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It's a Secret: Caldecott Contender?

It's a Secret It's a Secret!
Written & illustrated by John Burningham
Ages 3-9

This latest offering by John Burningham finds Malcolm the cat sleeping by day and venturing out to secret adventures at night. Inquisitive Marie Elaine is not content to let sleeping cats lie and manages to accompany Malcolm to a party after being chased by a gang of dogs.

Mr. Burningham's ability to infuse his illustrations with a wry sense of humor (case in point, the introduction of the dog gang) and his simple but engaging story make for one heck of a read.  He has truly created some magic here and I would think we'll be seeing this book on the Caldecott short list.

TeacherShare Activity

Dog Days of Summer

Wiggens Learns His Manners 
at the Four Seasons
by Leslie McGuirk & Alex von Bidder
Ages 5-9

With hot weather settled in, I thought this would be a good time to feature a dog-themed book and Wiggens fits that bill. This Labrador pup is in need of some manners and he heads to the Four Seasons for training. 

Wiggens and his friends retain their puppy enthusiasm as they're taught about social graces. The quirky speech bubbles are sure to keep kids entertained while the 10 lessons on manners are served up in a unique style.  Bon appetit!

Activity: Generate a list of manners with your students and write them on paper plates. Create a restaurant-themed bulletin board display and post the plates for all to see.

Harry Houdini for Kids

Harry Houdini for Kids:

His Life and Adventures with 21 Magic Tricks and Illusions
Written by Laurie Carlson
Ages 8-13

And it's a bonus book review for you this week folks. Chock-full of primary source materials, Harry Houdini for Kids is a nice segue into the world of magic. It features illustrated directions for numerous tricks, including the "Magic Key Trick" and the "Lift a Person with One Hand Trick," as well as directions for making "slimy ectoplasm" and other such crafty concoctions.  

Using some slight of hand, author Laurie Carlson manages to slip in the science behind the magic. Students are bound to enjoy the projects and tricks, whether they perform them independently or as a group in class. For some real fun, have students practice the various tricks and put on a show for a neighboring classroom.

Friday Blog Round Up

Spout CoverCongrats to Eric Carle on the big 80!  The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art will be celebrating this event in a number of ways, including a Birthday Bash and Children's Book Festival with the Western Massachusetts Illustrators' Guild, on June 13th. If you can't make it, be sure to check out their online gift shop. The bath spout is one of my favorites.   

Oh, the Places You'll Go!, that Dr. Seuss classic, is the focus of a new scholarship sponsored by Random House. President Chip Gibson announced Random House Children's Books, "will award one 2010 graduating high school senior $5,000 toward post-secondary education." Visit www.ohtheplaces.org for details.

Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast has yet another interesting interview, this time with illustrator Amy Ackerley. I still haven't stopped laughing from seeing her illustration of Patrick the penguin with a plunger on his head.

Tuttles-Cover If you're in the market for some picture book illustrations you need to check out the R. Michelson Galleries. They have a terrific selection; everything from Dr. Seuss to Mo Willems. They even had a show for one of my favorites, Thomas Locker. If you're in the Northampton, MA area, this jewel of a gallery is worth a visit. You can even pick up an autographed copy of one of Mr. Michelson's picture books.  

Have you signed up yet for Scholastic Mini Books?  Now's the time my book-savvy friends. There is quite a selection, including resources on favorites like The Grouchy Ladybug and Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

Hope you have a super summer folks. If you're looking for some summertime books reviews, be sure to visit me on TeacherShare. Until then, keep reading and enjoy the sun!

Picture Book Thursday: Art for Everyone

FlyKiteFly Fly, Kit Fly!: A Story of Leonardo and a Bird Catcher
Written and illustrated by John Winch
Little Hare

Ages 4-9

A_is_for_Art A Is for Art: An Abstract Alphabet
Written and illustrated by Stephen T. Johnson
Ages 5-9

Vermeer_Interviews The Vermeer Interviews: Conversations with Seven Works of Art
Written and illustrated by Bob Raczka
Ages 8-16

Fly, Kit Fly!: A Story of Leonardo and a Bird Catcher

This book was published a year or two ago but it's a good one to have for your classroom. This bit of historical fiction is based on the real meeting of Leonardo da Vinci and his life long friend Giacomo. Challenged to capture a red-tailed kite for the prince, the young boy completes his mission by offering a model built by da Vinci. Combined with rich red infused illustrations, this book is a fun tale and visual treat.  

A Is for Art: An Abstract Alphabet
This has to be one of the most interesting alphabet books on the market. Filled with truly abstract artwork and accompanying alliterative text, this title is well suited for old and young students alike. I think my favorites are "Fast Food Frenzy" featuring french fries and "Hoopla!" every Slinky aficionado's dream. Nice job Stephen T. Johnson!

The Vermeer Interviews: Conversations with Seven Works of Art
What a innovative way to help children to appreciate art. Bob Raczka "interviews" a number of the figures found in the paintings of Vermeer, allowing him to comment on artistic style and symbolism as well as everyday life in the 1600s. You're going to enjoy reading this as much as your students will.

After having a class discussion about Leonardo da Vinci, students can draw pictures of their own inventions. Bind the drawings together to create a class book or display them on a bulletin board.

For more book reviews during our summer hiatus, be sure to hop on over to TeacherShare.

Friday Blog Round Up: Duck! Rabbit! and an Olivia poster

Duck_rabbit Cathleen at Chronicle Books tipped me off to a bunch of cool book features they have online. They include teacher guides, printable posters and videos. Check out the links for the following: Duck! Rabbit!, Little Oink, and Horse Crazy.

Chris Gall is currently being featured on the Little Brown Books You Tube channel. Hear about his inspiration behind Dinotrux! or check out another video to hear Patrick McDonnell, Stephenie Meyer, or James Patterson.

Over at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, there's an interview with one of my favorite illustrators, Christopher Denise, as well as author Kristy Dempsey. It's also worth taking a look at his Web site; you'll get a full sense of his artwork. Keep up the good work Christopher!

With all the festivities around last week's Children's Book Week, there are still so many fun resources out there. I'm assuming this poster of Ian Falconer's Olivia is still available and worth the 60 cents for your classroom.

There's something about Mir that makes me want to pull a chair up to the table at Kitchen Table Reviews. This week she's blogging about Tedd Arnold's Super Fly Guy -- and fly he is!

You know the drill folks. Have a happy weekend and we'll see you back here next week!

Picture Book Thursday: Chicks

Missingchick The Missing Chick
Written and illustrated by Valeri Gorbachev

Candlewick Press

Ages 4-8

Littlechick Little Chick
Written by Amy Hest
Illustrated by Anita Jeram
Ages 4-8

Toughchicks Tough Chicks
Written by Cece Meng
Illustrated by Melissa Suber
Ages 4-8

The Missing Chick

I have to admit, right off the bat, that I am a Valeri Gorbachev fan. His artwork has always reminded me of that of Garth Williams, another of my all-time favorite illustrators. He once again delivers with The Missing Chick, a Richard Scarry-esque mystery about a missing chick. With good-hearted help from the police, firefighters, neighbors, and a detective, the chick is found safe and sound in a laundry basket. The cute characters and simple plot will keep children engrossed. 

Little Chick
I honestly was not expecting this book to be able to pull off three entertaining stories, but they're all very sweet. Children will find them affirming as Little Chick struggles with life's wonders. "The Carrot That Would Not Grow," "The Kite That Would Not Fly" and "The Starry Night" all feature the nurturing relationship between Little Chick and Old-Auntie.  

My favorite tale has Old -Auntie offering some words of wisdom: "'A tall carrot is certainly nice,' agreed Old-Auntie. 'But sometimes,' she whispered, 'a small carrot is just what you need.'"  This book could easily become a beloved classic.

Tough Chicks
Are they tough? Well they're certainly not punks, but tough in more of a resourceful and inquisitive way. Much to the chagrin of their barnyard buddies, they also know how to have a good time, diving after barn flies, roping the roosters, and rolling in the pigpen. When it's time to save the day, they jump into action, stopping the tractor from hitting the hen house -- and then going so far as to repair it. These are some chicks I'd want watching my back!

Take a white paper plate and cut it in half in a zigzag fashion. Attach the two halves with a brad fastener to create a "cracked egg."  Cut out a chick from yellow construction paper and glue it to the back of one half of the plate.  When the egg "cracks" the chick should peek out.

Friday Kid Lit Round-Up

According to PBS, Dr. Seuss's The Cat in the Hat is coming to TV this fall in the new animated series "The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That!" With comedian Martin Short giving voice to the whacky feline, "the world's most beloved cat will whisk preschoolers off on a voyage of scientific discovery for the first time ever as an animated TV series..."

I'm guessing any number of you Twilight fans would have loved to trade places with beauty salon owner Casey Ray. She found the script for New Moon laying in the trash and went to lengths to return it to the studio. Nice job Casey!

Have you taken a look at the handy summer reading book list that's part of the Summer Reading Challenge? Which titles are new to you? I bet you'll find a few fun selections to share with your favorite young friends.

I'm not sure how I missed it, but Jennifer posted a list of class made ABC books that looks just super. Ideas include photographing students as they shape their bodies into letters and finding objects in the classroom that begin with each letter.

While I'm bringing this to your attention too late to win a copy, you'll still definitely want to check out the reviews for Chicken Butt. I'm trying not to judge a book by its title but it's a struggle people. Let me know what you think.

OK folks, you know the drill. I'm off to write a lesson plan or two and I want you to have a super weekend. I'll catch up with you next week.

Picture Book Thursday: This Little Piggy

Cornelius_P_Mud Cornelius P. Mud, Are You Ready for Baby?
Written and illustrated by Barney Saltzberg
Ages 4-8

Being_a_pig_is_nice Being a Pig Is Nice: A Child's-Eye View of Manners
Written by Sally Lloyd-Jones
Illustrated by Dan Krall
Ages 4-8

Ping_Pong_Pig Ping Pong Pig
Written and illustrated by Caroline Jayne Church
Ages 3-6

Cornelius P. Mud, Are You Ready for Baby?

Any child adjusting to a new sibling at home will easily relate to this story. When mom brings home Cornelius' baby brother, Cornelius becomes discouraged by what the newest piglet can't do and is ready to send him back.  

(My brother tried the same thing when my sister arrived home. He added the additional flourish of locking himself in his room. Thirty years later he's made the adjustment.)

With some reassurance from mom and some quality time with his new brother, Cornelius is more than willing to welcome home his new brother.

Being a Pig Is Nice: A Child's-Eye View of Manners
This fun and goofy take on a child's book of manners features a variety of creatures and their topsy-turvy ideas on what it takes to be polite. Being a quiet owl? That's a no-no. A racing snail? Another bad idea. My favorite is a non-splashing elephant, being frowned upon by his dad. "I won't say it again, mister! Splash me this instant, do you hear? -- or ELSE!" Dan Krall's illustrations only add to the fun.

Ping Pong Pig
Ping Pong Pig is one resilient porker who wants to fly but doesn't like to help the other farm animals as he bounces about. Chaos ensues as he knocks over hay, ruins apples, and splashes mud on the barn. With a little help from his friends, in the form of a trampoline, Pig "flies" and attempts to pull his weight with the chores. This quirky tale is bound to have your students laughing at Pig's antics.

After enjoying Being a Pig Is Nice, have students create paper lunch bag puppets based on their animal of choice. Using the puppets, they can take turns acting out "bad manners" for their classmates.

Friday Blog Round Up

Leanne Italie has created an interesting list of famous moms and their favorite kid-lit lines. See if you can make the match for this quote from Charlotte's Web: "You have been my friend. That in itself is a tremendous thing. I wove my webs for you because I liked you." Was it Cokie Roberts, June Lockhart, or Lori Loughlin?

Summer_challenge_promo_lg Now is the time of year to get your students geared up for summer reading. Check out the Summer Challenge, where kids read, play, and get the chance to win prizes all summer long.

And I know how much you all enjoy a good contest. Throw in a chance to win a copy of Meg Cabot's Airhead and you've got yourself a bucket load of fun!

Librarian Approved recently got me turned onto the idea of playing with books. On the one hand, I think it would drive me somewhat loopy to see books bandied about during play but some good points are made.  After you read the list, I'd love to hear your comments.

If you're not familiar with Bridget Zinn, DeoWriter describes her as, "a YA public librarian and YA writer. Lots of energy and sweetness."  She is currently battling cancer and her treatment is "aggressive and expensive." A number of folks in the kid-lit world have gotten together to help raise funds for her, starting with an online auction. This is a perfect chance to make a donation yourself, or hold a fundraiser with your school or students. Send me a note if you need some ideas.

Alrighty, I'm off to read up on what's new in poultry-themed picture books. Have a super weekend and I'll see you back here next week.

Picture Book Thursday: And For My Next Trick...

MoonRabbit Moon Rabbit

Written & Illustrated by Natalie Russell
Ages 3-6

BunnyCanBake This Little Bunny Can Bake
Written & Illustrated by Janet Stein
Ages 4-8

Miffy_Artist Miffy the Artist
Written & Illustrated by Dick Bruna
Ages 4-8

Moon Rabbit

Wow!  This book had me rooting for Little Rabbit to find a soul mate. After falling asleep at the park, this city-loving rabbit meets a brown rabbit with the same taste in music. In fact, he plays the guitar. After dancing, picnics, and fun, Little Rabbit begins to pine for her life in the city. When she returns, it's with the knowledge that there is a kindred spirit out there and they can keep in touch by visiting. Combine this sweet story with Natalie Russell's use of color and printmaking skills and you have a book your students will enjoy.

This Little Bunny Can Bake
I make it a policy not to skip the endpapers when I'm reading a book, so when I saw these endpapers included recipes, I was intrigued. They all look yummy. When you get to the recipe for "Chocolate Salami" don't worry, there's no actual salami involved.

If you want to learn how to make some of these desserts, and you happen to be an animal, you might consider Chef George's School of Dessertology. Bunny does, along with a host of goofy animals. The back story told through the illustrations is as likely to keep you laughing, as it is your students. (The picture of the mouse raising his hand in the measuring cup is priceless.)

Miffy the Artist
You can take the rabbit out of the museum but you can't take the museum out of the rabbit. When Miffy gets back from a visit to the museum, she is inspired to create her own works of art and then posts them to create her own exhibit.  

Dick Bruna's use of primary and secondary colors and simple shapes makes for an endearing and straightforward title. Simply put, this is THE perfect book to read to young students preparing for a museum visit.

This is an activity I just completed with my class. I downloaded color copies of famous works of art and had my students choose one to reproduce. They used markers for the outline and then filled in with colored pencils. Once they were mounted on construction paper "frames," I hung the artwork in the hall alongside the color copies. Students from neighboring classrooms continue to comment on how much they enjoy our museum.

Friday Blog Round Up

Manfish All the talk of Jacques Cousteau at GreatKidBooks has me reminiscing as well.  Although I only have vague recollections of watching his specials as a tot, to me he was the Jeff Corwin of the ocean. You don't want to miss Manfish, the new book about his adventures.

So I was checking out some top 10 picture book lists on BookLights when I came across this tidbit: Can you guess which funny man and picture book author/illustrator used to write for Sesame Street?

I'm with Christine at the BookBench. Our recent record breaking heat wave had me ready to pull out every winter-themed book I could find, but she saved the day for me with a favorite Poppleton book.

Are you interested in winning a copy of Janet Halfmann's new Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea? Then pop on over to ReadingRumpus for numerous ways to enter the contest.

Newsflash! "Mir gives her son the week off to do some birthday bonding with her daughter over a great book." Now you know how much I enjoy KitchenTableReviews. It's worth a peek to see which book was birthday worthy.

Alrighty folks. I'm off to find the latest on bunny picture books for next week's review. Have a super weekend and we'll see you then.

Picture Book Thursday: Springtime Holidays

Cinco_de_Mayo Cinco de Mayo: Celebrating the Traditions of Mexico
Written by Diane Hoyt-Goldsmith
Photographs by Lawrence Migdale
Holiday House

Ages 6-12

Book_Fiesta Book Fiesta!
Written by Pat Mora
Illustrated by Rafael Lopez
Ages 3-7

ThatBookWoman That Book Woman
Written by Heather Henson
Illustrated by David Small
Ages 4-9

Cinco de Mayo: Celebrating the Traditions of Mexico

I wouldn't expect anything less than a quality book from Holiday House and this title is certainly no exception. In depth text, great color photos, and skillful graphic design make this book a must have for celebrating Cinco de Mayo in the classroom. Students will enjoy Rosalba Rosas and her family's celebratory traditions. The glossary of Spanish words is the icing on the cake. 

Book Fiesta!
You can't judge a book by its cover, but I won't blame you if you're smitten with the colorful artwork by the time you open to the endpapers. When you reach the two-page spread of "reading to the moon," you'll wonder if Rafael Lopez has the artwork available in poster form.  

Author Pat Mora has done a fine job crafting a book that celebrates reading and nods to the April 30th Mexican celebration "Day of the Child." Written as a bilingual picture book, both English and Spanish speakers will enjoy the celebration that this book has to offer.

That Book Woman
According to the author's note, "This story was inspired by the true and courageous work of the Pack Horse Librarians, who were known as 'Book Women' in the Appalachian mountains of Kentucky." Told from the point of view of a poor farmer's son, Cal goes from disinterest in reading to asking his sister to teach him after he observes "that book woman" and her dedication to her readers. Author Heather Henson does a nice job capturing Cal's voice, while David Small uses his beautiful illustrations to keep the focus on Cal.

Distribute large index cards to students to make book lists they think the "book woman" should share. Make copies of the cards and bind them into books for students to take home. They'll be able to refer to their friend's book lists when they're choosing what to read.

Friday Blog Round Up

Duck_rabbit OK, I have to admit it, I have not weighed in on the whole Duck! Rabbit! debate. Now that Chronicle has released this video on YouTube, we can all make an informed decision.

Now that your mind is at rest about Duck! Rabbit! you can devote some more time to wondering, "Who knitted Coraline's little sweater for the movie?" That would be miniature knitter extraordinaire Althea Crome.

Margaret Peterson Haddix has a new title out and Achockablog offers a review. I'm not sure how the rating system works but The Missing appears to have earned 4 green chicks.

The folks at PaperTigers are celebrating Earth Day with Jan Reynold's Cycle of Rice, Cycle of Life: A Story of Sustainable Farming. They describe it as a "fascinating photo essay." Sounds like one to add to your classroom bookshelves.

Here's a tip for you as you finish celebrating National Poetry Month with your students. Check out Jack Prelutsky, Karla Kuskin, and Jean Marzollo -- and their writing tips -- on Scholastic's Writing with Writers.

As always folks, have a great weekend and we'll see you back here on Monday.

Picture Book Thursday: Pop Ups

Petsgopop Pets Go Pop!
Written and illustrated by Bob Staake
Little Brown Kids

Ages 4-8

Popuphouse  Pop-Up House of Inventions
Written and illustrated by Robert Crowther
Ages 5-11

Earthlyinventions Earthly Treasure
Written by Kate Petty
Illustrated by Jennie Maizels
Ages 6-10

Pets Go Pop!

If you're planning on teaching about pets, you need to get a hold of this book. With a Dr. Seuss like text and over-the-top pop-up animals, your students will get a kick out of the comic goings on. My favorite is a bystander reading a copy of The Catcher in the Rhino. Oh, it even comes with an activity poster that makes a nice addition to your classroom.

Pop-Up House of Inventions
This title is so loaded with interactive pop-up flaps and folds, I'm certain I haven't found them all. A suit of clothes hanging in a closet, a moving shower curtain, and a cookie sheet of gingerbread men in the oven are just a few of the interactive features that even I was having a blast with. Combine these with facts like, "Romans used candles as early as the 1st century A.D. They were made of animal or vegetable fat, and sometimes hungry soldiers would eat them" and you have a hit. A super book to use when teaching about changing technologies.

Earthly Treasure
I've never been one to get excited about teaching about rocks and minerals. Then again, I didn't have a fun pop-up book like Earthly Treasure as a resource. One pop up scene depicts what a house would be like without metal, while another page features an erupting volcano, complete with lava. If this book doesn't get kids excited about rocks and minerals, I don't know what will.

OK, so this activity is a tad obvious, but I'll make it a bit more intriguing. Pick a theme and have students create a pop-up card. Bind five or six of the cards together to make classroom pop-up books.

Friday Blog Round Up

Thenorthstar If you're interested in attending a The North Star book release party with Peter H. Reynolds, you should drop him a note. The event is Saturday, April 25th and sounds like a great time. Or if you'd like to simply order a copy of the book and have it personalized you can do that too.

After reviewing baseball books last week, I thought you might like to find out about one more.  Anokaberry Annotated reviewed The Brooklyn Nine: A Novel in Nine Innings and it sounds like another home run.

This news has been floating around in the blogosphere for a month or two now. Twilight director Catherine Hardwicke is officially on board to direct If I Stay, which was released on April 2nd.  It's definitely worth a peek as there has been a lot of buzz surrounding the title.

"#19.  Write a ballad or song about the characters and events in your story.  Set the words to the music of a popular song and sing it to the class."  This is just one of 25 book report alternatives found in Karen Sevaly's November! Idea Book.

Easter at the White House involved the President and First Lady reading from two of their favorite picture books. It sounds like President Obama would have made a good teacher. 

OK folks.  Go order a copy of The North Star and have a super weekend.  We'll see you back here on Monday.

Picture Book Thursday: Spring Has Sprung

Ohwhatabeautifulday Oh, What a Beautiful Day!: A Counting Book
Written by Jeanne Modesitt
Illustrated by Robin Spowart
Ages 2-6

Agardenofopposites A Garden of Opposites
Written and illustrated by Nancy Davis
Ages 3-8

Thetwelvedaysofspringtime The Twelve Days of Springtime: A School Counting Book
Written by Deborah Lee Rose
Illustrated by Carey Armstrong-Ellis
Ages 4-8

Oh, What a Beautiful Day!: A Counting Book
How can you not enjoy a book depicting hugging hamsters, flipping ferrets, and a prancing pig? Young readers will enjoy the simple counting and fun rhyming. Combined with illustrator Robin Spowart's simple color palette and color pencil-like strokes, spring is in the air. Sitting under a tree is the perfect place to share this book with students.

A Garden of Opposites
Printed on heavy paper with young readers in mind, this title features illustrations reminiscent of Lois Ehlert's work. With bold shapes and colors, Nancy Davis features opposites like asleep and awake, plain and fancy, and short and long. As a special treat, there is a fold-out at the end, where children can search for more opposites and check their finds by reading the butterfly's trail on the endpapers.  

The Twelve Days of Springtime: A School Counting Book
Any teacher who reads this book is going to immediately recognize that the creators have done their homework. The tank of tadpoles, easel board displays, craft projects, and writing on the chalk board are all familiar scenes to anyone who has spent in an elementary classroom. Combine this attention to detail with the humorous goings-on of the students and the teacher trying to hold it all together and you have one heck of a fun read aloud.

Using construction paper, students can create a set of opposites to be featured on a class bulletin board. Choose a theme like gardens, the ocean, or space and list the opposites on the side.

Friday Kid Lit Round-Up

Baseball, Snakes, and Summer Squash: Poems About Growing Up is just one of the good books Angela Bunyi suggests on her blog. A big fan of Ralph Fletcher, Angela shares some of his (and her) tips on how to encourage boys to enjoy reading and writing.

More and more I'm hearing about Three Cups of Tea activist Greg Mortenson. With his picture book, Listen to the Wind, recently released, more students will be encouraged to hold their own fundraisers to help support those less fortunate than themselves. My class is currently raising funds to build floors in the mountain schools of India.

Readers of Collecting Children's Book were the first to see, "Graveyard Book to be Stripped of Newbery?" What followed was an in-depth and humorous article. Astute readers noticed it was posted on April 1.

The week of April 13th is on its way and School Library Journal's Battle of the Books is about to begin.  With matches like The Graveyard Book vs. The Trouble Begins at 8 and The Hunger Games vs. The Porcupine Year, this is one smack-down you're going to want to follow.

If you're hoping for a chance to win a trip to Disney World, you need to visit RIF and learn about their Read with Kids Challenge. Every participant who logs time reading will be eligible to win prizes from Candlewick and LC Creations. It's well worth a look.

So while you go log in to win a sunny vacation, I'm off to read a book or two. (I'm always looking for leads, so send me a title or two I may have missed.) Have a super weekend and we'll see you back here next week.

Picture Book Thursday: Hey Batta Batta Swing!

RulesoftheGame Rules of the Game: Baseball Poems

Written by Marjorie Maddox
Illustrated by John Sandford
Ages 9-14

ChangeUpBaseballPoems Change-up: Baseball Poems
Written by Gene Fehler
Illustrated by Donald Wu
Ages 6-11

YouNeverHeardofSandyKoufax You Never Heard of Sandy Koufax?!
Written by Jonah Winter
Illustrated by Andre Carrilho
Ages 4-10

Rules of the Game: Baseball Poems
National Poetry Month is the perfect time to celebrate the opening of the season with baseball poetry. Marjorie Maddox, grandniece of former Brooklyn Dodgers manager, has written a compilation that includes Choking Up on the Bat, Beanball, and my favorite, The Line Drive.  This is a book of baseball prose that all student sports enthusiasts will want in their classroom library.

Change-up: Baseball Poems
Wow!  Another comprehensive book of baseball poetry.  Gene Fehler sets forth a series of poems that flow from February, through baseball season, and back to February, covering topics like parents playing ball, superstitions and bench warming.  The combination of picture and poem for Snow Baseball had me feeling like I was in Cooperstown. Fellow Kid Lit Kit blogger Hannah Trierweiler also featured this book in her New Review Tuesday post.

You Never Heard of Sandy Koufax?!
If you can stop playing with the lenticular cover of Sandy pitching, you'll learn everything you ever wanted to about this talented ball player.  By the end of 1961, "Sandy had broken the National League record, with 269 strikeouts."  His repeated pitching led to his elbow swelling to the size of a grapefruit after each game.  Readers will enjoy reading about his carer in baseball, as well as the facts sprinkled throughout the work.  This book is a home run.

Compare "Bench View" from Change-up and "The View from the Dugout" from Rules of the Game.  Have students illustrate the poems, without having seen the original illustrations.  Mount the pictures as a bulletin board display, being sure to include copies of the poems and accompanying artwork.

Friday Blog Round Up

Tshare If you haven't checked out TeacherShare lately, now would be a good time. If you type "lesson plan" into the search box above "resources" on the left, you'll find a treasure trove of picture book related lesson plans. While not all of the hits will be picture books, the majority of them will. They should pop up with the picture book title, followed by lesson plan.
One of my favorite publishing folks, Karen Walsh at HMH, clued me into this fun online resource. The Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Poetry Kit offers classroom activities, downloadable stickers, a Poem-A-Day calendar and a letter from award-winning poet Joyce Sidman. Rhyme on folks!
Our own Anastasia Suen is putting her poetry powers to great use, showcasing a poem a day, from K-12 students.  Keep an eye on PencilTalk this month and you'll be treated to a variety of poems. 
All this poetry talk is making me hungry and I can't help but look back to March, being National Noodle Month and all. Jama Rattigan's AlphabetSoup  serves up a host of pasta related books. Nora Dooley's Everybody Eats Noodles is just the tip of the iceberg.  
By now you're probably rubbing your growling tummy and asking yourself how I could have forgotten to mention Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs?  Well don't despair!  If your "appetite for adventure" is in full swing, you're going to want to check out the movie trailer over on Sony's site. (My favorite is the ratbirds.)
Now that I'm ready for Prince Spaghetti Day, I'll bid you all a super weekend and I'll see you back here on Monday. Oh, and send me a note people!  Let me know what interests you in the Kid Lit World.

Picture Book Thursday: April Poems

Soup Soup for Breakfast
Written and illustrated by Calef Brown
Ages 5-12

Hands Steady Hands: Poems About Work
Illustrated by Megan Halsey and Sean Addy
Ages 8-12

Stampede Stampede!: Poems to Celebrate the Wild Side of School
Illustrated by Steven Salerno
Ages 4-9

Soup for Breakfast

According to the book jacket on Soup for Breakfast, Calef Brown tries to write a poem a day. "Believe it or not, I was once very averse to verse, but now all my nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs go forwards and backwards, riffing and rhyming. It's all about the timing." And that they do. With fun poems like "Painting on Toast" where butter is used as a primer and "T.P.L.T.T.F." (The Parking Lot That Time Forgot) that imagines "rumble seats and window fans, classic coupes and vintage vans," students are sure to find some new favorites.

Steady Hands: Poems About Work

Who would have thought that a welder, retail clerk, and programmer would make for good poetry? But they do, along with a host of others. Tracie Vaughn Zimmer does a wonderful job of capturing the nuances of these careers. With descriptive prose found in poems like "Camp Counselor," she holds a magnifying glass to the sensory experiences that might easily be overlooked. "They roll out sleeping bags and -- too tired to speak -- point out shooting stars and listen to the tink tink tink of the flag hook against the empty pole, the restless crickets, the bullfrog by the riverbank."

Not to be forgotten are the collages Sean Addy has created to accompany the poems. His artwork adds a whole new layer to the poems.

Stampede!: Poems to Celebrate the Wild Side of School
One look at the frenetic, animal and alphabet infused endpapers lets readers know they
are in for some fun. Laura Purdie Salas and Steven Salerno make a super team as they romp through a series of school inspired poems like "Tomorrow Is Picture Day," "Printer Problems" and my personal favorite, "Turtleneck."  Laura does a super job of connecting with students and their school day experiences, while Steven offers up a retro series of illustrations that are just plain fun. Great job guys!

Based on Soup for Breakfast, cut paper in the size of a soup labels and have students write poems on them. Don't forget to add some illustrations. Wrap the poems around cans and create a display to share the poems.

Friday Blog Round Up

RiverFlow 'Tis the season of book awards and prizes and I was interested to find that on American Indians in Children's Literature there is mention of the "First Nation Communities Read" program, complete with annual award. Previous winners include Ancient Thunder, As Long as the River Flows, and SkySisters.  

While I'm not a big snake fan, Sonja is a big Nic Bishop fan, so this link is for her. The Jean Little Library offers a review of The Snake Scientist and with lines like, "They portray the fascinating world of snakes without being too frightening or icky, if you're a non-snakes lover," I might be tempted to actually check out the book!

Last week I challenged you all to donate a book to your local library and it turns out that Support Our Shelves is a campaign to do just that. The Brooklyn Public Library is just one of the systems participating along with others in Arlington, Kensington, and Red Hook. What a super cause.

I thought I was doing well to plan ahead and have some new poetry books out to review for April, National Poetry Month. GottaBook's Gregory has gone above and beyond with a poet a day for the month of April. Jane Yolen, Nikki Giovanni, and Jack Prelutsky are just the tip of the iceberg.

Are you in the mood to create a character scrapbook? Well you will be after you check out the Character Scrapbook tool, complete with a pick-the-facial-features feature.  It reminds me of a high-tech and educational Mr. Potato Head.

All righty folks. My work here is done. Have a fantastic weekend and we'll see you back here on Monday.  

Picture Book Thursday: Frogs

Bigmouth The Frog with the Big Mouth
Written by Teresa Bateman
Illustrated by Will Terry
Ages 4-8

FooFrog Foo, the Flying Frog of Washtub Pond
Written & illustrated by Belle Yang
Ages 3-7

Quentin Blake's Ten Frogs/Dix Grenouilles:
A Book About Counting in English and French
Written & illustrated by Quentin Blake
Pavilion Children's Books
Ages 4-8

The Frog with the Big Mouth
Set in the rainforest "by Iguazu Falls, where Argentina meets Brazil," the Frog with the Big Mouth is on the hop, boasting about his fly eating capabilities to any animal that will listen. Illustrated with verdant greens and filled with interesting points of view, Will Terry does a nice job complementing Teresa Bateman's text. And with a funny, "I should have seen it coming" ending, readers are bound to enjoy the adventures of Frog.

Foo, the Flying Frog of Washtub Pond
I think frogs must just be boastful creatures because Foo is on a roll, bragging to his friends Mao-Mao and Sue-Lin. But he gets his comeuppance and lands on his feet both figuratively and literally. Described as having a "remarkable style influenced by childhood memories of Taiwan and Japan, her experience immigrating to the United States at age seven, and her studies in Scotland and China," Belle Yang has an interesting illustrating style that continues to grow on me. Nice work Belle!

Quentin Blake's Ten Frogs/Dix Grenouilles
I was already a Blake fan from his Roald Dahl illustrations and continue to be with this fun counting book. His quick and quirky make for a fun English/French counting book. I think his "5 Rats" page is my favorite.

Use Ten Frogs as the inspiration to create a class counting book. Have students illustrate their own number page to be bound into a class book. For a home/school connection, xerox the book and send copies home with students.

Friday Kid Lit Round Up


I am such a sucker for Where the Wild Things Are. I love the artwork and the layout of the book is super. I guess it's only natural that I would add to the hype of the forthcoming movie.

Pigeon, Elephant, Naked Mole-rat, need I say more?  Funny man and kid's book author extraordinaire Mo Willems was recently on NPR's "The Roundtable." It's worth a listen.

I'll give you three guesses as to which famous author/illustrator continues to receive over 10,000 fan letters a year. Need a hint? Gene Hackman is his neighbor. If you're still stuck, read Emma Brockes interview over on The Guardian.

I have to admit, I haven't tried this myself yet, but I'm so intrigued with the idea. At BookMooch you can: "Type in books you want to give away. Receive requests from others for your books. Mail your books and receive points. Ask for books from others with your points." Talk about win-win!

When I posted about Emily Gravett yesterday, I had yet to read the article about her on Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. I was pretty taken with Little Mouse's Big Book of Fears  and now I can't wait to get my hands on some of these other titles.

And with that, my friends, another week draws to a close. Why not end it on a high note and put a smile on the face of your librarian? Go pick up a picture book and donate it to your local library. I'd love to hear about the reactions you get. Until then, we'll see you back here next week.

Picture Book Thursday: Don't Worry, Be Happy!

Littlemouse Little Mouse's Big Book of Fears
Written and illustrated by Emily Gravett
Ages 4-11

LittlerabbitLittle Rabbit and The Night Mare
Written by Kate Klise
Illustrated by M. Sarah Klise
Ages 3-7

Underbed What's Under the Bed?
Written and illustrated by Joe Fenton
Ages 3-7

Little Mouse's Big Book of Fears
I have to admit, I missed Gravett's book Wolves when it was first published. I'm happy to report, I did not miss Little Mouse. Ms. Gravett uses humor and a clever mix of trompe l'oeil effects to create a story within a story. There are so many different cuts, folds, and fold-outs, that my hands were constantly running over the pages to see what was three dimensional. Meanwhile, Little Mouse's neurotic scribblings kept me in stitches throughout. His "I get edgy near sharp knives," page was particularly amusing. What a treat!

Little Rabbit and The Night Mare
The Klise sisters offer a charming tale of a rabbit who becomes so anxious after being assigned his first report, he begins to suffer from nightmares. Well, a "night mare" to be exact. This horse-like boogie man causes Rabbit no end of anxiety until he faces it down and aces his report, you guessed it, on his nightmare. The animal infused illustrations are well done; I'd call them Garth Williams meets Margaret Wise Brown. This title is a great way to broach nightmares and worries with your students.

What's Under the Bed?
What do you get when you combine a peppy Seussical text with a carefully chosen color palette? Joe Fenton's first, hopefully of many, picture book. Children will find a kindred spirit in Fred and his monster-in-the-dark troubles. The surprise ending is sure to please and leave readers with a smile. FYI: I've found lining up stuffed animals around the perimeter of the bed to be a reliable monster deterrent.

Friday Kid Lit Round-Up

While he didn't technically write any picture books, he sure did have an effect on our language: good, old William Shakespeare apparently had his portrait painted in the early 1600s and there's evidence that the painting is directly of him instead of a copy of another piece of art.  

I would have to say that I agree with the BookChook that Mem Fox is "The Queen of the Read-Aloud."  "Fall in love with the pause," is just one of her "14 Fantastic Hints on Reading Aloud."

I know you've heard the big debate, Harry Potter or Twilight? Well, the Seattle Public Library has decided to take it to the fans as an after-school fundraiser, with panels that will "debate the merits of each series." Nicely done Seattle Public Library!

RIF has done a nice job of creating a collection of read-along stories and songs, including The Eeensy Weensy Spider, The Frog Princess and my personal favorite, Mice-tro Mozart. Try sharing these with students with the help of a whiteboard or projector.

Flashlightreader_large_lg As usual I'm hooked on Flashlight Readers, in particular the Underland Chronicles. The site is loaded with features: a moderated message board, a meet-the-author section, and the Gnawers' Labyrinth to name a few. I can't stop playing with the Creature Creator!

Alrighty then folks. Send me a comment or two and tell me what featured sites or books you've enjoyed. I'm all ears. Until then, have a super weekend and we'll see you back here on Monday. 

Picture Book Thursday: And the Cow Jumped Over the Moon

Icarus Icarus at the Edge of Time
Written by Brian Greene
Art Direction & Design by Chip Kidd
Ages 10-Adult

Moonpowder Moonpowder
Written and Illustrated by John Rocco
Ages 5-8

AlmostastronautsAlmost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream
Written and Illustrated by Tanya Lee Stone
Candlewick Press
Ages 10 and up

Based on this post's title you had a 50/50 shot at guessing this posting's theme. By now you've probably figured out I'm not focusing on our bovine friends but on the moon itself. So, without further ado...

Continue reading "Picture Book Thursday: And the Cow Jumped Over the Moon" »

Friday Kid Lit Round-Up


Hey folks. Glad you could pop in. I think the Batches of Butterflies project at the Eric Carle Museum is so cool! They're asking "friends, families, and schools throughout the country and abroad to create their own butterflies to flutter in the museum." Pop on over to see how to get your butterfly fluttering in the Great Hall. But hurry, they need to get there by the 15th!

All you Percy Jackson fans had better start buttering your popcorn because February 2010 is the release date for the new movie. Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief will star Logan Lerman and Brandon T. Jackson in 20th Century Fox's cinematic delight.

Mir is back at the Kitchen Table with a book review about a serious subject. At one point her daughter asked her about the Holocaust. "That could never happen nowadays, right?" With all that's happening in the world today, it really makes you stop and think.

With all of the book awards flying about lately, my students have become adept at identifying the Caldecott sticker and have been asking me all sorts of questions about it. They got me thinking and Wizards Wireless has the answers. So...."How do Caldecott and Newbery-winning books get their shiny stickers?"

I ran across this title the other day and was positively salivating. Amazon Supplier Loses Warehouse Lease, Invites the Public to Loot Its Books. I know you feel my pain that I wasn't in the UK to participate in this event!

Alrighty folks. I want you all to have a super weekend. Try to take a little time out to hunker down with a good book. And remember to support your local independent book store. They really help to keep the choices rich and... I sound like a coffee commercial. Just go read!

Picture Book Thursday: Bend It Like Beckham

0763633909.med Big Kicks 

Written and illustrated by Bob Kolar
Candlewick Press
Ages 4-6

9780061227790 Pele, King of Soccer
Written by Monica Brown
Illustrated by Rudy Gutierrez
Harper Collins
Ages 8-12

Davy-soccer-star-small Davy, Soccer Star!
Illustrated by Eve Tharlet
Ages 3-8

Hey folks. I thought with all of the drama surrounding Beckham and whether or not he'd stay with Galaxy, you could use some down time with some "good for the soccer soul" picture books.

Big Kicks
The bright and colorful end papers features characters in a postage stamp design and become even more fun and relevant as the book unfolds. With illustrations reminiscent of Henry Hikes to Fitchburg, this story follows the Mighty Giants quest to find a player to help them win the big game. With quirky characters like Chicken Rabbit, Twirly Squirrel, and Fluff the Duck, adults and children will enjoy the story. And while it's not quite a back story, I thoroughly enjoyed the antics of Fluff the Duck as they played out in the background.

Pele, King of Soccer
This bilingual picture book traces soccer king Pele's rise to become one of history's greatest players.  Children will easily relate to the text and stories with quotes like, "Pele loved to play soccer with his friends. They didn't have enough money for a ball, so they used a grapefruit instead. If they couldn't find a grapefruit, they would stuff an old sock with newspapers!"

The colorful pictures impart a sense of energy that lends itself nicely to the subject. There's almost an electric buzz to them, that will keep the attention of students.

Davy, Soccer Star!
Oh that Davy, he's one resourceful rabbit. When his homemade soccer ball is ruined beyond repair, he decides to compete against the Big Bad Badgers to win a new ball. With some practice and training his ragtag team of wild rabbits pulls off a big win and brings home the bacon. (Well, ball actually, but you know what I mean.)

As always, Eve Tharlet provides a series of beyond cute creatures in her super illustrations.  Davy fans will not be disappointed.

Get some warm soapy water and white and black wool. Have students roll the white wool into small soccer balls. When the balls are nearly done, use spots of black to mimic the pattern on a soccer ball. 

For full instructions on felting wool, check out the Crunchy Parent Making a Felted Wool Ball video on YouTube.

Friday's Missing Kid Lit Round-Up

(Note from Amy: Ah technology, you wonderful, wild beast. Jeremy's Friday post resurfaced inexplicably in our What's New blog (a very good blog in its own right. I recommend you check it out if you haven't already). So, here it is, back where it belongs. We're getting piles of snow today. If you are too, hope you're enjoying it curled up with a good book. What's your favorite book for a snowy day?)

Neddiad_interview Hi folks. You can imagine my surprise as I was listening to Car Talk this weekend when who should I hear but that king of NPR kid lit himself, Daniel Pinkwater (read an interview with Pinkwater).  It was a blast to listen to him talk about his search for the perfect car -- see what the winning car was.

Attention all you Grace Lin fans: If you're in the Cambridge area this summer, you're invited to the book launch of Where the Mountain Meets the Moon. A virtual party is in the works as well "with the grand prize being your name or your likeness (or your child's, whatever you prefer) in an upcoming book of mine!," announced Grace Lin.

I'm guessing you haven't had a chance to put much thought into quality manga for kids, but now there's  no need to!  The folks at School Library Journal have done it for you. So go ahead and check out Zelda, Clover, and Kaya  (you know you want to.)

The Red House Children's Book Award nominations have been announced in the UK. Lo and behold, Allan Ahlberg's The Pencil made the cut. Savvy readers will remember that title from my very first post here on the Kid Lit Kit.

And lastly, if you're in the mood for a three-day, two-night trip to New York City then do I have a contest for you. Enter the Share Your Love for Scholastic.com Contest and you might win a trip to visit with the fine folks at Scholastic.

Well, it's that time folks. I need to head off to ready the classroom for another day of kindergarten and field test some new titles for you. Have a super weekend, and we'll see you back here on Monday. 

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in Kid Lit Kit are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.