Mar 31, 2011

Natalie & Naughtily

Natalie & Naughtily

Natalie & Naughtily by Vincent X. Kirsch
Illustrated by Vincent X. Kirsch

     Natalie & Naughtily Nopps are twin sisters that live in house on top of a department store their family owns.  The two sisters might look alike, but they are very different. Natalie is more practical, while Naughtily is more out-there.  On a very busy day at the store, the  twins decide to help and so begins a busy day that will take them one floor at time throughout the whole store.
     The illustrations are very detailed and it's easy to get lost in the drawings for each level inside the department store.  It becomes a whole world to explore.  Natalie & Naughtily brought back memories of spending the day at the large department stores in Madrid.  I think it would be a great read to share with the kids after visiting one of the large department stores in the city. 

Mar 30, 2011

Math Attack

Math Attack! by Joan Horton
Illustrated by Kyrsten Brooker

     I guess I must confess that I'm a complete math geek.  I love math!...just ask my students.  So finding a picture book about math combines my two loves:  words and numbers.  As soon as I spotted Math Attack! at my city library, I knew I had to check it out.
     A girl is in her arithmetic class when her teachers asks her what's 7 times 10.  She tries so hard to come up with the right answer, that her brain explodes and numbers start running all over the place causing all kinds of trouble.  Chaos endures until she finally comes up with the right answer.  Excited about feeling like math had finally clicked in her head, she returns to arithmetic class and says "Hooray, bring it on!"
     I love the fact that the main character in a book about math is a girl and that she ends the story eager to learn more about numbers.  I've spent many a days trying to change my girl students' preconceptions about math.  They see it as a boy subject at which they will never be able to be good at.  We need more read-alouds to debunk that stereotype.  Girls who like math rock!

Mar 29, 2011

Bink and Gollie

Bink and Gollie (Junior Library Guild Selection (Candlewick Press)) (Ala Notable Children's Books. Younger Readers (Awards))

Bink and Gollie by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee
Illustrated by Tony Fucile

     I've been a DiCamillo fan for a long time (Because of Winn Dixie and The Tale of Despereaux are two of my favorite young adult books), so I was excited to come across a picture book of sorts written by her and McGhee.  I say "of sorts" because it has three chapters, so it doesn't really look like your classic picture book, although it reads like one... albeit a long one.   Anyways, Bink and Gollie  is a wonderfully sweet and funny story about two friends who love each other, though they might not always agree on everything.
     Gollie seems to be a bit older than Bink and more mature. Bink is more of a free spirit, while Gollie is more practical.  The dialogue is spot on and their adventures are very endearing.  The illustrations have a Sunday funnies feeling about them that make the two friends seem familiar.  At the end...I didn't want it to end.  I love those two girls. They are, as Bink would say, "marvelous companions".

Mar 28, 2011

The Purple Kangaroo

The Purple Kangaroo by Michael Ian Black
Illustrated by Peter Brown

     "Hey, kid.  Guess what? I've got a supersecret, highly unusual, incredible, and amazing magical power. I can read minds."  Love the beginning of The Purple Kangaroo!  It grabs you from the start with a funky  monkey claiming to know exactly what you're thinking.  The words by Black are hilarious and the illustrations by Brown are a perfect match.
     I had a blast reading it to my boy, he laughed the whole time.
     Viva el Señor Ernesto de Pantalones and the purple kangaroo!

Mar 27, 2011

The Curious Garden

The Curious Garden

The Curious Garden by Peter Brown
Illustrated by Peter Brown

     In a dreary city, with no gardens or trees, a little boy named Liam decides to go outside and explore.  He finds a stairway leading up to abandoned train tracks, where he finds a little "patch of color", a group of wildflowers and plants in dire need of attention.   Liam decides to help the plants and becomes their gardener.  The garden begins to thrive and expand along the train tracks running throughout the city.
     In The Curious Garden, Brown's beautiful illustrations complement a wonderful story about how one boy can help nature transform a whole city.  The story is inspired by an actual garden that sprouted along abandoned train tracks in New York City.  The book will awake the desire to go out and help the environment in all young gardeners.

Mar 26, 2011

How Rocket Learned to Read

How Rocket Learned to Read

How Rocket Learned to Read by Tad Hills
Illustrated by Tad Hills
Ages 3-7

     Rocket just wants to take a nap, but the little bird is ready to start her lesson.  Rocket tries to ignore little bird but soon he finds himself enthralled in the story little bird is reading outloud. So Rocket becomes bird's student and while learning the alphabet and spelling, he enjoys listening to stories...until he learns to read them himself.
     How Rocket Learned to Read connects the power of read alouds to the magic of a teacher whose love of books becomes contagious.  If your Rocket decides he would rather listen to you read than play with bones or take naps, you are sending him down the road to become a lifelong reader.  The love for words starts way before we can read them.

Mar 25, 2011

The Nice Book

The Nice Book by David Ezra Stein
Illustrated by David Ezra Stein

     The first time I read The Nice Book, I was by myself at the library.  It takes about a minute to read the whole book and I only brought it home because I wanted to look at all of David Ezra Stein's books (since I had loved Interrupting Chicken).  I thought it was just ok. But then I read it outloud to my four year old and...he absolutely LOVED IT!  
     Maybe he loved it because we acted it out. We cuddled. We nestled. We tickled each other, scratched each other, squeezed and giggled.  Whatever the reason, he has memorized the book and laughs with delight every time we read it together.  So, as you can imagine, it is now one of my favorites as well.  
     Some lines are funny like "Pat...but don't stomp flat." Others are poetic and philosophical. And all of them flow with ease paired up with simple but beautiful images.  Great book to read and give to someone Nice.

Mar 24, 2011

The Princess Knight

The Princess Knight

The Princess Knight by Cornelia Funke
Illustrated by Kerstin Meyer
2001 (First American Edition 2004)

     Violetta's mother, the Queen, died after giving birth to her.  The King is used to training his three sons to be brave knights and doesn't know what to do with Violetta.  So he decides to teach her the same lessons he taught his sons.   The problem is that Violetta is tiny and clumsy and they all make fun of  her.  Violetta starts practicing alone at night.  The King decides to marry Violetta off to the knight that wins a tournament.  Soon all of her new skills will be put to a test as she shows her true worth.
     The Princess Knight is a story about finding your inner strength, believing in yourself and not falling into a mold.  Violetta is a great character to expose to young girls and to read to boys to defeat the stereotype of the weak girl. 

Mar 23, 2011

Born to Read

Born to Read by Judy Sierra
Illustrated by Marc Brown

     Little Sam was born to read.  As a baby, he saw his name spelled above his crib and just knew "My name is Sam. I'm born to read. I know I am."  As the years go by he becomes a super reader, reading everywhere about everything.  Born to Read is a great book to share with your favorite little reader.  It's about the love and power of reading.  While the story jumps around a bit, the main point is "Yes, readers can go anyplace!"
     Kids will love recognizing some of their favorite books in the hands of Sam.  My son wouldn't let me go on to the next page until he could point out all the books he knew, " 'Cause I'm also a good reader Mom!" Gotta love four year olds...what they don't know, they just make up...

Mar 22, 2011

Ladybug Girl

Ladybug Girl

Ladybug Girl by Jacky Davis and David Soman
Illustrated by Jacky Davis

     Chances are you've seen a Ladybug Girl book at the library or the bookstore.  There is a now at least five of them out there (including one being released tomorrow Ladybug Girl and the Bug Squad).  The thing is, I was very hesitant to pick it up because I'm practically allergic to girlie books...I'm talking about the pink, glitter and princess obsession of the last couple of years...So, I gotta admit, that the Ladybug Girl was a very pleasant surprise.
     Lulu (a.k.a. Ladybug) wants to play with her older brother, but he won't include her in his baseball game because she's too little.  Her parents are busy, so she decides to go explore outside and soon realizes that she's not that little and she can have adventures on her own.  She's a very likable character, adventurous, creative and original.  The illustrations are sweet and really help develop Lulu's personality through great facial expressions.  I'm definitely a fan of Ladybug Girl now, and I'm thrilled to have found a book with a cool girl doing the exploring.

Mar 21, 2011

Waking Up Wendell

Waking Up Wendell by April Stevens
Illustrated by Tad Hills

     "Early in the morning, a little bird at #1 Fish Street hops out of her nest, takes a deep breath, and begins to sing a very loud and whistley song. TWEET-TWEET-TA-TA-TA-TWEET..." And so it begins, a chain reaction that takes us past every house down Fish Street, waking each neighbor and pet in a row with all kids of sounds.
    Walking Up Wendell is a fun story to teach sequence of events, cause and effect, numbers (the house numbers are also listed in order), and onomatopoeia (all the different noises that wake each character up).  Its illustrations are cheery and bright like the morning on Fish Street.  The story will keep kids guessing who will wake up next.

Mar 20, 2011

Chicken Cheeks

Chicken Cheeks

Chicken Cheeks by Michael Ian Black
Illustrated by Kevin Hawkes

     Let me start by saying that my soon to be 4 year-old son is totally obsessed with the word "booty" (and unfortunately, he's not talking about the pirate kind).  To him everybody is a booty-head and every funny sentence must be closed with the word "booty."  So in his honor, I guess, I'm including Chicken Cheeks.
     In Chicken Cheeks, a group of animals climb on top of each other to reach a beehive brimming with honey.  Ian Black finds a thousand ways of referring to all the different animal's booties in a very clever way.  Funny book to read aloud and share with all the booty-heads out there!
     On a side note, I've joined the Read Around the World Challenge.  The challenge is to read books from all over the world.  I've decide to try to reach the Marco Polo Level (Read 35 or more books by authors from countries on 4 or more different continents). I can't wait to get started:

Mar 19, 2011

The Tickle Tree

The Tickle Tree by Chae Strathie
Illustrated by Poly Bernatene

     The Tickle Tree is a beautifully illustrated lyrical bedtime story.  A parent asks his young boy whether he has seen a Tickle Tree, or a giant galumph, or walked with a wibblebird, or scratched an old crabbysnap...and he promises the boy he'll see all of those magical characters once he goes to the land of dreams.
     The illustrations help transport the young readers to a dream like place, filled with magical creatures and awesome experiences.  The rhythm of its verses turn the book into a sweet lullaby perfect for bedtime.

Mar 18, 2011

The Giant Ball of String

The Giant Ball of String

The Giant Ball of String by Arthur Geisert
Illustrated by Arthur Geisert

     The pigs from Rumpus Ridge are very proud of their ball of string.  It's the biggest one in the world and people from all over come to see it.  One day, during a big storm the ball is washed away down the river to the town of Cornwall.  The Cornwallers take the ball of string and claim as their own.  But the Rumpus Ridge pigs have a plan to get it back...
     The Giant Ball of String shows the importance of being resourceful and ingenious as well as the strength that comes from teamwork.  Geisert plans like a Mousetrap designer and we get to enjoy discovering all the details of the pigs' plans through his illustrations.
     The illustrations give a beautiful portray of village life and will provide many opportunities to find new details during each read.

Mar 17, 2011


Shadow by Suzy Lee
Illustrated by Suzy Lee

     Click! The light goes on in the attic and a girl turns on her imagination as she starts to play with the shadows of old toys, boxes and discarded household tools.  Shadow is an amazing book!  Its pages are meant to be looked at in landscape orientation; they open horizontally allowing the crease of the book to become a physical division between the girl's real world on the top page and the world of shadows on the bottom.  Eventually, her imagination brings the shadows to life and soon the two "worlds" become one.  There is no text and it doesn't need it.  This is the kind of book you'll want to own and look at over and over again.