Tag Archives: picture book

Poetry in Motion

3 Apr

Are you old enough to remember the Gnomemoblile? It was a Disney movie from 1967.

It probably wouldn’t hold water with a lot of kids these days. But for kids who like cars, J. Patrick Lewis and Douglas Florian have a cool collection  of crazy car poem ins Poem-Mobiles, creatively illustrated by Jeremy Holmes.


Full of humor and wild adventure, the book takes readers on a road trip through a fantastical world in which cars can be made out of anything. The budding environmentalist might be interested in the Eel-ectric Car, “a battery-powered automobeeeeeeeeeel!”


A busy person, who is not shy, might love to ride in the Bathtub Car. I would rather not, but it is funny to think about.


I’m celebrating NaPoWriMo (National poetry Writing Month) with my Literacy Differentiation group. Each day we meet, we are writing a new poem. I think I will bring this book into class, share some ideas and then turn the kids loose to see what cool cars they can create.


Nice people

2 Apr

Nobody likes a grouch, except maybe Oscar the Grouch, who is an exception to the rule.  And remember that old saying “You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar”? Well, two new picture books have two really lovely characters who are as sweet as honey.

In  Brimsby’s Hats by Andrew Prahin, the mains character, Brimsby is a hat maker who is just a very nice person.


I knew I was going to like this book when, on the second page it turns out that Brimsby has a friend who makes wonderful tea and they sit down to it often and have wonderful conversations. Men after my own heart.


When Brimsby’s friend leaves to become a sea captain, Brimsby is full of joy and sorrow. Life becomes too quiet, so he decides he needs to make new friends. When he does, the results are spectacular.

Another very nice person is the eponymous Maple created by Lori Nichols.


Goodreads summary: When Maple is tiny, her parents plant a maple tree in her honor. She and her tree grow up together, and even though a tree doesn’t always make an ideal playmate, it doesn’t mind when Maple is in the mood to be loud—which is often. Then Maple becomes a big sister, and finds that babies have their loud days, too. Fortunately, Maple and her beloved tree know just what the baby needs

Maple is a delight. I wish she were in my class. But it is how she treats her new baby sister that makes this really a wonderful book, because, in the end, something magical happens.



Mysterious travelers

19 Feb

The snow is gone, but the wind and rain are back with a vengeance. I don’t often long for hot summer days, but I’m getting close to it. I travelled to a warm land last night, while reading Mysterious Traveler 


by Mal Peet and Elspeth Graham, with illustrations by P. J. Lynch. It’s not a tradition folk tale but really feels like one. It was beautiful from start to finish. Picturesque language  and lyrical prose evoke  the sights and sounds of a time and place far away,conveying the gentle love between Issa and Mariama, and the desert in all moods from calm and beautiful at sunrise, to angry and dark in a sandstorm. P.J. Lynch’s beautiful  illustrations, all done in earthy, desert tones, are both realistic and dreamlike.

Goodreads Summary: Already an old man, desert guide Issa has seen thousands of dawns. One particular morning, however, the desert reveals something new; something that changes his life. Tucked away in a narrow cave, shielded from a treacherous dust storm by a faithful camel, a baby girl lies wrapped in fine cotton and wearing half of a star medallion around her neck. Issa names the girl Mariama. As years pass, Issa loses his sight, and Mariama becomes his eyes. So Issa doesn’t see the pattern on the robes of a mysterious young traveler who comes through their village, or the medallion he wears. Who is this young stranger, and what does his arrival mean for the life Issa and Mariama share in the desert?

A funny note: the original British cover has 2 l’s in Traveller, the American only 1.

Animals Art(ists)

6 Jan

In   Parrots Over Puerto Rico Susan L.  Roth and Cindy Trumbore   intertwine the  histories of the Puerto Rican parrot and the island of Puerto Rico, culminating with current efforts to save the parrots from extinction.


For the first half of the book, Roth and Trumbore do a splendid job providing young readers with a history of the island, intertwining the birds’ history with its human inhabitants along the way. In the second part they indicate the awareness by Puerto Ricans that the birds are almost gone and then their efforts to bring them back. The book ends with a very informative afterward with photos as well as a timeline and a list of sources.

As always, Roth’s collages are outstanding.

Unknown-1  Unknown


Tables are turned in Whale Shines  by Fiona Robinson.


Whale is cruising about the ocean, advertising an art expo for sea creatures.   He sees all the other sea creatures expressing their creativity, and  bemoans the fact that he is a mere vehicle for advertising, not an artist himself.


images-1  Unknown-4

With a little help from some tiny friends, though, Whale discovers that, he too, can become an artist.


Some poetry for the end of the year

29 Dec

As 2013 winds down and people start reflecting on the new year and the changes they might want to make, let me introduce you to 2 little books of verse that you can use to reflect on your interpersonal relationships.


We Go Together: A Curious Selection of Affectionate Verse by Calef Brown offers the reader eighteen short poems celebrate love and friendship in silly verses. Acrylic illustrations accompany each poem. My favorite is this one

Because of You

I was once

a half-emptyer.

Now I’m a half-fuller.

Because of you –

the together-puller.

So if I should smile

and say something sunny,

don’t look at me funny

or act surprised.

Because of you,

I’m optimized.

On a more serious note we have What the Heart Knows: Chants Charms & Blessings by Joyce Sidman.


The book is a collection of poems to provide comfort, courage, and humor at difficult or daunting moments in life. It is joyful and serious, heartfelt and heartbreaking. It is a beautiful book with illustrations by Pamela Zagarenski. It opens with

Chant to Repair a Friendship

Come, friend, forgive the past;
I was wrong and I am grieving.
Tell me that this break won’t last–
take my hand; forgive the past.
Anger’s brief, but love is vast.
Take my hand; don’t think of leaving.
Come, friend, forgive the past;
I was wrong and I am grieving.

So, if you have a hankering for some poetry, I encourage you to read these two books. I think both books would lend themselves nicely to some writing activities with kids.

These three books from MCL are…

13 Dec

My Christmas company arrives in 8 days. I have a lot of library books to read and return by then. Today, I cleaned out the picture books I have left so I can get them back today. These  three books from the Multnomah County Library are all great. I usually like to buddy up picture books by theme or topic. Not sure I can find a common thread in these, but you should read them anyway.


Kenta and the Big Wave,  by Ruth Ohi, is based on true stories from the 2011 tsunami that hit the east coast of Japan.When the tsunami hits, Kenta and his family  leave their home and climb to safer ground. Kenta watches helplessly as his prized soccer ball goes bouncing down a hill and gets swept away by the waves, never to be seen again… that is until it washes up on a beach on the other side of the world, where a kind person mails it back to him.  Ohi does a fantastic job of describing the consequences this horrific event and the warm water color illustrations help kids see and understand the event without being overwhelming to young readers.


In this bilingual book, Don’t Say A Word, Mama/No Digas Nada, Mama, written by Joe Hayes and illustrated by Esau Andrade Valencia, two sisters love each other so much, they decide to share their garden bounty – but in secret.Mama promises not to say a word, but when her kitchen is overflowing with tomatoes and corn and chiles, she might not be able to keep her promise.  a lovely story, beautifully illustrated. This is a fun read.

Okay sports fans, this one’s for you:


Something to Prove: the Great Satchel Paige vs Rookie Joe DiMaggio, written by Robert Skead and illustrated by Floyd Cooper. From the flyleaf: In 1936, the New York Yankees wanted to test a hot prospect named Joe DiMaggio to see if he was ready for the big leagues. They knew just the ballplayer to call–Satchel Paige, the best pitcher anywhere, black or white. For the game, Paige joined a group of amateur African-American players, and they faced off against a team of white major leaguers plus young DiMaggio.

Not being a baseball fan, I didn’t know that this was a little known event in baseball and civil rights history. The artwork is stunning and really adds to this well-written, fascinating story. Pair this with We Are the Ship. 

The Marquis de Lafayette

12 Dec

I’ve always been interested in  the Marquis de Lafayette, a french aristocrat who fought in the American Revolutionary War, sided with the forces of change in the French Revolution, only to have them turn on him. he spent years in prison, separated from his family.  His real name was Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert Du Motier, and I found it ridiculously long & cool.  A few years ago, I read a Lafayette by Harlow G. Unger,


a biography for adults. Two years ago we got Lafayette and the American Revolution by Russell Freedman. It won a Sibert honor award.


This  excellent book is definitely for middle and upper grades. fortunately, we now have a book for a younger audience, Revolutionary Friends: General George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette written by Selene Castrovilla and illustrated by Drazen Kozjan.


The book opens in 1777 with the young Marquis, a fervent supporter of the American struggle against Great Britain, about to approach General George Washington. From there it shows how they grow to become very close friends, despite the age difference. The book is full of factual detail  and peppered with quotes from Lafayette. Back matter contains more details of their friendship, timelines for both Washington and Lafayette,a bibliography  and the final page features a pair of portraits of the two men that hang in the U.S. House of Representatives.

My inner nerdy child is dancing

11 Dec

I used to read trivia books and collect all sorts of facts and data. I even had a little book where I wrote it all down. I was such a weird kid.  Now, I am an adult and my inner nerdy child is dancing because of this book:


Did you know that, in its lifetime, a caribou will shed and grow 10 sets of antlers? You would know this, and many other cool animal facts if you read Lifetime: The Amazing Numbers in Animal Lives  written by Lola M. Schaefer and illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal. Each 2-page spread features one animal and gives at least one interesting fact about that animal with a large color illustration. But wait, there’s more:  the illustrations show the number cited (even 1,000 baby seahorses one male will carry!), so it’s easier for children to get the concept and they can count up on their own.Here’s one I especially liked:


I wonder how many sweaters, hats or pairs of mittens that would make.

The animals mentioned in the book include spiders, alpacas, kangaroos, dolphins, woodpeckers, giraffes, alligators, rattlesnakes, alligators, and butterflies. The numbers range from 1 to 1000. Schaefer has more information about each of the animals she has included in the book and also how she came up with her calculations. There is also a note on “What is an average?” showing how to calculate averages. although designed with younger readers in mind, I think the back sections would be helpful in many math classes.


27 Nov


Thanksgivukkah is a pop-culture portmanteau neologism given to the convergence of the American holiday of Thanksgiving and the first day of the of  Hanukkah on Thursday, November 28, 2013″. That’s the Wikipedia definition. I had to include it because I loved seeing ” portmanteau neologism ” in a sentence.

There is an abundance of holiday books out now. Here are two that encompass the ideals of Thanksgivukkah.


From the dust jacket: Old Bubba Brayna can’t see or hear very well. When a bear arrives at her door, lured by the smells of her latkes, she thinks it’s the rabbi. They light the menorah, play the dreidel game and eat the latkes. Before he leaves, Bubba Brayna gives the bear the scarf she knit for the rabbi. And then the rabbi shows up! Author Eric Kimmel and illustrator Mike Wohnoutka serve up a great Thanksgivukkah story.

Less traditional is Hanukkah in Alaska by Barbara Brown and illustrated by Stacy Schuett.


From the dust jacket: Hanukkah in Alaska is unlike anywhere else.Snow piles up over the windows. Daylight is only five hours long. And one girl finds a moose camped out in her backyard, right near her favorite blue swing. She tries everything to lure it away: apples, carrots, even cookies. But it just keeps eating more tree! It’s not until the last night of Hanukkah that a familiar holiday tradition provides the perfect—and surprising—solution.

Have a safe & happy day, however you spend it.

Toilet: how it works

23 Nov


It’s the sort of book you just have to pick up. Having been a fan of David Macaulay’s books for a long time, I knew he’d get to the bottom of things. Sorry, If just begs for potty jokes.

In any case, this is a really interesting book. Macaulay explains, in forthright text, what goes into the toilet, what should NOT go into the toilet and what happens after the toilet is flushed. There is humor in the illustrations


and the text is simple but really explains how the whole water treatment system works. I only had a vague idea before reading this book and feel as though I learned something.

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