Tag Archives: picture book

Planning ahead

4 May

Yesterday afternoon, the Oregon Basset Hound Rescue Board met for our first meeting to plan the 2015 Oregon Basset Hound Games. The mayor of Woodburn was there, too. She is a very down to Earth basset owner and loves that her town hosts the Games. Last year we added a new event, the Senior Prom, a race for senior bassets. It had people in stitches because, as we had hoped, several dogs refused to go anywhere. We are always on the lookout for new events to add. I am not taking any ideas from this book,


Worst in Show written by William Bee and illustrated by Kate Hindley.

Albert has decided to enter his pet Monster, Sidney, in the Best Pet Monster int he World Competition. It had fantastic events like Hairiest Warts, Highest Hover, Most Parasites, Smelliest Fart, and Hottest Breath. “Goodness, the Embarrassment” Albert laments as Sidney loses event after event. But Albert’s embarrassment is turned to joy at the end when Sidney wins Worst in Show for earning the lowest score in 100 years.

This is a fun book that can easily inspire kids to write their own topsy-turvy story. Alas, it won’t inspire any new events to the OBHR Games.


Yard Sale by Eve Bunting

27 Apr


At Friday’s PD workshop, someone commented that Fly Away Home by Eve Bunting was so sad. It is, but it is also filled with hope. In writing we are using Bunting’s book The Wall, to talk about a time we lost something. 

Bunting’s new book, Yard Sale, is equally as poignant as the two books above. But, also like them, there is hope and community.

Publisher’s Summary: Almost everything Callie’s family owns is spread out in their front yard—their furniture, their potted flowers, even Callie’s bike. They can’t stay in this house, so they’re moving to an apartment in the city. The new place is “small but nice,” Mom says, and most of their things won’t fit, so today they are having a yard sale. But it’s kind of hard to watch people buy your stuff, even if you understand why it has to happen. With sensitivity and grace, Eve Bunting and Lauren Castillo portray an event at once familiar and difficult, making clear that a home isn’t about what you have, but whom you hold close.

Like many of Bunting’s books, Yard Sale tackles real life problems in a way that will get kids thinking.

Today’s Pre-Invention Convention Read Aloud

23 Apr


Reading about Chester Greenwood yesterday got the kids thinking about things they use that can be improved. Today, our read aloud looks at Ben Franklin inventions that are still around because the basic design was good. His ideas have just been improved.

Now & Ben : The Modern Inventions of Benjamin Franklin, written and illustrated by Gene Barretta, features two page spreads that show a modern invention on the left and the Ben Franklin original on the right.


The text explanations are simple but point out how Ben Franklin is still relevant today.The end pages playfully depict various inventions of Franklin and the year that they were invented.

This book is an excellent tool to add to an inventor’s toolbox.

The Blues

12 Sep

I finally finished my Back to School Socks and the temperature is on the rise again. Here they are.

IMG_1737 IMG_1738

I am excited for the temperature to drop for many reasons, including the opportunity to wear these.

I came across a lovely little book recently, Bluebird by Lindsey Yankey. It is actually a large book, 12″ x 9″, but tells a sweet story in a gentle way, and the artwork is excellent.


In poetic language, Yankey tells the story of a little bird, who fears he cannot fly because his friend, Wind, is not there. He sets off on a mission to find Wind. As the little bluebird searches for his friend, we get to see where he lives. There are beautiful details ion both words and pictures. Everywhere the little bluebird goes, things are still; flags droop, kites rest, clothes hang straight down on lines. The little bluebird eventually finds his friend, who was really there all along, but also learns a little bit about himself, too. A beautiful story about the little bird in each of us.


The Dog Days of Summer

11 Aug

According to Wikipedia “The phrase dog days refers to the sultry days of summer.  In the Northern Hemisphere, the dog days of summer are most commonly experienced in the months of July and August, which typically observe the hottest summer temperatures.”

And here we are. It is mid-August and we are experiencing a heat wave in Portland. Today will probably be the hottest day of the year, at 99°F.

I’m starting to think about returning to work. This is my last full week of vacation. Next week I have a two-day training on Wednesday & Thursday. I get my hair cut Friday, then inservice week begins two weeks from today. Sigh.

Although I long for summer to continue forever, I do enjoy the return to a more structured daily schedule.

In The Dog Days of School by Kelly DiPucchio, Charlie is in the situation I will be in once we’ve been back to school for a few weeks.


Charlie thinks his dog, Norman has a great life, with no homework and very little responsibility. One night, Charlie wishes on a star, hoping to have a life as easy as Norman. When Charlie wakes up the next morning, Norman is in his bed and their roles are reversed. Brian Biggs’ illustrations add some details that DiPucchio doesn’t include in the text, to make this a wonderful book about role reversal and the fact that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.


A great book for k-2 at the beginning of the year, or a few weeks in when the routine has set in and things feel more like a slog.

Flights of Fancy

9 May

I’m spending a lot of time looking at flights. Air travel is on my mind. And, as always, there’s a book about it.

On the funny side,  Flight School by Lita Judge  is the story of little Penguin who has the soul of an eagle.


Alas, his body wasn’t built to soar. But Penguin has an irrepressible spirit, and he adamantly follows his dreams to flip, flap, fly! Even if he needs a little help with the technical parts, this penguin is ready to live on the win. He gets by with a little help from his friends. 

More seriously, we have Lindbergh: The Tale of a Flying Mouse by Torben Kuhlmann.


Goodreads SummaryA story of toil and triumph—inspired by Charles Lindbergh’s solo flight!   These are dark times . . . for a small mouse. A new invention—the mechanical mousetrap—has caused all of the mice but one to flee to America, the land of the free. But with cats guarding the steamships, trans-Atlantic crossings are no longer safe. In the bleakest of places . . . the one remaining mouse has a brilliant idea. He must learn to fly!   Torben Kuhlmann’s stunning illustrations will capture the imagination of readers young and old with the death-defying feats of this courageous and persistent young mouse.

The pictures are amazing.




Definitely a book you should take a look at and be inspired.


Picture book problem solvers

7 May


Let me start by confessing I almost cried reading Found by Salina Yoon. It starts of very simply.


Bear does everything he can to find the owner of the bunny, but to no avail. Then one day, he does. But by then he has grown very attached to bunny. But he does the right thing and goes it back. Even though he doesn’t want to, he knows in his heart it’s the right thing to do. This made me tear up. What Moose, the owner does next, is brilliant. And it is his action that  made the  tears leak out.

In Ashley Spires’ The Most Magnificent Thing, 


a little girl who makes things has a brilliant idea. The Most Magnificent Idea. She knows how it will look and work. But making it turns out to be harder than she thought. A great book to talk about engineering and design, and perseverance. the words and pictures convey  her frustration, anger and enthusiasm. The text uses vivid language to explain how she creates: “tinkers and hammers and measures,” she “smooths and wrenches and fiddles,” she “twists and tweaks and fastens.”

Two really great picture books you and your kids will enjoy.

You are special

28 Apr

Mr. Rogers’ song and the feeding of his fish, reminds me of the book Not Norman by Kelly Bennett.


It’s the story of a boy who wanted a cool pet, but got a goldfish instead. eventually, he learns what a great friend Norman the goldfish is.

Along those lines, two new picture books remind us of the beauty of being especially ordinary.

Extraordinary Janeby Hannah Harrison is the tale of a circus dog named Jane, who has no circus talent.


She isn’t strong, graceful, or brave like her family. But the illustrations show us more than the text does. Jane might be ordinary, and she might even be a poor circus dog, but she is an extraordinary friend. 

And so is Sparky from  Sparky!  by Jenny Offill.


It’s the classic sloth as a pet dilemma and very much like the Norman situation. But, in the end Sparky is perfect.


Outside the Box

10 Apr

What do you get when you take a best-selling picture book author’s poems and combine them with a Caldecott winner’s illustrations?


This is a collection of edgy, affirming, silly, and poignant verse. The book looks like  Shel Silverstein book. I suspect that’s intentional because it is dedicated to him. “The Shel S. , who encouraged every child to play with words, and in doing so, encouraged them to learn how to love, fight, and reach others with words as well”

The poems play with typography, talk about awkward situations, and allow readers to use their imagination. Here are a few samples. Enjoy.

poem depot interiors6




Brainy Bird Books

6 Apr

A family of ducks comes every year to nest in the courtyard of my school. There are usually two females, one or two males, and, eventually, many ducklings. So far this year, I’ve only seen two males, but I am hopeful that we will have ducklings before too long. Then, we will see teachers and students standing against the windows overlooking the courtyard, happily eating them. It is our Rite of Spring.

Thinking about the ducklings, my mind wanders to several new books about birds.

Unknown Unknown-1 Unknown-2

Aviary Wonders Inc. Spring Catalog and Instruction Manual by Kate Samworth is a wonder. In the guise of a catalog from a future in which builds are extinct, it presents bird part  you can use to build your own bird. It is apart parody of sales catalogs, part cautionary tale about environmental issues, part natural history of birds. There is so much here and so many ways you can use this in the classroom: persuasive writing, descriptive writing, how to writing….. you get the idea. Here are some pages to show you what to expect.

images images-1

Feathers Not Just for Flying  written by Melissa Stewart and illustrated by Sarah S. Brannen, is a more traditional take on natural history. Stewart focuses on just birds’ feathers and the many different purposes of feathers. Each page or two-page spread has a statement with a simile in large print like “Feathers can shade out sun like an umbrella.” Then there is a text box with smaller print describing how one particular bird (like the Tricolored heron, Florida Everglades) uses its feathers in this way. The text is simple, but the ideas are big.


Finally, we have Mama Built a Little Nest written by Jennifer Ward and illustrated by Steve Jenkins, which focuses, as you might guess, on nests. More suitable to younger audiences, the rhyming text explains the different ways birds make nests for their young, allowing children to learn amazing facts about different birds.

Unknown-4   Unknown-5



%d bloggers like this: