Saturday, December 31, 2016

Around America to Win the Vote: Two Suffragists, a Kitten, and 10,000 Miles

Recently, there was a hashtag that I found quite disturbing #Repealthe19th.  {As with several of my other posts, you can tell that I wrote this pre-election and published it later} This was following a poll that indicated a presidential candidate would likely win if only men voted.  Fortunately, women live in this democracy.  But this trending hashtag showed that there were women willing to give up their vote if it ensured their candidate’s success.  I am proud to live in a country that values the votes of ALL the people.  And “Around America to Win the Vote” opens a window to the historical moments that helped carve the decision around the 19th Amendment.  What I hadn’t known about the fight for women’s right to vote was that many states had started independently adopting this protection.  Indeed, a woman was elected to Congress before the right was awarded country-wide.  Hadley Hooper injects yellow into her illustrations as that was the color of the movement.  Sometimes it pops, as in the spread where Alice and Nell are braving a blizzard in their Golden Flier.  In another spread, it feels like a sea of yellow, and therefore a sea of support at the South Carolina all-yellow lunch.  Mara Rockliff narrows the story in to focus on both the trials and successes of the long journey.

Title: Around America to Win the Vote: Two Suffragists, a Kitten, and 10,000 Miles
Author: Mara Rockliff
Illustrator: Hadley Hooper
Published 2016 by Candlewick Press
ISBN: 978-0-7636-7893-7

This copy was borrowed from the public library for purpose of review.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Tiny Stitches: The Life of Medical Pioneer Vivien Thomas

What a remarkable story of hard work and selflessness.  Gwendolyn Hooks lays out details of Viven’s early life, including his experience with his master carpenter father, saving for the future and watching it all disappear during the stock market crash.  Vivian worked as a researcher at Vanderbilt University in an effort to get one step closer to medical school.  He fought discrimination and injustices related to the color of his skin both there and at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore.  Gwendolyn Hooks explains from beginning to end how the pieces fell into place in Vivien’s life that he was able to learn so much about surgery, all without having earned a degree from a university, so much so that he taught many world famous surgeons and pioneered open heart surgery in babies.

Title: Tiny Stitches: The Life of Medical Pioneer Vivien Thomas
Author: Gwendolyn Hooks
Illustrator: Colin Bootman
Published 2016 by Lee and Low Books Inc.
ISBN: 9781620141564

This copy was borrowed from the public library for purpose of review.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Plants Can’t Sit Still

I love Mia Posada’s illustrations of the many movements of plants.  The endpapers show the life cycle of a dandelion from start to finish to start again with seeds floating down to the ground.  Reading from a teacher’s perspective, this book would be PERFECT for introducing or highlighting active verbs.  The text of the action words are even highlighted with different colored text.  Pair that objective with a study of seeds and this text hits a number of different targets.  I’d love to read this and explore plant motion in nature or watch (or even better, create!) videos using time lapse technology to show the motion sped up.

The fact that Rebecca Hirsch lives in State College makes me think she might be a future author to invite for a visit at our school!

Title: Plants Can’t Sit Still
Author: Rebecca E. Hirsch
Illustrator: Mia Posado
Published 2016 by Hillbrook Press
ISBN: 9781467780315

This copy was borrowed from the public library for purpose of review.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Prairie Dog Song

In a word, gorgeous.  From the information about the author on the back dust jacket flap, “About the illustrations for this book, Roth says, “I cut blade after blade of grass to fill the prairies.  I guess I cut about fifty billion.”  The work that goes into creating the illustrations for a book like this is impressive.  Roth never fails to disappoint with her cut paper collage work.  The texture is palpable.  The story crafted by Roth and Trombone is beautiful, then heartbreaking and finally hopeful all at once.  The sources are extensive and the backwater including the song lyrics and music; fun facts about prairie dogs; and further information about the Janos Grasslands are very helpful for the reader who wants more.  The double text makes this easy to digest for both younger and older readers alike.  Well done!

Title: Prairie Dog Song
Author: Susan L. Roth and Cindy Trombone
Illustrator: Susan L. Roth
Published 2016 by Lee and Low Books Inc.
ISBN: 978-1-62014-245-5

This copy was borrowed from the public library for purpose of review.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Whose Hands Are These: A Community Helper Guessing Book

For many of my CYBILS books, I try to incorporate reading them aloud with my daughter and son at bedtime.  My daughter and son are both quite selective in their book choices.  For example, my dino loving son has been enjoying Dining with Dinos.  I read “A Community Helper Guessing Book” with my daughter and she loved it!  She enjoyed the rhyming guessing game portion and asked to read the book several times that first night.  I enjoyed the inclusion of a variety of community helpers that might not normally be included in a book like this, for example scientists, potters, and news reporters.  I really liked the inclusion of many genders and races in each of the community helper roles and the author’s note.  The use of words like physician in lieu of doctor was also a great vocabulary builder because my second grader was stumped even though she knew what some of the jobs were, she also knew the expectation was a rhyming word.  I think this drove her desire to read it again and get it “right.”  Whatever her motivation, I love any book she wants to read again and again.

Title: Whose Hands Are These: A Community Helper Guessing Book
Author: Miranda Paul
Illustrator: Luciana Navarro Powell
Published 2016 by Millbrook Press
ISBN: 978-1-4677-5214-5

This copy was borrowed from the public library for purpose of review.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Crossing Niagara: The Death-Defying Tightrope Adventures of the Great Blondin

Matt Tavares never disappoints and Crossing Niagara is no different.  There is a spread with double pages folded that open up to create a longer spread, the perfect way to illustrate the different feats that the “Great Blondin” achieved while crossing a tightrope over Niagara Falls.  The facial expressions of both Blondin and his manager, Harry Colcord, his first “volunteer” to ride on his back show that this was truly no easy feat.  I’d imagine the fact that Harry wasn’t prepared in the least made it more impressive to the audience, but also far more dangerous.  I was interested in the way the “guy ropes” stabilized the line.  It seems like such a feat just to set up the tightrope properly, let alone walk or do tricks across it.  An author’s note and selected bibliography accompany the text and offer the reader more information about where Tavares located his information to craft such a dazzling tale.

Title: Crossing Niagara: The Death-Defying Tightrope Adventures of the Great Blondin
Author and Illustrator: Matt Tavares 
Published 2016 by Candlewick Press
ISBN: 978-0-7636-6823-5

This copy was borrowed from the public library for purpose of review.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

The Hole Story of the Doughnut

Vincent X. Kirsch’s bright and colorful illustrations are perfect for The Hole Story of the Doughnut.  Today’s doughnuts are bright and beautiful and food dye sugar laden but the reality of the timeframe when Hanson Crockett Gregory really invented the doughnut were probably a bit darker and more muted in palette.  Nonetheless, I think the bright and cartoonish illustration style will draw young readers in to the story of an unlikely seafarer’s invention.  Fans of Arnie the Doughnut will no doubt love the endpapers.  The design choices including nautical rope surrounding the summary and about the author section as well as selected illustrations adds to the feeling of being on a ship.  I’m pretty sure the round layout with both words and illustrations is due to the shape of the doughnut but, it works pretty well that portholes are the same shape.  No space is wasted with details surrounding the round layouts.  I like that the simple and straightforward story is shared, but so are the legends with tales spun by sailors.  The author’s note also includes the controversy with others claiming the invention as their own.  The timeline lays out the events in chronological order (as timelines often do) and the Selected Bibliography shows that the author used some credible sources, many of which are books that curious readers might want to check out.  The author Pat Miller notes that a side comment about where Gregory was buried sparked her interest to journey down this rabbit hole (donut hole?!) to the story we find presented.  I love it and I hope readers will too!

Title: The Hole Story of the Doughnut
Author: Pat Miller
Illustrator:Vincent X. Kirsch
Published 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
ISBN: 978-0-544-31961-5

This copy was received from the publisher for purposes of review.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Insects as Producers

I think cochineal dye was what really sparked me to want to write about this book.  The book itself lays out good information in a digestible (no pun intended) way.  I have seen cochineal extract listed as an ingredient and assumed it was a plant extract.  My mistake!  The cochineal is an insect and you find its extract/dye in such products as lipstick, yogurt, candy, ice cream, and other beverages.  So, to sum that one up, enjoy smearing crushed bugs on your lips when you apply your shocking red lipstick.  You learn something new everyday!

Likewise, I would not have guessed that shellac and other resins come from the lac insect and I DEFINITELY wouldn’t have guessed that it makes up the shiny candy coating on many a shiny coated candy.

A bibliography or other denoting of sources would be helpful for readers wanting to learn more.  Three websites are listed, but not necessarily as the sources used for information for the book’s text.

Title: Insects as Producers
Author: Annette Whipple
Published 2017 by Rourke Educational Media
ISBN: 978-1-68191-697-2

This copy was received from the publisher for purpose of review.

Friday, December 23, 2016

If You Are a Kaka, You Eat Doo Doo and Other Poop Tales from Nature

So, what I’ve learned recently (and maybe always knew) was that kids love to read about poop.  I think what they really, really like is hearing their school librarian say the word “poop” and so, I do.  The other day, a student typed poop into the library catalog, much the same way we all looked up choice words in the dictionary once upon a time.  And he (for it was a he) was shocked.  SHOCKED.  Shocked, I tell you to find two results.  And he brought the iPad to me, demanding we find these poop books.  For those intrigued by the poop offerings in our library, they include:

Poopendous!  The Inside Scoop on Every Type and Use of Poop! by Artie Bennett (a former CYBILS nominee)

Rabbits Eat Their Own Poop: And Other Facts About Animals by Jan Payne and Steven Wilder

And they are both still checked out today.  And isn’t that the point really?  They will soon be joined by two of this year’s new titles, including:

If You are a Kaka, You Eat Doo Doo and Other Poop Tales From Nature by Sara Martel

Poop Detectives by Ginger Wadsworth

These books will be in good company and likely will be instant celebrities in our elementary school library.  But I digress.  Is it any good?  Yes, of course!  I’m taking the time to write a blog post, aren’t I?!

For starters, the cover features a hand holding a magnifying glass which reveals a close up picture showing flies and other critters that like to help poop decompose.

Interested in the title?  A kaka is a type of bird and the doo-doo they are eating is really honeydew, the poo of scale insects.

There are a great number of fun facts about a variety of animals and their behaviors as they relate to poo.  The only drawback to this book is the absence of sources.  The author, Sara Martel, does appear to be an expert in her field.  And yet, the inclusion of sources helps to support the credibility of the factoids she included in the text.

Title: If You are a Kaka, You Eat Doo Doo and Other Poop Tales from Nature
Author: Sara Martel
Illustrator: Sara Lynn Cramb
Published 2016 by Tillbury House Publishers
ISBN: 9780884484882

This copy was received from the publisher for purpose of review.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Glow: Animals with their Own Nightlights

I am a big fan of this type of nonfiction book.  There is slightly larger text at the top with more detailed text near the bottom.  This book can be read with just the larger text to a smaller child or with the greater detail to a child with interest.  I find it helpful for myself as an adult too, in answering questions about the phenomenal photographs.  This particular topic about creatures, many of whom live in the deepest crevices of the sea and the photographs that were able to be captured are absolutely awesome.  To think of the equipment needed and the depths (and luck) in order to get these shots is awe inspiring.  Not all of the photographs were taken under the sea.  The panel with the glow worms in New Zealand so represents a star splashed sky that it is astonishing to think that it is the ceiling of a cave.  At the end of the book, there are thumbnail photos with further details of each creature followed by a bibliography.  This book makes for a great addition to any library with curious readers (which describes all of the libraries I know).

Title: Glow: Animals with their Own Nightlights
Author: W. H. Beck
Published 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
ISBN: 978-0-544-41666-6

This copy was received from the publisher for review.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Giant Squid

In a word, gorgeous.  I like to think photographs often portray wild animals best and most accurately, but when dealing with the elusive giant squid, Eric Rohmann proves me wrong.  I love that the first three spreads of text and illustration precede the title page.  Kind of a mysterious introduction to the topic.  You know it’s coming, based on the title and the cover, but it’s still somewhat startling.  I enjoyed the poetic progression of the story as well as the labelled diagram of a squid that follows.  The further explanation of the mystery of the giant squid and the somewhat astonishing fact that it was never, NEVER seen until 2006 and never captured on film until 2012 are really…well, astonishing.  I’m interested to check out the videos cited along with the bibliography.

Title: Giant Squid
Author: Candace Fleming
Illustrator: Eric Rohmann
Published 2016 by Roaring Brook Press
ISBN: 9781596435995

This copy was received from the publisher for review.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Seven and a Half Tons of Steel

Thomas Gonzalez’s artwork in Seven and a Half Tons of Steel is gorgeous but I especially love his skyscapes, and specifically the endpaper at the back with the statue of liberty’s raised hand against a sunset of the New York City skyline.  This spread most reminded me of his beautiful work in 14 Cows for America.  Janet Nolan weaves a beautiful story of the steel beam taken from the fallen World Trade Center and forged into the bow of the USS New York.  The fact that the building took place in New Orleans and work was stalled due to Hurricane Katrina, but not stopped, is a testament to the workers tenacity to get the job done.  The USS New York’s crest’s symbolism is detailed in the notes at the back of the book and the remarkable combination of details made me want to learn more about the crests of other ships on our Navy’s fleet.

Title: Seven and a Half Tons of Steel
Author: Janet Nolan
Illustrator: Thomas Gonzalez
Published 2016 by Peachtree
ISBN: 978-1-56145-912-4

This copy was received from the publisher to review.

Monday, December 19, 2016

The Music In George’s Head: George Gershwin Creates Rhapsody in Blue

The Music In George’s Head reminds me of The Noisy Paint Box except for the fact that Gershwin’s family supported his art.  Besides his revolutionary style and seemingly similar blue period, I wonder if he also had synesthesia.  His ability to absorb music from all around him makes me think so.  The text and fonts throughout reflect what is being communicated.  For example, unpredictable is fonted rather unpredictably.  Complete with the author’s note, illustrator’s note, timeline and bibliography, The Music In George’s Head was well researched and composed.

Similar to my review of Cloth Lullaby, this review was completed prior to a trip to Washington DC.  One of the parts of my trip was a tour with the official historian of the Library of Congress.  And what should I find in the LOC but a room dedicated to George Gershwin!  Here’s his piano.

Title: The Music In George’s Head: George Gershwin Creates Rhapsody in Blue
Author: Suzanne Slade
Illustrator:Stacy Innerst
Published 2016 by Calkins Creek
ISBN: 978-1-62979-099-2

This copy was received from the publisher to review.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Be the Change: A Grandfather Gandhi Story

“Be the change you wish to see in the world” is a quote that has always inspired me.  When I see a problem in a current situation, I try to think about how I might be able to make a change for the better.  This story of time spent by Arun Gandhi at his grandfather’s Ashram Sevagram details how passive violence leads to physical violence and how waste is an example of passive violence.  Evan Turk’s illustrations are unique, as always, and fitting to the story.  Throughout, I noticed stitching as part of the illustrations as mixed media and think of it as a common thread that connects the story.

Title: Be The Change: A Grandfather Gandhi Story
Author: Arun Gandhi and Bethany Hegedus
Illustrator: Evan Turk
Published 2016 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers
ISBN: 978-1-4814-4265-7

This copy was received from the publisher to review.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Let Your Voice Be Heard: The Life and Times of Pete Seeger

Pete Seeger’s childhood influences included his parents, namely his father and his eye opening experience in California and motivation to help migrant workers access basic rights and sanitary working and living conditions and his family’s travels through Appalachia with the goal to expose the people there to classical music.  Instead, as is often the case, the Seeger’s, notably Pete, was influenced by the folk music he heard while they travelled.

Anita Silvey weaves a story together highlighting many high and low points in Pete’s life, all of them instrumental in marking the path he walked in life and the legacy he left for music lovers and fighters for justice.  Her table of contents defines moments in Pete’s life.

Anita Silvey includes an extensive Bibliography as well as source notes indicating where each quote originated.  

Title: Let Your Voice Be Heard: The Life and Times of Pete Seeger
Author: Anita Silvey
Published 2016 by Clarion Books
ISBN: 978-0-547-33012-9

This copy was received from the publisher to review.

Friday, December 16, 2016

The Kid from Diamond Street: The Extraordinary Story of Edith Houghton

I’m a sucker for a local story and I live in a Philadelphia suburb so I’m exited to track down more information about Edith Houghton and her Philadelphia roots.  This story is an inspiration for both women and children looking to realize a dream.  Edith was playing professional baseball at the age of 10!  The opportunity to play with the team “The Bobbies” took her across the ocean to play baseball in Japan.  The title including the word “extraordinary” really captures that something about Edith.  Even in a world where there was a women’s team, it was the only one around and she was the youngest player by far.  The author’s note provides more information about Edith’s life after The Bobbies and includes that her teammate Nettie Gans kept a diary.  We might be able to assume Audrey Vernick used Gans’ diary or the many newspaper clippings about Edith Houghton as sources but sources are not specifically cited for the reader to understand where her research originated.

Title: The Kid from Diamond Street: The Extraordinary Story of Edith Houghton
Author: Audrey Vernick 
Illustrator: Steven Salerno
Published 2016 by Clarion Books
ISBN:  9780544611634

This copy was received from the publisher to review.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Slowest Book Ever

The Slowest Book Ever is a fast read but I decided to take my time with it, more due to circumstances than interest.  The book is organized by slow nature thoughts, slow animal thoughts, slow plant facts, slow body stuff, slow geology facts, slow stuff, slow arts, slow activities to try, outer space sciences, and (my favorite) two pages on which to rest your face followed by a glossary of chewy words, excruciatingly slow acknowledgements, and a not-exactly-the-end-notes which includes source information organized by the section the information is featured in the book.  Wrapping my brain around the amount of research needed to piece this book together takes my brain more than a few slow moments.  The humor that April Pulley Sayre injects into the factual information is fantastic and Kelly Murphy can clearly slowly draw a sloth or two or seventeen.  The illustrations add to the humor of The Slowest Book Ever.  At the SLJ Leadership Summit during a focus group, I spoke about The Slowest Book Ever and librarians around the table were grappling to get their hands on it.  I predict great things for The Slowest Book Ever.  All in due time, of course.

Title: The Slowest Book Ever 
Author: April Pulley Sayre
Illustrator: Kelly Murphy
Published 2016 by Boyds Mills Press
ISBN: 978-1-62091-783-1

This copy was received from the publisher to review.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

One North Star: A Counting Book

Unlike many other counting books and cumulative counting books, specifically, I assumed this book might count backwards including the first animal.  For example, including either One North Star or one moose a’la Partridge in a Pear Tree style, but Phyllis Root surprised me by presenting cumulatively, i.e. counting to a new number each page but also back down through the numbers, but did so with aplomb to try to focus on different areas of Minnesota, the North Star State.  Beckie Prange and Betsy Bowen’s illustrations are gorgeous.  There is further information about the featured animals and plants from the book but absent is a bibliography or source information.

Title: One North Star: A Counting Book
Author: Phyllis Root
Illustrator: Beckie Prange & Betsy Bowen
Published 2016 by University of Minnesota Press
ISBN: 978-0-8166-5063-7

This copy was received from the publisher to review.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark

This story is powerfully told and the big takeaway for me is that we can disagree without disliking each other.  From the beginning, Ruth Bader Ginsburg had strong opinions about right and wrong (and right and left).  I can wholly relate to her protest at school when she was encouraged to write with her right hand even though she was left handed.  The exact same thing happened to me.  In my class, there was a statistically inordinate number of left handed students and the teacher decided that just couldn’t be right (get it?!).  She had us in the hallway to drill writing with our right hands, just to check.  In the end I was, and still am, left handed.  Elizabeth Baddeley’s word art helps enhance the story with the words of dissent and disagreement jumping right off the page.  RBG overcame adversity to earn her seat on the Supreme Court and continues to serve our country there to this day.

Title: I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark
Author: Debbie Levy
Illustrator: Elizabeth Baddeley
Published 2016 by Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers

This copy was received from the publisher to review.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Nadia: The Girl Who Couldn’t Sit Still

Following the Olympics of Simone Biles and the Final Five, this picture book biography is a fitting tribute to Nadia Comaneci and Marta and Bela Karolyi’s First.  For young gymnasts, the progression of skills will translate across borders and Christine Davenier’s illustrations show that well, specifically the panel with Nadia’s progress from cartwheeling on a line on the mats all the way up to the higher balance beam.  In knowing Nadia’s history, I was aware that she scored a perfect ten but I was not aware that the electronic system was not equipped to display that score.  What an oversight in planning!  Davenier’s illustrations show movement well, including the swoops and multiple poses, even down to Nadia’s hands waving at the crowd once she was awarded her first (of 7) tens.  I give this book a ten too!  

Title: Nadia: The Girl Who Couldn’t Sit Still
Author: Karlin Gray
Illustrator: Christine Davenier
Published 2015 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
ISBN: 978-0-544-31960-8

This copy was received from the publisher to review.

Sunday, December 11, 2016


Sue Whiting incorporates a melodic story of the platypus accompanied by more specific facts about platypus(es) platypi?  Plural of platypus - and, go.  As is indicated, the platypus is still quite puzzling, one of only two monotremes, or egg-laying mammals.  Mark Jackson’s illustrations are gorgeous.  Or at least as gorgeous as one can categorize a book about platypus.  The exclusion of a bibliography or another indication of sources is disappointing as a great deal of good information is included in this text that can be enjoyed by many a platypus lover.

For anyone interested, because I obviously was.  According to wikipedia (I know, I know, but on this particular topic, it seemed as good a source as any): “Scientists generally use “platypuses” or simply “platypus”.  Colloquially, the term “platypi” is also used for the plural, although this is technically incorrect and a form of pseudo-Latin; the correct Greek plural would be “platypodes”.”  Well then.  I’m kind of liking platypi, but that was before I knew platypuses was an option.

Title: Platypus
Author: Sue Whiting
Illustrator: Mark Jackson
Published 2015 by Candlewick Press
ISBN: 978-0-7636-8098-5

This copy was received from the publisher to review.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Hillary Rodham Clinton: Some Girls Are Born to Lead

I typed this prior to the November, 2016 election.  I did not want to publish it prior to the election.  It continues to ring true regardless of the outcome that this picture book biography is a beautiful one that highlights the life of a remarkable leader. 
Obviously, this picture book biography is a timely one.  Like so many around the country, I have been doing my research on all of the candidates and this book does an excellent job of summing up much of what I have learned about HRC’s long and multi-faceted history.  I had read about her college graduation speech and time spent as class president at Wellsley but was not aware of examples, even from her young childhood, of working for justice.  As I read this book to my daughter, she exclaimed, “Did she really do all of these things?”  And I was proud to reply, “Yes.”  Michelle Markel does an excellent job of highlighting anecdotes from Hillary’s youth, her accomplishments, and trials.  

I am a big fan of LeUyen Pham’s illustrations having first noted her attention to detail in The Boy Who Loved Math about the life of Paul Erdos and I continue to be a fan of her work in The Princess in Black series by Shannon Hale.  In reading her bio in this book, I hadn’t even realized that she also illustrated both Grace for President and Freckleface Strawberry.  All that to say what stands out to me in these illustrations from the start is her use of muted colors for other people and bright colors for Hillary.  In a sense, she was living in a very black and white world and looks to change that.  To change the role of women in many different arenas.  As time passes, the environment around her changes too.  Others catch on and move forward.  I love the illustration featuring the transparent ghost of Eleanor Roosevelt, one of Clinton’s inspirations.

The attention to detail by both Pham and Markel and thorough Timeline, Artist’s Notes, and Selected Bibliography all support their decisions on what to include in this exemplary picture book biography.

Title: Hillary Rodham Clinton: Some Girls Are Born to Lead
Author: Michelle Markel
Illustrator: LeUyen Pham
Published 2016 by Balzer + Bray
ISBN: 978-0-06-238122-4

This copy was received from the publisher to review.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Kid Artists: True Tales of Childhood from Creative Legends

So, I am JUST about to start reading but before I began, I flipped to the back to check if there were sources listed.  And there WERE!  Yay!  Last year, I read Kid Presidents.  And I LOVED it!  What I didn’t love was that there was no bibliography included.  So, before starting, I am already excited to see this included.  The bar is high for this one.  Stay tuned.

Yep.  Bar reached and exceeded.  LOVE LOVE LOVE IT.  I don’t even know what else to say.  You all have to read it, and keep an eye on this series.  Kids will love the kid artists.  Check out the presidents too.  Like I said, super fun book, I was just disappointed with the lacking sources.  I also have to backtrack to find Kid Athletes and check that out as well.  Kid Legends makes for a great series of books.  I'm excited to see what might come next!

I really enjoyed the variety of artists presented and the anecdotes from their childhood that helped inform their art and lifestyle.  Doogie Horner’s comic style illustrations add humor to even the most desolate situations, like that of Louise Nevelson (Leah Berliawsky) who went from an overcrowded ocean liner full of refugees to a literal kid in a candy store once arriving in a quarantine in Liverpool, England.  David Stabler knows just the right moments of each kid artist’s life to highlight to keep the reader turning the pages to find out more, like when Jackson Pollock’s brother cut the tip of his finger off with an axe (by ACCIDENT).  Kids love reading about overcoming odds.  And bodily harm.  This book is a win on both fronts!  I often see these types of books as jumping off points for reluctant readers.  After reading short stories about these artists, they’ll be ready to read more!

Title: Kid Artists: True Tales of Childhood from Creative Legends
Author: David Stabler
Illustrator: Doogie Horner
Published 2016 by Quirk Productions, Inc.

ISBN: 978-1-59474-896-7
This copy was received from the publisher for review.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Living Fossils: Clues to the Past

SO COOL.  Let me begin again.  I really thought my dinosaur obsessed son would love this but since there weren’t actual dinosaurs, he was not a fan.  He didn’t quite get that these creatures lived with the dinosaurs.  But I did.  And I think it is so cool.  I’ve thought often about birds as the direct ancestors of some vicious dinosaurs.  Particularly when thinking of our trip to Disney last spring.  My son (same one) and I were dining outside of the cafe area at our resort and birds were dive bombing him to try and snatch french fries.  We had to flee to the indoors to protect ourselves and it was scary.  Granted they were going for the fries, but it seemed as if they wouldn’t let a pesky 2 year old get in their way.  The instincts were there.  

Likewise, many of these “living fossils” (a controversial term among scientists, apparently) had developed defenses that didn’t need much to adapt further in order to survive.  They’d survived what many others hadn’t already, so why change?

Towards the end of the book, there is an additional section with more information about each of the living fossils that seems a bit redundant.  There are books and websites included for more information.

Title:  Living Fossils: Clues to the Past
Author: Caroline Arnold
Illustrator: Andrew Plant
Published 2016 by Charlesbridge
ISBN:  978-1-58089-691-7

This copy was received from the publisher for review.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

To The Stars: The First American Woman To Walk in Space

While Kathy Sullivan was not the first woman in space, she WAS the first to walk in space.  Carmella Van Vleet’s style of writing Kathy Sullivan’s story is perfection.  I love how she flips from her childhood to adulthood with parallels drawn from specific experience.  The story is not linear and yet it is complete.  Likewise, Nicole Wong’s illustrations bring to life what doesn’t need to be stated in the text.  For example “Years later Kathy studies another instrument panel.”  And the accompanying illustration shows the panel within a rocket.  Because Kathy Sullivan helped co-write the story, a bibliography is not included.  As a teacher, I think of this book as an opportunity to highlight nonfiction with primary source usage.  Kathy herself!  She also includes a note that I found inspirational and Carmella Van Vleet includes further information about Kathy and highlights other firsts for women in space.  Overall, this book is the total package, a good text for young and older readers alike and can be the springboard for discussions or further research on space travel.

Title:  To The Stars: The First American Woman To Walk in Space
Author: Carmella Van Vleet and Dr. Kathy Sullivan
Illustrator: Nicole Wong
Published 2016 by Charlesbridge
ISBN: 978-1-58089-644-3

This copy was received from the publisher for review.