Currently viewing the category: "Onomatopoeia"

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?

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Loved: Leaping Lemmings by John BriggsHoot and Honk Just Can’t Sleep by Leslie HelakoskiThe Knowing Book by Rebecca Kai DotlichA Big Surprise for Little Card by Charise Mericle HarperThunder Boy Jr. by Sherman AlexieAfter the Fall by Dan Santat, Little Excavator by Anna Dewdney, Not Quite Narwhal by Jessie Sima

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**Thank you to Al at Two Lions for providing a copy for review and giveaway!**

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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)

Book Trailer: 

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

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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?

Flagged Passage: 

Read This If You Loved: Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty, and The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires

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Thank you, Jennifer!



juke box

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 dan

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 & Rosieand Marvin Makes Music as well as many others.

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**Thank you to Lynn from Kane Miller for providing copies for review!**

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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!


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.

Cindy Jenson-Elliott photo

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 ( You can see her work on her website at

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.

Flagged Passages: 

ansel-yosemite ansel-adams-spread-2

(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 ThomsonThe Sky Painter by Margarita Engle, On a Beam of Light by Jennifer Berne

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**Thank you to Cindy and Morgan at Macmillan for providing copies for review!**

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teeny tiny toad

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.

Flagged Passage:

teeny passageSpread from:

Read This If You Loved: The Frog and Toad series; Stick by Steve Green; Green Wilma by Tedd Arnold

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**Thank you to Josh at Sterling Books for providing copies for review!**

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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!

farm animals

Farm Animals
Author: Catherine D. Hughes
Photographs from National Geographic
Published February 9th, 2016 by National Geographic Children’s Books

Goodreads Summary: Young readers will meet their favorite farm animals and learn more about them through simple, age-appropriate language in this colorful board book.


Rascally Rabbits! And More True Stories of Animals Behaving Badly!
Author: Aline Alexander Newman
Photographs from National Geographic
Published February 9th, 2016 by National Geographic Children’s Books

Goodreads Summary: These bunnies may look adorable, but there’s more than meets the eye! In Rascally Rabbits, meet some rabbits that cause nothing but trouble, a rescue pup who will eat ANYTHING, and a sneaky bear with a taste for treats. Readers won’t stop laughing as they read these hilarious–and completely true!–stories. Filled with engaging photos, fast facts, and fascinating sidebars, readers won’t want to put this book down.

Kellee’s Review: What I like so much about National Geographic Kids books are that they really do take nonfiction to the next level. First, they have nonfiction for all ages. The Look & Learn series are for kids ages 1-4 then move to their Readers Series which is an early reader then to Chapters that is primary level. Each level adds more text but continue to include interesting facts and photographs. Once you get up to Chapters, the text even includes sidebars, an index, and a bibliography. 

Farm Animals was a favorite with Trent immediately. One of his stations at school is all about animals and they spend their time there talking about the different animals, what color they are, and what sound they made, so Trent loved telling me all of the animals’ names and the sound they make. I loved that there were animals facts and sidebars in addition to just the animal photographs and sounds.

Rascally Rabbits! is a perfect first chapter book because it is quite funny (these animals do some crazy things), it is educational because it teaches about the animals as well, and it splits up the stories into nice sections.

Ricki’s Review: I completely agree with Kellee. I much prefer narrative nonfiction, so I always hesitate to pick up informational nonfiction. The National Geographic books remind me just how wrong my assumptions are. I am not crazy about leveling, particularly with nonfiction, but I think that some parents really like it. And I think the leveling in these books is far more accurate than in fiction texts. 

I knew Henry would love Farm Animals the second we got it in the mail. Like most kids, he loves animals. He immediately began singing “Old McDonald” as we started reading the book, and he was bouncing up and down as we went through each of the brightly colored pictures.

Rascally Rabbits! is a bit challenging for him, but he loved the pictures. I opted to read selected text to him aloud, and I read the entire book on my own. Kids who are interested in rabbits will absolutely adore these books. I still remember reading dozens of books about poodles when I was younger. Because I was so interested in the content, I didn’t realize how much I was learning! The book is organized very well, and they did a really nice job with this one.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: National Geographic Kids’ books should be a go to for a teacher’s informational nonfiction section. Students will love reading and learning from these texts. Farm Animals and other Look & Learn books are perfect for read alouds and helping young children learn about different parts of our world. Rascally Rabbits! and other chapter books can be used for read aloud, independent reading, or even within a lit circle/jigsaw. For example, with Rascally Rabbits! each group could read about each of the different animals who made a mistake then go group with one person from each of the other groups to share what they read.

Discussion Questions: (Farm Animals) What product do each of these animals give to us?; What other farm animals do you know? What sounds do they make?; (Rascally Rabbits!) What are some things that Babbity does to make Flopsy’s life tough?; What makes bears get near humans?; Why was Neil afraid something bad might happen with Moose? Did something bad happen? Was it Neil’s fault?

We Flagged: “Moo! Cows eat grass. A group of cows is called a herd. People drink milk that comes from cows. Guess What? One cow can give enough milk in a day to fill 400 glasses.” (Farm Animals)

“Did You Know? The best way to pet a rabbit is to gently scratch its forehead and between its eyes.” (Rascally Rabbits!, p. 9)

“A young black dog ran without purpose along a forest road in Lewis County, New York, U.S.A. Rain was pouring down and freezing on the ground. Tiny icicle hung from the dog’s ears and chin. He had a wild-eyed look on his face.” (Rascally Rabbits!, p. 71)

Read This If You Loved: Nonfiction animals books

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**Thank you Karen from Media Masters Publicity for providing copies for review!**

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