Skinny Little Tree by Jayme Martin



Skinny Little Tree
Author: Jayme Martin
Published June 30th, 2013 by Outskirts Press

Goodreads Summary: “All the seasons are worth living…” May Skinny Little Tree, Wiggly Worms, and Little Leaves remind you that all the seasons of life are worth living.

Review: This is a fabulous book to teach children about the changing of seasons. A little boy approaches Skinny Little Tree and asks her whey she is smiling, weeping, worried, etc., and she tells him why she is feeling those emotions. She responds with an answer that shows she doesn’t understand how her environment changes as the seasons change. After each season, there is a workbook page that asks the reader to draw a different element of the plot. I imagine that kids would have a lot of great fun with this interactive text!

Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: This would be a great book to pair with a unit about the changing seasons or the emotions that we feel. I think kids would have a lot of fun with the interactive drawing sections. I’d love to see students write their own books from the perspective of a different inanimate object as it responds to the seasons changing. For example, a student might choose to write from the perspective of a pond as it goes through the seasons of a year.

It is reminiscent of many Eric Carle books, so teachers might find it valuable to pair them to teach author’s craft.

Discussion Questions: What changes does Skinny Little Tree experience as the seasons change? Which was your favorite season? Why?; What does Skinny Little Tree come to understand by the end of the book?; How does the repetition in this book add to the story?

We Flagged: “‘Skinny Little Tree, / why are you smiling at me?’ / ‘Because Wiggly Worms / are tickling my toes'” (p. 3-4).

Read This If You Loved: Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? written by Bill Martin Jr. and illustrated by Eric Carle, The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

Recommended For: 

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**Thank you to Jayme Martin for providing me with this copy for review!**

Penguin on Vacation by Salina Yoon



Penguin on Vacation
Author and Illustrator: Salina Yoon
Published August 16th, 2013 by Walker Childrens

Goodreads Summary: Penguin’s tired of the snow and cold–so he decides to go on vacation! But where should he go? And what new friends will he meet along the way?

Seasoned illustrator Salina Yoon’s spare text and bright, energetic illustrations bring this favorite character to life, ensuring that readers will be clamoring for more Penguin stories–whether they find their home in the cold or the warm.

My Review: My friend Niki has talked about how wonderful Yoon’s Penguin books are, but I hadn’t gotten my hands on one until now. After reading Penguin on Vacation, I can see why this character is one that is loved. He is curious, friendly, and cute.  I also am a huge fan of Crab as he was there just as Penguin needed him. This book is a great celebration of odd frienships.

Teacher Tools for Navigation: Read aloud! Primary students will love Penguin and this book is a perfect book to read either before a break or during Friendship Week. It can also be a fun read aloud during a discussion of habitats.

Discussion Questions: Would Penguins and Crabs be able to switch habitats?

We Flagged: 

Copyright © 2013 by Salina Yoon

Read This If You Loved: Penguin and Pinecone by Salina Yoon, One Cool Friend by Tony Buzzeo, Tacky the Penguin by Helen Lester, Penguin Pete by Marcus Pfister, Owen and Mzee by Craig Hatkoff

Recommended For: 

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**Thank you to Julie at Bloomsbury for providing a copy for review!**

Jimmy the Joey by Deborah Lee Rose and Susan Kelly


NF PB 2013

Nonfiction Picture Book 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!


Jimmy the Joey: The True Story of an Amazing Koala Rescue
Authors: Deborah Lee Rose and Susan Kelly
Photographer: Susan Kelly
Published July 9th, 2013 by National Geographic Children’s Books

Goodreads Summary: This warm and inspirational photographic picture book for ages 4 to 8 is a compelling and uplifting true story, with a sweet message about coping with loss that draws attention to an important and threatened wild animal.

Jimmy is an adorable baby koala whose tender tale is sure to strike at the heartstrings of every animal lover. Readers will marvel at Jimmy’s new life at Koala Hospital, being raised by loving human caregivers and interacting with other koalas healing from injury. The book also introduces young readers to the need for conservational awareness: Through Jimmy’s life story readers will come to understand the many obstacles koalas and other species face today.

My Review: So I must warn you. This book is full of adorable. You fall in love with Joey instantly and will love every second of his story. Joey’s story is combined with information about koalas as well as information about conservation. However, it never gets preachy; it is just the facts of Jimmy’s story. Oh, and did I say ADORABLE?!?!

Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: This will be a favorite read aloud in elementary classrooms. How can you not love reading about this adorable koala. The read aloud cold easily move into cause and effect discussions about how the environmental changes are effecting animals. Jimmy would be a great introduction to deforestation.

Discussion Questions: How did the tearing down of forests effect Jimmy’s life?; Why does the Koala Hospital let the koalas go after they are better?

We Flagged: “Many trees in the forest had been cut down to make room for roads and people’s houses. The mother koala needed to find a new tree with plenty of fresh leaves to eat. One starry night, with her joey holding tight to her fur, the mother koala climbed slowly to the ground.” (p. 6)

Read This If You Loved: Seymour Simon animal nonfiction books, Let’s Make a Difference: We Can Help Orangutans by Gabriella Francine, Can We Save the Tigerby Martin Jenkins, Seabird in the Forest by Joan Dunning

Recommended For: 

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**Thank you to Tracey at Media Masters Publicity for providing a copy for review!!**

Children’s Book Poll Results


Baby Library Poll2

Last Sunday we asked for your help. 
We are both having baby boys very soon (Ricki in December, Kellee in February) and are looking to make sure they have the best books available. To make sure we didn’t miss anything, we asked you all to share with us the MUST HAVE classic and contemporary picture books we need for them. 
Today we are so excited to share the results

Recommended Classic Picture Books

Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey








Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Barn








Love You Forever by Robert Munsch


The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats


The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle


Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown


Wilson’s World by Edith Thatcher Hurd

The Going-to-Bed Book by Sandra Boynton


Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin, Jr.


The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton


Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr.


Recommended Contemporary Picture Books

10 Minutes Till Bedtime by Peggy Rathmann


Time for Bed by Mem Fox


Knuffled Bunny by Mo Willems


Bear Has a Story to Tell by Phillip C. Stead


May We Sleep Here Tonight? by Tan Koide


The House in the Night by Susan Marie Swanson


The Family Book by Todd Parr


Yummy Yucky by Leslie Patricelli


The Snatchabook by Helen Docherty


Peas on Earth by Todd H. Doodler


Journey by Aaron Becker


Nathaniel Willy Scared Silly by Judith Mathews


The Man with the Violin by Kathy Stinson


Button Nose by Nina Laden


Sick Day for Amos by Phillip C. Stead


If I Built a Car by Chris Van Dusen


Little You by Richard Van Camp


 There are many books on this list which we may have overlooked!
Thank you to everyone who shared their favorite picture books with us and we cannot wait to get these for our babies’ libraries!

Signature andRickiSig

Faithful Elephants by Yukio Tsuchiya


NF PB 2013

Nonfiction Picture Book 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!


Faithful Elephants: A True Story of Animals, People, and War
Author: Yukio Tsuchiya
Translator: Tomoko Tsuchiya Dykes
Illustrator: Ted Lewin
Published October 30th, 1997 by HMH Books for Young Readers

Goodreads Summary: A zookeeper recounts the story of John, Tonky, and Wanly, three performing elephants at the Ueno Zoo in Tokyo, whose turn it is to die, and of their keepers, who weep and pray that World War II will end so their beloved elephants might be saved.

My Review: I picked up this book as soon as I read that  Jillian Heise thought that it’d be a good companion to Endangered. I read aloud Endangered with my 8th graders last year, and I trusted that Jillian knew what she was talking about. The subtitle warned me that this picture book would definitely not be a cheery one, but I could not have prepared myself for how emotional the book actually was. The lyrical writing and soft, watercolor illustrations add to the intensity of the story. Be warned: tears will happen.

Teacher’s Tools For Navigation: This book not only would be a perfect companion to Endangered, it is definitely a wonderful picture book to lead to deep discussions in the classroom. Children are always very emotional about books pertaining to animals, so I know they will have an intense opinion about what happens in this book. As the zookeepers kill the animals to protect the city in case of a bombing, students will definitely disagree with this decision and this will lead to a great debate. The story also lends itself towards discussions about animal emotions and abuse as well as cause and effect discussions.

Discussion Questions: In what ways is the story of the elephants in Faithful Elephants similar to the story of the bonobos in Eliot Schrefer’s Endangered?; Was there an alternate solution that the zookeepers could have considered for the elephants?

We Flagged: “Not far from the cheerful square, there stands a tombstone. Not many notice this monument for the animals that have died at the Ueno Zoo. It is quiet and peaceful here, and the sun warms every corner.” (p. 8)

Read This If You Loved: Endangered by Eliot Schrefer, The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate, The Outside of a Horse by Ginny Rorby

Recommended For: 

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Halloween Hustle by Charlotte Gunnufson




Halloween Hustle
Author: Charlotte Gunnufson
Illustrator: Kevan J. Atteberry
Published September 3rd, 2013 by Two Lions

Goodreads Summary: In the dark, a funky beat. / Something white with bony feet. / Skeleton dancing up the street, / Doing the Halloween Hustle. Skeleton is dancing his way to a Halloween party but as he grooves across town, he keeps stumbling, tumbling, and falling apart! Can Skeleton stay in one piece long enough to make it to the party?

Kellee’s Review: This is a perfect Halloween book for young readers who want to get into the spirit yet do not want to be scared. The colorful illustrations add an extra element of fun to the book which will suck the readers even more into the book. My favorite part, though, is the rhyming and rhythm. It adds something special to the book that makes it different than other Halloween books.

Ricki’s Review: This is the first book I read to my pregnant belly. My future son was kicking the entire time! It was such an entertaining story, and my husband even listened in. My favorite aspect of this book would easily be the great examples of figurative language. For example, this alliteration: “Gets up and grooves with ghoulish grace” (p. 7), or this consonance: “Bones scatter / What a clatter / Spine is like a broken ladder!” (p. 4). You may also notice the simile in that last passage! Like Kellee, the colorful illustrations also drew me in, and I also loved all of the famous scary characters in the book, like Frankenstein’s Monster and Dracula.

Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: This book is made for reading aloud! It rhymes, has a great rhythm, and has repetitive text for students to read aloud with the teachers. It also has a great message to students and has opportunities for discussion about cause and effect, imagery, and rhyming. Teachers of any level would it beneficial to use this book to teach alliteration, assonance, consonance, similes, and other types of figurative language.

Discussion Questions: What characteristics does the Skeleton have that makes it so he is able to get to the party? What characteristics does the Skeleton have that would make him a new friend?; How does the author use rhymes to convey her message effectively?; Is this book a poem? Use textual evidence to defend your answer.

We Flagged:

“In the dark, a funky beat,
Something white with bony feet.
Skeleton dancing up the street,
Doing the Halloween Hustle.

Bony thumbs and fingers snap.
Bony heels and toes tip-tap.
Knees knock-knock and elbows flap,
Doing the Halloween Hustle.” (p. 2-3)

Skeleton and his Sidekick

Read This If You Loved: Spider and the Fly by Mary Howitt, Dragon’s Halloween by Dav Pilkey, Goodnight Goon by Michael Rex, Monster Mash (Babymouse #9) by Jennifer L. Holm, Scaredy Squirrel Prepares for Halloween by Melanie Watt; Man Made Boy by Jon Skovron

Recommended For: 

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**Thank you to Charlotte Gunnufson for providing us copies for review!**