoo explains that the apes red coloring mimics shadows in the forest’s canopy. As little as 30 feet above the forest floor, orangutans essentially disappear, which is surprising given their bulk. Fully grown wild wild male orangutans can weigh up to 220 pounds and wild females can weight up to 120 pounds. Zoo orangutans tend to be between 50 to 100 pounds heavier because of their nutritious diet.”

“About 15 years ago, black-footed ferrets roamed the Great Plains from Canada to Mexico. The Lakota call them pispiza itopta sapa (black-faced prairie dog) and believe they are sacred. But in the late 1800s, settlers moving westward and travelers from across the Pacific Ocean unknowingly put the ferrets in danger.”

“Unfortunately, rhinos are no match for armed poachers, hunters who kill wild animals illegally for profit. Approximately 5,050 black rhinos remain in the world due to poaching and habitat loss. They are labeled critically endangered–one step from extinct in the wild, and only two steps from fully extinct. Lincoln Park Zoo hopes to play a role in saving them.”

Book Trailer: 

Read This If You Love: Zoos, Animals, Learning about scientists, Science, Conservation efforts, Earth Day

Recommended For: 

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**Thank you to Patricia Newman for asking me to be part of the blog tour!**

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Listen: How Pete Seeger Got America Singing
Author: Leda Schubert
Illustrator: Raúl Colón
Published June 13th, 2017 by Roaring Brook Press

Summary: 

Listen.
There was nobody like Pete Seeger.
Wherever he went, he got people singing.
With his head thrown back
and his Adam s apple bouncing,
picking his long-necked banjo
or strumming his twelve-string guitar,
Pete sang old songs,
new songs,
new words to old songs,
and songs he made up.

In this tribute to legendary musician and activist Pete Seeger, author Leda Schubert highlights major musical events in Mr. Seeger’s life as well important moments of his fight against social injustice. From singing sold-out concerts to courageously standing against the McCarthy-era finger-pointing, Pete Seeger’s life is celebrated in this book.

Praise for Listen

★“Schubert and Colón ably demonstrate one of their book’s final assertions: ‘there really was nobody like Pete Seeger.’”—Kirkus Reviews (starred)

“A rousing tribute to a singular musician and activist who ‘walked the talk.’” —Publishers Weekly

“This inspiring picture book biography about one of America’s greatest folk heroes is sure to get a new generation of children singing.” —School Library Journal

“An inspiring and heartfelt tribute to, as Schubert calls him, a ‘true American hero.’” —Horn Book

About the Creators: 

Leda Schubert holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts in the Writing for Children and Young Adults and was a core faculty member until 2012. She is the author of many award-winning titles, including The Princess of Borscht, Ballet of the Elephants, and Monsieur Marceau, winner of the Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction. Leda lives in Plainfield, Vermont, with her husband and two dogs. To learn more, and to download a curriculum guide, visit ledaschubert.com.

Raúl Colón has illustrated several highly acclaimed picture books, including Draw!; the New York Times-bestselling Angela and the Baby Jesus by Frank McCourt; Susanna Reich’s José! Born to Dance; and Jill Biden’s Don’t Forget, God Bless Our Troops. Mr. Colón lived in Puerto Rico as a young boy and now resides in New City, New York, with his family.

Kellee’s Review: Schubert’s narrative of Seeger’s life is so lyrical and poetic–it is a song accompanied by beautifully textured, light illustrations that bring the biography to life. I can tell that Schubert is a fan of Seeger because she told his story with gentleness and love honoring a man that is truly an American hero.

The more I read about Pete Seeger, the more I am intrigued. I have heard about Pete Seeger my whole life, but it wasn’t until I read Stand Up and Sing by Susanna Reich that I truly learned about HIM outside of just knowing his music. I truly wish that Pete Seeger was still around to help us in our current time. His story has shown me that one person can make a difference, that good can win and be honored, and that music can bring people together. I loved learning even more about Seeger through Schubert’s picture book.

Ricki’s Review: Like Kellee, I didn’t know a lot about Pete Seeger until I read this book. I love reading texts that teach me more about a person. I didn’t realize that he traveled with Woody Guthrie! Too cool! Pete Seeger was a social activist, and his songs urge us to take action. This book will encourage readers to learn more about the singers that they listen to.

The author and illustrator bring great life to this book. It is very clear that they were inspired by his music, and the book truly comes alive. This is a book that teaches kids about an important man in our history and the power of music. It also reveals a lot of information about American History. I highly recommend this book to parents and teachers.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation & Discussion Questions: A fabulous curriculum guide can be found here created by Leigh Courtney, Ph.D. and includes discussion questions and activities.

Example discussion questions:

  • Pete Seeger said, “Participation. That’s what’s gonna save the human race.” What do you think that means?
  • Pete Seeger found himself in trouble with the government at one point in his life. Which group questioned him? Why were they interested in him?
  • Encourage students to study the illustrations in Listen paying particular attention to the drawings of people in the story. Discuss what the people’s actions and expressions tell you about Pete Seeger’s impact on those who listened to his music.
  • Many view Pete Seeger as an American hero. Discuss why people might regard Seeger as an important figure in American history. Read aloud President Obama’s statement about Pete Seeger, made upon the musician’s death, found in the final timeline entry at the back of the book.

Some examples of activities include cause and effect, research, vocabulary, and some fun music activities.

Resources: Leda Schubert provides some great links to recordings and videos of Pete Seeger here.

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Love: Stand Up and Sing! by Suanna ReichWhen Bob Met Woody by Gary Golio, Jimi: Sounds Like a Rainbow by Gary Golio

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**Thank you to Barbara at Blue Slip Media for providing the book for review!**

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