Author: Chris Owen
Illustrator: Chris Nixon
Published 2017 by Kane Miller Books
Summary: Here’s something to remember: when visiting the zoo, whatever you do, DON’T WAKE THE PANDA!
Join in the fantastic fun of Chris Owen and Chris Nixon’s Pandamonia, as one could-be-grumpy-if-woken-up sleeping panda sets off a frenzy of wild partying.
There’s grunting and growling and prancing and prowling and … so much more in this rollicking, rhyming text. It is so filled with energetic art and action and noise and alliteration that it just begs to be read aloud.
There is a playfulness, a rhythm and an energy to both the text and the illustrations, a cumulative growing and building of words and pictures, plus a whole bunch of animals you might never have seen in a picture book before. And the hilarity will have listeners and readers on their feet!
This is one for story time, or anytime!
Review: This picture book quickly became a regular in our reading because my son is just a bit obsessed with animals and there is such a wide variety introduced and shared in this title. Sometimes we read all the way through and just have fun with it while other times we look up the animals and find them in the pictures and find videos of the sounds they make. A different experience each time. And with the party-filled pages and colorful illustrations, every experience is fun.
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This book will be such a fun read aloud! The illustrations are really colorful, the text is alliterative with a ton of onomatopoeias, and there’s lots of fun to be had! In addition to alliteration and sound words, it can also be a way to talk about animals or zoos.
- How did the author use the word pandemonium and panda as a premise to his book?
- What animals did the author include that you didn’t know?
- What type of medium do you think the illustrator used to make the illustration?
- How did the author use onomatopoeias and alliteration in the story?
- What do you think will happen if the panda gets woken up?!?!
Read This If You Love: Du Iz Tak? by Carson Ellie, Nothing Rhymes with Orange by Adam Rex, The Curious Case of the Missing Mammoth by Ellie Hattie, Hello Hippo! Goodbye Bird! by Kristyn Crow, Can Aardvark Bark? by Melissa Stewart, Other books about animals or zoos
**Thank you to Lynn Kelly from Kane Miller for providing a copy for review!**
Author: Sudipta bardhan-Quallen
Illustrator: Jacki Urbanovic
Published April 4th, 2017 by Two Lions
Summary: Lonely Platypus wants to play, but where should he go? Should he jump with the kangaroos? Leap with the possums? Fly with the bats? Every time he tries to find out—skipping, hopping, dipping, dropping—he winds up going splat instead. Can a SPLATypus find a place where he belongs? This rhyming, rollicking story is perfect for reading aloud.
Review: Everyone is searching for their place in the world. Starting at a very young age, we want to be accepted and know that we belong. Kids will love the platypus story because it is about him figuring it out; however, even though the message is quite serious and will lead to important talks, it leads to this topic in a very fun and humorous way. The platypus’s adventure is just so silly that readers will be mesmerized by it and the colorful illustrations! This story is a win-win for teachers, parents, and kids!
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: The most important way this book will fit into most classrooms is through read aloud and the classroom library. Like I shared above, it really does lead to conversations about identity and fitting in but does so in a non-preachy way. Additionally, the text could be used as a mentor text for writing a narrative animal story in a similar style. Maybe OOPSephant or KangaNO or GOrilla filled with onomatopoeias and rhyming.
Discussion Questions: When is a time you haven’t felt like you fit in? What did you do to make your situation better?: What words in the story rhymed?; What onomatopoeias did the author use in the text? Why do you think they were included?
Read This If You Loved: Leaping Lemmings by John Briggs, Hoot and Honk Just Can’t Sleep by Leslie Helakoski, The Knowing Book by Rebecca Kai Dotlich, A Big Surprise for Little Card by Charise Mericle Harper, Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie, After the Fall by Dan Santat, Little Excavator by Anna Dewdney, Not Quite Narwhal by Jessie Sima
**Thank you to Al at Two Lions for providing a copy for review and giveaway!**
Snow White: A Graphic Novel
Author: Matt Phelan
Published: September 21, 2016 by Candlewick
A Guest Review by Emily Baseler
GoodReads Summary: Award-winning graphic novelist Matt Phelan delivers a darkly stylized noir Snow White set against the backdrop of Depression-era Manhattan.
The scene: New York City, 1928. The dazzling lights cast shadows that grow ever darker as the glitzy prosperity of the Roaring Twenties screeches to a halt. Enter a cast of familiar characters: a young girl, Samantha White, returning after being sent away by her cruel stepmother, the Queen of the Follies, years earlier; her father, the King of Wall Street, who survives the stock market crash only to suffer a strange and sudden death; seven street urchins, brave protectors for a girl as pure as snow; and a mysterious stock ticker that holds the stepmother in its thrall, churning out ticker tape imprinted with the wicked words “Another . . . More Beautiful . . . KILL.” In a moody, cinematic new telling of a beloved fairy tale, extraordinary graphic novelist Matt Phelan captures the essence of classic film noir on the page—and draws a striking distinction between good and evil.
Review: Matt Phelan reinvented the “happily ever after” with this retelling. I identify as a Disney Classic enthusiast but I was pleasantly surprised with the ending. The illustrations are gorgeous with distinct intentionality. More mature themes such as death, assassination, murder were evaluated within a historical context to create an incredible murder mystery story at the level of a middle grade reader.
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This would be an excellent text to hand a more reluctant reader. There is limited text the reader is asked to interpret the illustrations and structure. In literature groups, students could potentially discuss the use of metaphor, oenomania, author/illustrator’s choice, and compare/ contrast the original fairytale with the retelling. This is also a text I would recommend to a student who has shown an interest in the graphic novel genre to read independently.
Discussion Questions: Why do you think the author choose to use red in selected illustrations? How did this choice influence you as a reader?; Why do you think the author choose to break apart the chapters this way?; Even though there were few words, how did you interpret the mood, tone, and voice of characters?; Did you find yourself needing to interpret the illustrations to understand the plot? What was that experience like for you as a reader?; How is this retelling of the classic fairy tale of “Snow White” different than the original? What did you notice is similar?
Flagged Passage: “My name is Snow White, but my mother didn’t call be that to be funny. She would say that the snow covers everything and makes the entire world beautiful” (Ch. 10)
Read This If You Loved: Red: The True Story of Red Riding Hood by Liesl Shurtliff, Jack: The True Story of Jack and the Beanstalk by Liesl Shurtliff, Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin by Liesl Shurtliff
Thank you, Emily!
Rosie Revere, Engineer
Author: Andrea Beaty; Illustrated by: David Roberts
Published: September 3, 2013 by Abrams
A Guest Review by Jennifer Zafetti
Summary: Rosie is an ambitious young girl who aspires to be an engineer. She creates an invention for her uncle, but becomes embarrassed when he laughs at her. She does not feel supported , until she meets her Great-Great-Aunt Rose who is both an adventurer and an explorer. Her great-great-aunt yearns to fly so Rosie builds her a contraption made out of cheese. When her great-great-aunt laughs at her failure, Rosie becomes disheartened and swears to never invent again. Rose provides her with comfort and explains that, “Your brilliant first flop was a raging success.” This provides Rosie with the encouragement she needs to try again!
Review: I really enjoyed reading this book! I think that it is so important for kids to embrace failures! If Rosie had admitted defeat after her first failure, she would have never been able to be successful. Rosie’s perserverance allowed her to create a flying contraption for her aunt. Furthermore, the rhyming sentences created an engaging tone that kept me wondering what would happen next. This is a great story to read-aloud to a classroom! Additionally, the illustrations on each page really add to the story and provide detailed visuals to accompany Rosie’s different inventions. Overall, I think that this book can be inspirational for all ages—the simple message: never give up!
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Rosie Revere, Engineer is an uplifting story in which failure turns into success. Teachers should use this children’s book to teach students about the importance of perseverance. When faced with challenges, students should use them as an opportunity to grow. If you believe in yourself, you can achieve anything!
Also, the teacher can pause the reading to ask for predictions.
Discussion Questions: How did Rosie’s mood change throughout the story?; When is a time that you persevered when facing a challenge?; When is a time that you have learned from a failure? How do Rosie’s family members impact her actions?
Read This If You Loved: Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty, and The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires
Thank you, Jennifer!
Author and Illustrator: David Merveille
Published February 1st, 2008 by Kane Miller
Summary: From disco to opera, hip hop to jazz, David Merveille’s unique style makes this practically wordless book sing. A non-fiction journey through the musical universe, Jukebox is filled with details, […]
Author and Illustrator: David Merveille
Published February 1st, 2008 by Kane Miller
Summary: From disco to opera, hip hop to jazz, David Merveille’s unique style makes this practically wordless book sing. A non-fiction journey through the musical universe, Jukebox is filled with details, revealing as much about the people who listen to music as it does about those who create it.
My Thoughts: This wordless picture book celebrates a variety of music genres in a beautiful way. He is able to show through illustrations the feeling of music personified. Merveille’s artwork really bring each genre to life. The easiest way to explain how he is able to do this is to show you:
Dan, The Taxi Man
Author: Eric Ode
Illustrator: Kent Culotta
Published September, 2012 by Kane Miller
Summary: “Here’s Dan, Beep! Beep! the Taxi Man, going to the show and picking up the band. Climb inside while you still can with Dan, Beep! Beep! the Taxi Man.” And what a band it is! A symphony of sounds and colors, this cumulative tale is as much fun to read aloud as it is to listen to.
My Thoughts: Dan, The Taxi Man celebrates music by bringing a band together and putting focus on each musician and their instrument. The onomatopoeias, the rhythm, and the repetition throughout makes this a book that kids will want to read over and over again (just like Trent does!).
P.S. Check out Busy Trucks on the Go by Eric Ode and Kent Culotta for a fun shout-out to Dan, The Taxi Man!
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: These two books definitely celebrate music and do so in two different ways. These books would be great read alouds in the classroom, specifically music classes. I also could see them be used in a lit circle or book club activity with a selection of music picture books such as Trombone Shorty, Herman & Rosie, and Marvin Makes Music as well as many others.
**Thank you to Lynn from Kane Miller for providing copies for review!**
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!
Antsy Adams: Ansel Adams, A Life in Nature
Author: Cindy Jenson-Elliott
Illustrator: Christy Hale
Published September 6th, 2016 by Henry Holt and Co.
Goodreads Summary: You may be familiar with Adams’s iconic black-and-white nature photographs. But do you know about the artist who created these images?
As a child, Ansel Adams just couldn’t sit still. He felt trapped indoors and never walked anywhere–he ran. Even when he sat, his feet danced. But in nature, Ansel felt right at home. He fell in love with the gusting gales of the Golden Gate, the quiet whisper of Lobos Creek, the icy white of Yosemite Valley, and countless other remarkable natural sights.
From his early days in San Francisco to the height of his glory nationwide, this book chronicles a restless boy’s path to becoming an iconic nature photographer.
About the Author: Cindy Jenson-Elliott is the author of 17 books, a teacher and environmental educator. She teaches writing workshops through her small business Words to Go (www.wordstogosd.com) You can see her work on her website at www.cindyjensonelliott.com.
Kellee’s Review: As a child of a museum director and a photographer, Ansel Adams has been a name that I’ve known since I was quite young. He was one of the first artists whose work I could identify on my own. I was fascinated by his photographs–almost spooky in their lights and shadows but beautiful to where you cannot take your eyes off of them.
I loved learning about Ansel as a child. His story rang true as a teacher especially because there are so many kids like Ansel who are not made for the traditional setting of school yet are brilliant and should be educated a bit differently than the norm. Cindy Jenson-Elliott and Christy Hale do a very good job at showing and telling how Ansel viewed the world. With detailed illustrations, onomatopoeias, and a rhythmic texts, Ansel’s story is told in such an authentic way that really takes the reader into his brilliant mind.
Ricki’s Review: I’ve heard the name Ansel Adams, but I never connected it to the beautiful photography. I am so glad to have read this book because it made me aware of an important man that I didn’t know much about! As a mom of a son that is always itching to go outdoors, this was a great book to read to him. He felt very connected to Ansel! It also taught him all of the lessons he learns while he is outside! It is great to learn about who this man was as a child and what his life was like when he was growing up.
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Ansel’s story fits into art, history, and language arts. Ansel Adams is a very significant artist of the 20th century and his story could be told within the context of art history or American history. The historical aspect in addition to the imagery, figurative language, and rhythm makes this text perfect for the classroom.
Discussion Questions: How did Ansel’s life change after his dad pulled him out of school? How did this choice affect the rest of his life?; How did Ansel’s personality differ from what the school expected of him?; Who do you think had the biggest influence on Ansel’s life?; Ansel was able to do what he loved for a living. What do you love to do? How could you make a living doing it?
Author Guest Post: I really enjoyed working on this book, partly because I loved the character, but also because I spend a lot of time in the places Ansel Adams haunted. I went to Yosemite for the first time at the same age as Ansel Adams went. And each year, my family treks up to the High Sierra to camp and explore.
I also loved deeply immersing myself in his life and discovering so many things I had not realized: that he explored nearby nature — not far away and exotic locales — as a child, and that forged his connection with the natural world; that he did commercial work to make a living for his family (so affirming for artists and writers who have to do the same thing!); that he was a concert pianist.
Sometimes when you deeply research a life in order to write a biography, you fall a little bit in love with your subject. Though this was my first biography, from what I understand from other biographers, that’s a common experience. I also understand that many biographers, after spending a few years with someone, fall out of love as they discover all the dimensions of a personality. That didn’t happen for me with Ansel Adams. Reading about the person, seeing where he lived and what he valued throughout his life, and particularly through reading autobiography, I felt such admiration and respect. In a well-written autobiography, you get into a state where you feel like you are experiencing a person’s essence. Reading Ansel Adams’s autobiography was like that for me — his poetic word choices, the way he described the world he lived in and his experience in that world, I had the feeling of standing beside him and seeing his world through his eyes. I wanted to carry that essence into my picture book about Ansel Adams. I wanted young readers to feel what Ansel Adams must have felt making a connection with nature in quiet Lobos Creek behind his house, or meeting his beloved Yosemite for the first time. I wanted the experience of reading Antsy Ansel: Ansel Adams, a Life in Nature, to be visceral. I hope that through my words and Christy Hale’s collage art, that people experience the world through a beautiful set of eyes.
(Yosemite photographs to see the beauty and precision of Christy Hale’s artwork)
Read This If You Love: Art/photography, The Noisy Paintbox by Barb Rosenstock, The Museum by Susan Verde, Dorothea’s Eyes by Barb Rosenstock, Photos Framed by Ruth Thomson, The Sky Painter by Margarita Engle, On a Beam of Light by Jennifer Berne
**Thank you to Cindy and Morgan at Macmillan for providing copies for review!**
Teeny Tiny Toady
Author: Jill Esbaum
Illustrator: Keika Yamaguchi
Published: March 1, 2016 by Sterling Children’s Books
Goodreads Summary: When a giant hand scoops up her mama and puts her in a pail, a terrified tiny toad named Teeny hops faster than she ever did in her life. “Mama’s stuck inside a bucket! Help me get her out!” she begs her big, clumsy brothers. “Don’t you worry, kid. We’ll save her!” they promise, bumbling and stumbling and jumbling out the door. But as the boys rush headlong to the rescue, pushing their little sister aside, it becomes clear: brawn isn’t always better than brains—and the smallest of the family may just be the smartest one of all. Written in lilting verse.
Ricki’s Review: I should be honest that frogs and toads are my favorite animal. I love everything about them! Reading this book was such a joy. I loved how the words danced across the page. If you look at the image below, you will see the way the words pop. The toads are personified in a way that makes me smile. They high five, cheer, hold each other up, etc. Teeny may be little, but she is fierce. It takes her some time to realize that she has valuable ideas. I enjoy teaching my son to be critical of gender as we read this book, and I particularly enjoyed the feminist theme.
Kellee’s Review: I should be honest that frogs and toads are one of my least favorite animals. However, that did not keep me from loving this book! Ricki touched on much of what is superb about the book including the onomatopoeias throughout, the way the words hop like toads all over the page, and the joyousness of these toads’ family. I also particularly enjoyed the theme of this book–it definitely shows how you shouldn’t underestimate people especially if you are basing it off of a prejudicial stereotype. It also I plan on using this for one of my precept/theme activities with my students because I feel there is so much that could be discussed in this teeny, tiny book.
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This story would be great to use in a creative writing class. The author and illustrator cleverly craft the phrasing and presentation of the story, and this will be inspirational for writers and illustrators. Teachers might also use this text to teach personification, onomatopoeias, and effective use of rhyme.
Discussion Questions: When does Teeny realize that her ideas are valuable? How does her size impact how she feels about herself?; Are there other ways that Teeny could have gotten her family out of the bucket? Try to think of as many ways as you can and how they would have impact the telling of the story.
Read This If You Loved: The Frog and Toad series; Stick by Steve Green; Green Wilma by Tedd Arnold
**Thank you to Josh at Sterling Books for providing copies for review!**
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