Sloth Wasn’t Sleepy
Author: Kate Messner
Illustrator: Valentina Toro
Published: January 12, 2021 by Sounds True
Goodreads Summary: For any child having trouble getting to sleep, the most lovable animal in the rain forest is here to help.
One night at bedtime, Sloth wasn’t sleepy.
“What if I worry when I try to fall asleep?” Sloth said.
“Ah … worries,” Mama said. “We will have to let them go.”
A tough day, a bad dream, a scary noise … these are just a few of the things that can keep kids wide awake and frightened after dark. But Mama Sloth knows the secrets for calming worried minds and getting to sleep—and as she shares them with her daughter, young readers will learn valuable relaxation skills that last a lifetime.
Sloth Wasn’t Sleepy does more than provide a sweet bedtime story—kids will join Sloth to learn mindfulness practices such as “shrinking down” fears in their mind and calming their body through breath and simple visualizations. Kate Messner’s beautiful book helps parents and kids relax into dreamland with a sense of peace, safety, and belonging.
Ricki’s Review: This book is simply magical. Since moving to Colorado, I have understood the value of mindfulness. My kids do meditation at night, and it has really helped their sleep. This book is going to be so helpful to facilitate the process. The charming illustrations drew my attention immediately, and my kids were giggling as we read the book. The words feel carefully and intentionally placed, and they soothed me, as the reader, too! I plan to gift this book to my younger sons’ teachers to use before naptime.
Kellee’s Review: My son is definitely afflicted with a large imagination, specifically when it comes to bedtimes and fears. Reading about Sloth’s worries and her mom’s advice on how to overcome this anxiety is something I will definitely be bringing up whenever these fears erupt at bedtime. I think many kids will find solace in these routines that Mama Sloth set up for Sloth in the story–between the relaxing onomatopoeias, the deep breathing, and the visualization, the story definitely brings a calm over the reader. And to add to this feeling is the adorable and cool-colored illustrations that just tie it all together.
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Implicit in this book is a description of anxiety. A common manifestation of anxiety comes with nighttime worrying. I’d love to use this book in literature circles centered around mental health, or in a way that allows children to think about the ways in which they negotiate feelings of worry and anxiety.
- What interrupts Sloth’s desire to rest?
- How does Sloth work to go to sleep?
- How can you adjust your own habits to improve your sleep?
- What worries do you have? Shrink them, lay it on a leaf, and set it free.
- When else could you use a breathing technique like the one Mama Sloth taught Sloth?
We Flagged: “‘Sometimes,” Mama said, “I like to pretend I’m a tree. Drinking up breath from my roots to my crown, from my toes to the top of my head. Would you like to try that, too?'”
You can also check out:
- The Sloth Wasn’t Sleepy PDF Sample on the book’s Sounds True page.
- A virtual story time with Kate Messner at @BelmontBooks on Instagram (January 12th): https://www.instagram.com/belmontbooks
Read This If You Loved: Sloth Wasn’t Sleepy by Frann Preston-Gannon; Sparky by Jenny Offill, “Slowly, Slowly, Slowly” Said the Sloth by Eric Carle, Dinosaur Farm by Frann Preston Gannon
**Thank you to Samantha at Sounds True for providing copies for review!**
Eyes that Kiss in the Corners
Author: Joanna Ho
Illustrator: Dung Ho
Published: January 5, 2021 by HarperCollins
Summary: This lyrical and stunning picture book tells a story about learning to love and celebrate your Asian-shaped eyes, in the of spirit of Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry
A young Asian girl notices that her eyes look different from her peers’. They have big, round eyes and long lashes. She realizes that her eyes are like her mother’s, her grandmother’s, and her little sister’s. They have eyes that kiss in the corners and glow like warm tea, crinkle into crescent moons, and are filled with stories of the past and hope for the future.
Drawing from the strength of these powerful women in her life, she recognizes her own beauty and discovers a path to self love and empowerment.
This powerful, poetic picture book will resonate with readers of all ages and is a celebration of diversity.
Ricki’s Review: This book is beautiful and poetic. You could give it to any reader of any age, and they would be captivated by how beautifully it is conceived, constructed and delivered. The lyrical lilt of the words as it is read aloud are captivating. I found myself pausing at the end of reading each page to take in the beauty of the author’s language. Ahh, and the illustrations! The cover is just a teaser for the stunning pictures within this book. I am really excited to gift this book to friends and family. It exemplifies the beauty and power of pictures books. I plan to read it aloud to my YAL class next semester. This book just hit the shelves, and I expect it to be very popular.
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Teachers can use this book to offer students examples of figurative language. Often, figurative language can feel forced, but here, it flows magically with the storyline. I found that reading this book inspired me to want to write!
“Mama’s eyes that kiss in the corners and glow like warm tea
crinkle into crescent moons…”
- How does the author use figurative language effectively?
- What do you believe to be the author’s and illustrator’s message? How do they convey this message?
- Who does the main character draw strength from? Who do you draw strength from?
Image from: https://www.joannahowrites.com/eyes-that-kiss
Read This If You Love: Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry; Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story by Kevin Noble Maillard; A Big Mooncake for Little Star by Grace Lin
**Thank you, Keely, from SparkPoint Studio for sending a copy for review!**
Scooper and Dumper
Author and Illustrator: Lindsay Ward
Published: January 1, 2021 by Two Lions
Goodreads Summary: Introducing two new vehicles who work together no matter what!
The best of friends, Scooper the front loader and Dumper the snowplow take care of their town in all kinds of weather. One day a snowstorm hits, and the big city needs their help to clear the roads. Each of them must be brave in their own way to get the job done.
This wintry adventure spotlights the ideas of individual strengths, teamwork, and friendship in a vehicle buddy story that boys and girls alike will love.
About the Author: Lindsay Ward is the creator of the Dexter T. Rexter series, as well as Rosie: Stronger than Steel, This Book Is Gray, Brobarians, Rosco vs. the Baby, and The Importance of Being 3. Her book Please Bring Balloons was also made into a play. Lindsay lives with her family in Peninsula, Ohio, where vehicles such as Scooper and Dumper take care of the roads all year-round. Learn more about her online at www.lindsaymward.com.
Ricki’s Review: I loved this fresh take on vehicles. This is a story that teaches about the power of working together to get a job done. Parents and teachers can easily transfer it to lessons of togetherness and contribution. The winter scenes are beautifully illustrated, and the book flows easily to make for a fun read-aloud. Each page uses a unique ABCB rhyme pattern, which makes every page finish with a satisfying lilt. The rhyme feels natural and works well with the story.
My four-year-old is obsessed with vehicles, and this book inspired him to try reading it aloud. He absolutely loved the story. Here’s a brief clip of him reading the first page aloud:
I recommend this book to parents and teachers who seek to teach wonderful lessons with a topic that kids love!
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: I would love to use this book as a model for kids to write about a time that they worked together toward a common goal. Students might draw a picture and write sentences below the picture to describe the moment or event. Then the pages could be posted on a bulletin board, working together in a quilt fashion.
- How do Scooper and Dumper work together? What is their goal?
- What steps are required to clear snow?
- What is one time you’ve worked with one or more people toward a common goal?
- Why does working together matter?
Read This If You Loved: Dump Truck Duck by Meghan E. Bryant; Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker, Demolition by Sally Sutton, Little Blue Truck by Alice Shertle, Where Do Diggers Sleep at Night? by Brianna Caplan Sayres
**Thank you to Barbara from Blue Slip Media for providing a copy for review!**
Sofia is an 9-year-old brilliant reader who aspires to be a book reviewer. On select Saturdays, Sofia shares her favorite books with kids! She is one of the most well-read elementary schoolers that we know, so she is highly qualified for this role!
If you are a dragon lover like my friend who recommended this book to me or love a kindhearted tale this would be your book: Kenny and the Dragon by Tony DiTerlizzi! This book is recommended for ages 8-12.
Kenny is a little rabbit who always has his head stuck in a book. One day, Kenny’s father rushes into the kitchen all out of breath. He tells his family to move out straight away but the Mom sits him down for dinner and then tells him to explain. The father says that a Dragon lives on the hill next to their farm and Kenny, the bookworm, obviously wants to see the dragon. The mom protests but the father says he can go but he has to be careful. Kenny quickly goes upstairs and covers himself in pots and pans like a knight and takes a benastary (a book of beasts) with him. Once Kenny gets up on the hill and sees the dragon he gets very scared. Once Kenny meets the dragon he becomes best friends with him. Kenny’s parents think that they should meet the dragon, whose name is Grahame, so they go over to Grahame’s house and have a cup of tea. Later Kenny goes to the village to meet his friend George who lends him books. Kenny discovers that George is assigned to kill Grahame! Will Kenny be able to explain to George that this monstrous but kind beast is his friend before it is too late?
I love this book so much because of its kindness and how it proves the saying “don’t judge a book by its cover”. It warms my heart when I see how the two companions work together to stop Grahame (the dragon) from getting hurt. I also love this book because of the cute pencil drawings and the great words that express the story. For example, this is how the book starts: ”Many years ago . . . Hold on, I know what you are thinking. You’re thinking a book about a dragon should start with “Once upon a time.” But this one doesn’t because frankly, I don’t really know what “Once upon a time” means.” Ha ha ha by now you must be laughing! Now you can see how the whole book is told in an exciting way. I hope this book captures your heart and your imagination. Either way HAVE FUN!!!
- If you were Kenny would you go up to a mountain that your father tells you has a dragon in it?
- When Kenny decides to help his friend Grahame do you think that was the right thing to do? Why?
- Which character is like you the most? What do you have in common?
- Which of Kenny’s actions surprised you and why did they surprise you?
If this book got the action in you going or you just liked it then be sure to check out The Spiderwick Chronicles by Tony DiTerlizzi. I have not read it yet but have watched the movie twice and can’t wait to get my hands on that book!
**We feel so lucky to have Sofia.**
Sometimes a Wall…
Author: Dianne White; Illustrator: Barroux
Published: October 15, 2020 by OwlKids
Summary: An afternoon in the playground introduces different kinds of walls: a brick wall to draw on with chalk, a water wall, and a climbing wall. What follows is a playful yet profound exploration of the many ways walls can divide us or bring us together. When one child is excluded from a game, another builds a castle to leave him out. When the builder declares the castle MINE, other kids feel alienated―but the builder becomes lonely, too, when the others have fun without him. The book ends with the optimism of a new start: friendship, forgiveness, and imagination give the wall new meaning.
Told with short, simple lines of playful, rhyming text and loose line illustrations by internationally known artist Barroux, this book sparks questions with empathy, insight, and charm. It’s a timely tool for inquiry-based and social-emotional learning, sharing the important message that walls can unite or divide, depending on the choices we make.
“Rhyme, rhythm, and simple art—all including references to walls—show children expressing different emotions and behaviors… Mending walls for the nursery crowd.” –Kirkus Reviews
Review: My own children have been asking about walls. They hear about them in school (in preschool and first grade), and they come home with a lot of questions. This book offers such great fodder for conversations about walls. The wall in this book evolves, and it is up to the reader to interpret many aspects about the wall and its purpose. I love how this opens discussions for what walls might represent and how they might differ in various conceptions. For instance, the wall in this book might be described as a border wall or it might be describe attached to a metaphorical or ideological wall. This is a book that will make readers of all ages think. I read the book three times in a row (which is not often my approach) because I kept thinking about new applications of the text. This would make a phenomenal classroom text and would be great for critical thinking and discussions. I recommend it highly.
Teacher’s Tool For Navigation: I’d love to use this book to teach the concept of a metaphor. For me, the wall in this text can be used as a metaphor to talk about a lot of concepts (concrete and abstract).
The “Why” Behind the Book:
A Lesson In 3 Movements:
• Intro to the Unit (PLEASE READ FIRST!)
• 1st Movement: TOGETHER (I Walk with Vanessa by Kerascoët)
• 2nd Movement: APART (Draw the Line by Kathryn Otoshi)
• 3rd Movement: REGRET. NEW START? (Sometimes a Wall … by Dianne White, illustrated by Barroux)
Coloring Pages For Younger Students:
- What might the wall represent?
- How does the wall evolve in the text?
- What kinds of walls do you have in your life? Do they serve good or bad purposes (or both)?
Read This If You Loved: I Walk with Vanessa by Kerascoët, Draw the Line by Kathryn Otoshi, The Wall in the Middle of the Book by Jon Agee
Sofia is an 8-year-old brilliant reader who aspires to be a book reviewer. On select Saturdays, Sofia will share her favorite books with kids! She is one of the most well-read elementary schoolers that we know, so she is highly qualified for this role!
If you are looking for two books about kindness and bravery then these books would be those books. Drumroll please… The One and Only Ivan and the sequel The One and Only Bob by Kathrine Applegate!!! These books are totally recommended for read aloud! If you want any of these books for read aloud I would say they are appropriate for second grade and above. These books are recommended for ages 8-12 if you read them yourself.
The One and Only Ivan
Ivan is a big and kind gorilla. He lives at a mall owned by a person called Mack. Mack makes shows to attract more people to his mall and Ivan and some of his friends are in it. Ivan makes some friends at the mall like an old circus elephant named Stella, Julia who is Mack’s daughter and later on a young elephant named Ruby who was taken away from her family when she was very young. They are trapped in big cages made of glass so the people can see the animals when they walk past the cages. Mack is very harsh when the animals don’t follow his directions and sometimes he even takes out a whip! Will Ivan and his friends be able to escape Mack’s mall without being harmed?
The One and Only Bob
Bob is a dog. He got taken away from his mom when he was little. He got dropped off in the road and became a street dog searching through garbage cans for as much food as he could find. When Bob meets Ivan in the first book they become best buddies and they also become friends with Ruby, the elephant that lives at the mall with Ivan. As you will know if you have read The One and Only Ivan Bob eventually goes to stay with Julia, Mack’s daughter. Bob visits his friends every day. But one time there is a big storm and Julia loses Bob in the middle of a monstrous flood! Will he make it out alive?
I love both of these books because they really make me feel like I am actually there and witnessing the event, like all good books do. I also love these books because they are a bit silly because the stories are told from an animal’s point of view. The animals say a lot of weird things about us because they don’t really understand our ways. For example, the book says “I have learned to understand human words over the years, but understanding human speech is not the same as understanding humans. Humans speak too much. They chatter like chimps, crowding the world with their noise even when they have nothing to say.” I am sure any reader would have fun with this so ENJOY!!!
If you loved these books then you might want to read Crenshaw By Katharine Applegate. Crenshaw is a cat. I have not read it yet but it sounds very interesting!
**Thank you, Sofia, for your continued brilliance. You inspire us!**
Respect by Otis Redding, Illustrated by Rachel Moss
These Books Are Made for Walkin’ by Lee Hazelwood, Illustrated by Rachel Moss
Move the Crowd by Eric Barrier and William Griffin, Illustrated by Kirk Parrish
We Got the Beat by Charlotte Caffey, Illustrated by Kaitlyn Shea O’Connor
All Published October 6th, 2020 by Akashic Books
Respect Summary: Respect is a children’s picture book based on lyrics written and originally recorded by Otis Redding in 1965. Aretha Franklin’s iconic rendition of the song later peaked at #1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 in 1967. Redding’s lyrics continue to resonate with listeners today.
With lyrics by Otis Redding and illustrations by Rachel Moss, this irresistible book shows a young girl, her brother, and her parents conjuring as many positive futures for each other as they can dream. Packed with playful vignettes as they imagine a life full of possibility, Respect provides families an opportunity to explore themes of mutual respect—while revisiting one of the greatest songs ever written.
These Boots Are Made for Walkin’ Summary: These Boots Are Made for Walkin’ is an adorable story of friendship and family set against the backdrop of Lee Hazlewood’s iconic song. While there have been numerous recordings over the past several decades, “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’” was originally recorded by Nancy Sinatra and released in early 1966 to instant success. A #1 Billboard hit in the US, UK, Canada, and Australia that was nominated for three GRAMMYs, Hazlewood’s song continues to be embraced to this day.
With lyrics by Lee Hazlewood and illustrations by Rachel Moss, this captivating picture book tells the story of a boy and his extremely attached and very jealous cat who must adapt to the introduction of a new family member—a puppy. The funny story line and delightful images are sure to have the entire family curled up and laughing together, pets included!
Move the Crowd Summary: Innovative illustrator Kirk Parrish brings the iconic song “Move the Crowd” to life for the first time as a children’s picture book. The lyrics to Eric B. and Rakim’s hit song provide the inspiration for this instant classic.
Follow along as Parrish pairs the lyrics with colorful illustrations about a boy being absorbed into his stereo and dropped into a colorless world where the music is dull and the people uninspired. The ensuing transformation he brings to the crowd with his music is one that the whole family can enjoy together.
We Got the Beat Summary: We Got the Beat is a children’s picture book based on the hit song by the 1980s new wave group the Go-Go’s. Consisting of five members, the all-female band rocked the nation with their charisma and musical genius. Their hit song “We Got the Beat” spent three weeks at #2 on the Billboard 100 and became their signature song. Says the New York Times: the Go-Go’s “taught a new generation the power of the girl gang.”
With lyrics by Go-Go’s member Charlotte Caffey and illustrations by Kaitlyn Shea O’Connor, this picture book tells the story of what it is like to live life dancing to the beat, while enjoying friends, nature, and the fun that surrounds you. We Got the Beat will make both parents and children get their groove on and show off their best dance moves.
Review and Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: These four additions to this series are just as good as the original four; I hope the company keeps creating these as they are a great addition to picture books! Just like the first four, Trent is addicted to listening to these songs and following along in the picture book. I love hearing him in the other room put on the song knowing that he is falling in love with the music, the lyrics, and the book all at once!
There are so many different ways to use these picture books in the classroom. In my post about the first four in the series, I shared the idea to break students up into groups and listen to the songs that have LyricPop books then create their own picture book followed by a comparison/contrast with the LyricPop books. Also, I shared the idea to have students read the lyrics first without listening to the song and create a book. Then, after listening to the song, ask how they would change their book.
I also think that lyrics are a wonderful way to teach poetry which gives a great reason to include LyricPop books in secondary classrooms as well.
- Would you have interpreted the lyrics the same way?
- What interpretation of the lyrics surprised you?
- If you read the book first then listened to the song, did the type of song it was surprise you?
- What is the main theme of the song?
- What poetic elements can you find in the lyrics of the song?
Read This If You Love: Music
**Thank you to Akashic Books for providing copies of these books for review!**
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