P is for Pirate, A Pirate Alphabet

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P is for Pirate, A Pirate Alphabet written by Eve Bunting and illustrated by John Manders (2014)

Twenty-six spreads depict fun illustrations with real facts about pirates. The simple text for young readers is written in rhyme for each letter of the alphabet. More detailed information is written for the more advanced readers to learn more about each topic covered. An introduction tells more about the history of pirates since as early as 400 AD to the Middle Ages and the 17th Century “Golden Age of Piracy’. And a Question and Answer section at the back of the book tests the reader’s knowledge about pirates given in the book.

Eve Bunting gives so much information in this one simple book, that a reader may wish to read only a page or two at a time or browse the alphabet for an interesting treasure.

John Manders not only illustrates each topic beautifully, he entices the reader to find out more about pirates. The details in the artwork are both educational and fun to view.

I really found this book to be one of the best in the line of alphabet books and non-fiction texts about pirates. It was extremely well researched, documented, and illustrated. And I love that it can be enjoyed on many different levels.

Goodnight, Ark

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Goodnight, Ark written by Laura Sassi and illustrated by Jane Chapman (2014)

Opening rhyme: “Beds are ready, Food is stored. Noah hollers, ‘All Aboard!'” Two by two the creatures of the land and air board the ark. Then Noah announces ‘time for bed’ and the animals all buddy up in their spots. The rain starts quietly at first and then grows into a storm with thunder and lightening, waking all the animal pairs. And two by two they all clamber into bed with Noah! They wiggle, slither, jump, and pounce to join Noah until at last the bed breaks. When the skunks let out their stinky fumes, everyone scrambles back to their own bunks. Noah tucks them all in safe and snug singing a bedtime lullaby. Last rhyme: “Noah smiles in the dark. ‘Goodnight,friends. Goodnight, Ark.'”

Laura Sassi gives a delightful twist to the popular bible story of Noah and the Ark. Without losing the essence of the original story, she weaves humor and rhyme into the first bedtime routine on the ark.

Jane Chapman’s illustrations are childlike, bright and playful all while expertly lulling little eyes to sleep… zzzzz. Whisper now, what more could a parent want?

What a beautiful story! So much fun to read and share with little ones. Feel the calm before the storm, frolic with the frightened animals, rest assured that you are never alone. Goodnight sweet ones….

Just found this lovely YouTube picture book trailer for Goodnight, Ark. Take a look, I’m sure you’ll love it! 

Duck, Duck, Moose

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Duck, Duck, Moose! written by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen and illustrated by Noah Z. Jones (2014)

Duck and Duck are so neat, organized, polite, mannerly…  Moose, not so much!  Duck and Duck spend all morning cleaning the house, Moose crashes through the wall wrecking the table they have just set. Duck and Duck work at creating pieces of art, Moose falls splattering paint and destroying the statue. Duck and Duck hang balloons and bake a cake, Moose is ordered to leave the house. Duck and Duck hang the banners, wrap the gifts, make the punch… but where is Moose?

Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen writes a two-word simply perfect picture book. Children will love the rhythm of the familiar playground game transposed in this funny and touching story of a clumsy misguided Moose and the Ducks who love him!

Noah Z. Jones adds the details of this almost-wordless picture book. Even without knowing how to read, preschoolers can follow along and retell the story to themselves without missing a thing!

I so admire writers and illustrators who work together to tell a whole story! I couldn’t help but feel sorry for poor Moose. His tears broke my heart… and the Ducks’ love for him melted it. This is definitely one for my bookshelf!

Tea Party Rules

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Tea Party Rules written by Ame Dyckman and illustrated by K.G. Campbell (2013)

Cub follows his nose to a tea party in progress. Very politely, he asks the other bear if he could have a cookie. But the other bear doesn’t answer, and Cub realizes that the other bear can’t talk… or eat cookies! So Cub takes his place at the table. Just as he’s about to taste his first bite, a little girl comes along. She looks at Cub and decides that he needs a bath before they can eat… tea party rule number one ‘you must be clean’. Cub isn’t a big fan of baths, but he does like cookies so he goes along with the girl. But that’s not the end of it, there are lots of rules to follow. He must have his hair done, he must be dressed up, and he must eat daintily. Finally Cub has had enough of tea party rules and he helps himself WITHOUT FOLLOWING THE RULES! Luckily for Cub, the little girl decides that they should play BEAR instead. He liked that game better, after all, he already knew the rules.

Ame Dyckman tells an endearing story of friendship and rules. Imaginative play and appreciating differences are two underlying themes in this sweet Girl-meets-Bear story.

K.G. Campbell gives the reader the illusion of really being on the scene. He lets you feel the nip in the air and the bubbles on your nose, smell the fall leaves and the just baked cookies, and understand the sense of anticipation, dread, and playfulness.

I love this story for so many reasons! Maybe most of all, because I love the conflict Cub feels about not wanting to follow the rules but really wanting the cookies. And then there’s the duality of the little girl. On one hand, she loves fancy tea parties with friends and is determined to make sure everyone follows the rules exactly. And on the other hand, she embraces the natural tendency of Cub and is willing to play a game that he likes as well.

Goldi Rocks and the Three Bears

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Goldi Rocks and the Three Bears written by Corey Rosen Schwartz and Beth Coulton and illustrated by Nate Wragg (2014)

‘Once upon a rock-and-roll time’… the Bear family played in band. However, they didn’t have very many fans yet. Papa Bear decided that what they needed was a soprano who could sing all the high notes. And it just so happened that as soon as they left their house in search of a soprano, a little girl came to their house. Inside, the little girl hurried over to their practice stage and began preforming a do-whop dum-diddy-do until she fell and broke the microphone. Then she tried Papa Bear’s drum set, Mama Bear’s guitar, and Baby Bear’s keyboard. She played and played until she fell asleep on the stage. When the bears came home from an unsuccessful day of listening to tryouts, they found the mess and the little girl drooling on the keyboard. Papa Bear disrupted her sleep and she awoke with a scream, which just so happened to be a perfect high C. Instead of running away, the girl stayed with the bears and together they wrote a new hit single – ‘Too Hot, Too Cold, or Just Right?’ They topped all the rock charts and their new fans were crazy about… Goldi Rocks and the Great Three Bear Band!

Corey Rosen Schwartz and Beth Coulton have come up with a modern twist to a favorite old fairy tale. Written in rhyme and set with a rock and roll background, this story delivers a punch!

Nate Wragg brings the timeless characters to life. The illustrations are both nostalgic and edgy.

I love this new take on an old favorite! The traditional theme of breaking-in and destroying the bear’s belongings is freshened up with the final working together of Goldilocks and the Bears. The story is music to my ears!

The Grudge Keeper

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17653933The Grudge Keeper written by Mara Rockliff and illustrated by Eliza Wheeler (2014)

The story opens with Cornelius, the grudge keeper of Bonnyripple, carefully tucking small rolled pieces of paper into every nook and cranny of his ramshackle cottage. Whenever anyone in the town had a complaint, insult, squabble, tiff, or snit they gave it to the grudge keeper. The grudges kept coming and coming until one day the wind rose and blew all the grudges into a whopping pile with Cornelius buried deep at the bottom of the pile. The people of Bonnyripple had no idea what to do  until they found their old grudges in the mess burying Cornelius. Reading their old complaints they saw their foolishness in saving the grudges. They quickly gave shameful apologies and real forgiveness to each other. The story ends in a big wedding party for Big Otto and Lily Belle, who are mad about each other. And no one in the town of Bonnyripple ever kept a grudge again… not even Cornelius.

Mara Rockliff, writes a modern folktale for today’s readers. Her use of language is extraordinary and her message is timeless.

Eliza Wheeler’s detailed pictures bring this story to life. Drawn to look like an older tale, her illustrations help to capture the magic of the story.

I love this story. It is on the high end for picture book readers, as it employs storytelling techniques and vocabulary usage to challenge older, more sophisticated readers. Sure to be a folktale classic!

Sleepyheads

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Sleepyheads written by Sandra J. Howatt and illustrated by Joyce Wan (2014)

 All the sleepyheads have snuggled in for the night, each in their own little bed. One is in a nest, one is in a hole, one is in a cave. In the trees, lake, and barn all the sleepyheads are sound asleep. (Except the owl who slept all day!) Then with one more place to look for sleepyheads, the reader goes inside the house and finds one beside the fireplace and another in a dark space, but when we get to the bedroom someone is missing from his bed. Where is he? In his Mama’s arms!  Goodnight sleepyheads.

Sandra J. Howatt’s first picture book is soft and sweet and sleepy. The quiet movement from the woods, to the lake, to the barn, and then to the house is perfectly paced. Like a lullaby, this book is written in sleep-enducing rhyme and rhythm.

Joyce Wan adds the beautiful illustrations to the text. The pictures are also soft and sweet and sleepy. Starting with the crescent moon and stars in the dark sky, the reader is immediately transported into that pre-sleep state of consciousness which ends in Mama’s arms while fireflies light the dandelions.  

What a perfect bedtime story! I love everything about it. The text and illustrations dance together in the evening music, lulling tired little eyes to close and sweet little heads to nod. 

 

The Only Alex Addleston in All These Mountains

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The Only Alex Addleston in All These Mountains written by James Solheim and illustrated by Jeffrey Ebberler (2014)

Alex Addleston arrives in her kindergarten room just to find that there is another Alex Addleston in her class, and he’s sitting in her seat. The two Alex Addleston become best friends. They collect blueberries and catch fireflies together. And they trade Captain Moonbeam message rings. They trade secret messages. ‘Harp slyamor, me zip pal fwip’ means ‘Best friends, no matter what’. But then Alex goes away for the summer and when he returns Alex has moved to Africa with her family. Alex lay on top of the mountain and counted the stars – alone. While Alex lay on the savanna and counted the stars – alone.  And even though they were a zillion miles apart, they never give up on each other. Then one night, six years later, Alex is catching fireflies at the top of the mountain and Alex goes after the exact same firefly. ‘Harp slyamor?’ they both ask at the same time. ‘Me Zippal fwip’ they answer each other.

James Solheim tells a story about a unique friendship that lasts over many years and many more miles.

Jeffrey Ebberler adds the dimension of time in the future with his photos of Alex and Alex as adults, getting married and having children.

Readers will be enchanted with Alex and Alex. It’s more than just a story of friendship, it’s a story of a bond stronger than time and place.

 

The Purple Kangaroo

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The Purple Kangaroo written by Michael Ian Black and illustrated by Peter Brown (2009)

Before I go on, let me just state right up front, that I first heard about this book through the video book trailer below. Take a minute and watch it before you read the rest of this post, you won’t be sorry.

See! I was right wasn’t I? Now you just have to read the book too… I did! The monkey is a clairvoyant primate who not only can read your mind, he can do it again. And he doesn’t stop with just the ‘purple kangaroo’, he also gives you exact details as to what the purple kangaroo is doing. In the video, Michael Ian Black gives the reader some of the details the monkey provides, but not all. To find out all of the details of the purple kangaroo, his best friend – the wild-eyed chinchilla Señor Ernesto de Pantalones, and the pilot Admiral Margarita Flowerpuffer, you’ll have to pick up a copy of the book and be amazed as the mind-reading monkey reads your mind too!

Michael Ian Black has ‘super secret, highly unusual, incredible, amazing, and slightly alarming magical powers’ himself. He can entertain and astonish readers of all ages with the simple turn of a page.

Peter Brown has ‘super secret, highly unusual, incredible, amazing, and slightly alarming magical powers’ as well. He has the ability to picture exactly what you are thinking and furthermore can illustrate your mind’s picture on the pages of the book.

I love the combination of text and artwork in this picture book. The ‘joke’ is clever and complete. And I’m pretty sure even the youngest readers will ‘get it’.

The Invisible Boy

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The Invisible Boy written by Trudy Ludwig and illustrated by Patrice Barton (2013)

 Brian is the invisible boy. Even his teacher, Mrs. Carlotti doesn’t notice him because Nathan is too loud and Sophie is a whiner. When it’s time to pick teams, Brian is left out. And at lunchtime, Madison invited everyone to her birthday party except Brian. Brian loves to draw, it’s what he does best. He sits quietly at a table and draws fire-breathing dragons, space aliens, pirates, and superheros. Then one day, Mrs. Carlotti introduces a new boy to the class. His name is Justin, and looks a little different than the rest of the kids. At lunch, Madison makes fun of his chopsticks, and J.T. makes fun of his bulgogi, calling it Booger-gi. All the kids laugh, except Brian, he just sits there feeling invisible. The next day Justin finds a note in his cubby. It was from Brian and it said, ‘I thought the bulgogi looked good.’ And he drew a picture of himself eating with chopsticks. That afternoon, Justin played with Brian on the playground. But when it was time to team up for a special project, Emilio pairs with Justin, leaving Brian out again. Luckily for Brian, Justin adds him to their team. When Mrs. Carlotti gives the directions, the boys are work together to put on a three-man play. From then on, Brian didn’t feel invisible anymore. Justin and Emilio make room for him at their lunch table and they share a bag of cookies together.

Trudy Ludwig tells a very important story about friendship and inclusion. She gets right to the meat of the problem that both Brian and Justin face in school, and helps the children solve their own problem. Her examples of inclusion serve as real-life solutions for countless children in schools everywhere.

Patrice Barton’s illustrations are soft and tender. She allows the reader to see Brian in outline form only when he is feeling invisible, and adds color a little at a time as he becomes accepted by his peers. In contrast, all of the other characters are painted in soft watercolors further emphasizing Brian’s feelings throughout the story, and I think also showing that the other characters are not necessarily mean-spirited just unaware of Brian’s feelings.

Inclusion doesn’t have to be a major event, it can be as simple as inviting someone to sit at your lunch table or letting them join your group at work or play.  I adore the paintings in this story. My heart goes out to the invisible Brian on every page. This is a beautifully written and illustrated book. I highly recommend it to my teacher friends, parents, and children.

Too Much Glue

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Too Much Glue written by Jason Lefebvre and illustrated by Zac Retz (2013)

Matty is a creative genius when it comes to glue. He and his dad love to make glue creations at home, with mom’s approval of course. But at school, his teacher warns about using too much glue. In class Matty decides to make the biggest glue puddle ever and lay in it. He gets yarn, plastic bricks, goggly eyes, and colorful paper stuck to himself. The problem is that he can’t get up, he’s stuck to the worktable! The more his friends try to release him, the more decorations he gets stuck to himself. Neither the teacher nor the principal can unstick him. Finally, his dad comes in and saves the day. Dad pries him off the table and congratulates him on making a masterpiece. Dad takes him home and unpeels the glue from his body and re-glues it together in the kitchen. They take a magnet and stick it on the back of the Matty-shaped masterpiece and hang it on the refrigerator. Taking the principal’s suggestion seriously, Matty and his parents experiment with tape after dinner… oh no!

Jason Lefebvre has written his first picture book and glue masterpiece. Although I wonder if he has ever been an art teacher, I bet he was once a kid like Matty! His creativity and over-the-top antics make a hilarious picture book. It’s certainly a story that will ‘stick with you’… ba da dum!

Zac Retz captures the spirit of Matty and glue-lovers everywhere. The illustrations are so real, you might be afraid to touch the pages for fear of sticking everything together into one globby glue mess.

I love this story, but I would hide the glue bottles from anyone who has read it! What a crazy, hysterical, post-reading disaster this could be! Share at your own risk!(Did I emphasize this enough with unnecessary exclamation marks?)

Clark the Shark

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Clark the Shark written by Bruce Hale and illustrated by Guy Francis (2013)

It’s back to school time for Clark the Shark, and he’s super excited. Clark LOVES school. In his own words, ‘SCHOOL IS AWESOME!’ ‘LUNCHTIME IS SWEEEET!’ and ‘RECESS ROCKS!’ The problem is that Clark loves everything way too much. He’s too loud, too wild, and just too much for the other fish to handle. Luckily for him, Clark’s teacher, Mrs. Inkydink is there to help him remember the rules. Clark gets a big idea… ‘Maybe if I make a rhyme, I’ll remember every time!’  So Clark reminds himself with his own rhymes, ‘When teacher’s talking, don’t go walking.’  ‘Only munch your own lunch’ and ‘Easy does it, that’s the way. Then my friends will let me play.’ Clark has learned how to get along with everyone and still have fun. Now it’s time to teach the new kid, Sid the Squid, how to get along.

Bruce Hale has written a series of Clark the Shark books in addition to his other works. He gets into the heart of a young child with loud and sometimes rude antics of a fun-loving fish who just happens to be over-the-top, but who really just wants to be accepted.

Guy Francis takes is deep into the waters of Clark’s world with details of the ocean incorporated into the human-like settings of Clark’s home and school. Reader can immediately identify with the underwater playground, the submarine school bus, the kale salad, and the sea slug ice cream.

My favorite character has to be Mrs. Inkydink. Bruce and Guy must have known that teachers must have eight arms to educate, protect, and handle all their students. I love how Mrs. Inkydink can grade papers, write on the board, and hug her students all at the same time!

In the second book in the series, Clark the Shark Dares to Share,  Bruce Hale and Guy Francis take their readers on another learning adventure for Clark. It’s Show and Share day at school, but Clark doesn’t get the concept of sharing. Sharing is complicated, but Clark finally understands and shares a ‘home-baked krill cake and a great big shark apology’ with his friends.

18090126The next installment in the series is due at the end of this year. Look for Clark the Shark Takes Heart in December, 2014.

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Found

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Found written and illustrated by Salina Yoon (2014)

One day Bear found a stuffed bunny in the woods. It was the most special thing he had ever seen. But Bear realized that Bunny might be sad so he made flyers and posted them on every tree in the woods. He saw a lot of Lost posters, but none for a bunny. Bear wished he could keep Bunny. He slept with Bunny and took him on a picnic. When Bunny’s owner, Moose, found him, Bear was sad. He handed Bunny over to Moose who hugged him and handed him back to Bear, asking him to take good care of him. ‘Special toys are meant to be passed on to someone special.’ Now Bunny wasn’t lost anymore, he was FOUND!

Salina Yoon is the author and illustrator of nearly 200 board books for preschoolers. She understands children and keeps her stories simple and beautiful, addressing the issues of young readers.

I’m always happy to find a new book by Salina Yoon. And I especially love this book about sharing and finding a new home for well-loved toys.

Cat Napped!

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Cat Napped! written and illustrated by Leeza Hernandez (2014)

Kitty Cat, Pretty Cat snuggled up in the wrong chair… the one in the back of a pick-up truck. Now she’s headed out of town! There must be some mistake. Kitty jumps from the moving truck and collides with a trash can. Poor Kitty is found by a kind woman who takes her to the pound. All the while, her owner is putting up signs all over town. When her owner calls the pound, she and Kitty are reunited. Aww, love!

Leeza Hernandez is a talented author and illustrator. Cat Napped! is the companion book to the equally clever Dog Gone! (2012). Both books are written in verse and use language young children will enjoy hearing again and again. The simple lines and bright colors are the perfect combination for the preschool crowd.

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I have a special bias toward Leeza Hernandez and hope I can meet her someday as well. Until then, I will continue to sing her praises (metaphorically speaking of course, no one wants to hear me sing). Do yourself a favor, and pick up her books. You’ll thank me for it later.

Sand Cake

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Sand Cake written and illustrated by Frank Asch (1978)

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Sand Cake by Frank Asch (2015)

This classic story was first published over 35 years ago and will be reintroduced in an expected 2015 publication.

Baby Bear wants to make Papa a cake at the beach. Papa promises to eat it if Baby Bear uses eggs, milk, and flour to make it. Baby When he can’t do it, Baby Bear asks Papa Bear if he can make one. He promises to eat it because he doesn’t think it can be done. But Papa Bear makes a sand cake by drawing eggs, flour, and milk in the sand and then scooping the ingredients into Baby Bear’s bucket. While Baby Bear and Papa Bear float in the water, the cake is baking in the oven Papa Bear has drawn in the sand. When it’s ready to eat, Baby Bear draws a picture of himself in the sand around the sand cake. Now, it’s Papa Bear who is surprised and gives Baby Bear a huge hug. Then they both sit down to eat some of Mama Bear’s cake made from real eggs, milk, and wheat.

Frank Asch is the author of over 60 of children’s books. Sand Cake is one of many Baby Bear stories. It is a simple, yet treasured children’s picture book. The text is easy to read and the illustrations are endearing.

I have read and loved Baby Bear books since my own children were babies, and my classroom always had a collection of Baby Bear books for independent reading. I know from first hand experience how much children love Baby Bear. And I am so excited to see a new publication of Sand Cake coming out next year. It is sure to capture the hearts of the next generation of readers!

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