Archive | January, 2016

I Love You Already!

27 Jan

 

 

25817276I Love You Already!

written by Jory John

illustrated by Benji Davies

Harper, 2015

Bear and Duck keep their fans giggling over their unlikely friendship. Bear only wants to spend the day alone with his tea and his books. Duck only wants to go on a walk… with Bear. After constant badgering, Bear gives in to Duck. Poor Bear, Duck’s ceaseless pestering doesn’t stop once they start walking. But when Duck falls from a tree, Bear suddenly feels sorry about his treatment of Duck. With the tiniest encouragement, Duck goes back to his annoying habits.

Kids will understand the feeling of frustration when a friend insists on doing things his or her way. Sometimes though you do things your friend’s way just because you love them.

This is the second book featuring Duck and Bear. You can read more about this comical duo HERE.

 

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A Birthday Cake for George Washington

19 Jan

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A Birthday Cake for George Washington

written by Ramin Ganeshram

illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton

Scholastic Press, January 2016

 

Amid the controversy of this particular picture book, my copy was sitting on a holds shelf at the library waiting to be picked up. I was anxious to see if it was still there, or if it had been pulled from the shelves as it had been pulled from Scholastic’s inventory.

“The children’s literature world has been stirred up by Scholastic’s announcement on Sunday that they are pulling A Birthday Cake for George Washington from their line-up and offering full return credit for unsold copies. The nutshell for anyone new to this issue is that a picture book for young readers was published, and then recalled because it ended up altering and reinterpreting history in ways that made slavery seem like a sometimes proud and happy experience, without sufficient accuracy and context in the story itself for its young readers to understand the reality of that experience (though there is a note in the back matter clarifying some of the license taken).

-Turning Diversity Flare-Ups into Opportunity
Elizabeth Bluemle, Publisher’s Weekly January 19, 2016

You can read the whole article and additional links  HERE

 

The story itself, is about the making of a birthday cake for the president of the United States when there is no sugar in the house. The head cook is a slave named Hercules who is well-known and respected for his talents. The story is told through the voice of Hercules’s daughter, Delia. The tension rises because there is a storm and no one can be sent out for more sugar and Lady Washington arrives to check on the proceedings. Hercules is in an uproar and no one knows what to do. In the absence of sugar, Hercules uses George Washington’s favorite treat, honey, as a suitable replacement. Dinner is prepared by Hercules, a French chef, and the kitchen slaves. Everything is done just in time and enjoyed by the president’s guests. At the end of the evening, the president comes to congratulate his cook for a wonderful meal.

The rest of the story, as they say, is told in the afterwords of the author and the illustrator. These are obviously stated to enrich open discussion, but are not a part of the story itself.

Author’s Notes:

  • The cake made in this story is actually from a recipe from Martha Washington’s cookbook. It was marked as a family favorite, and so it can be assumed that it was made often by Hercules. It is called Martha Washington’s Great Cake and the recipe is included at the end of the book.
  • The Washingtons owned more than 300 slaves  who lived both at the Mt. Vernon plantation and the house in Philadelphia.
  • Slaves were often shuttled back and forth between Philadelphia and Mt. Vernon because there was a law stating that any slave living in Philadelphia for more than six months was automatically free.
  • Hercules did have a daughter named Delia, but she lived in Mt. Vernon and would not have been in Hercules’s kitchen in Philadelphia.
  • Hercules escaped from Mt. Vernon on February 22, 1797, George Washington’s 65th birthday.
  • On his death, George Washington freed his slaves through his last will. However, Delia was owned by Martha Washington and was not freed in George Washington’s will. She therefore remained a slave until Martha Washington’s death, and from then we do not know her fate.

 

Illustrator’s Notes:

  • The artist mixed media to tell the story. There are photographs of actual kitchen items placed among the drawings.
  • Although there would have been no leafy greens at that time of year in Philadelphia, however, they were a popular crop during that time period and included in the artwork for visual appeal.
  • The artist chose to portray the slaves as happy people because as slaves in George Washington’s kitchen they took great pride in their intelligence and culinary ability.

 

 

 

Groundhog’s Dilemma

19 Jan

25508197 Groundhog’s Dilemma

written by Kristen Remenar

illustrated by Matt Faulker

Charlesbridge, 2015

 

Groundhog has one job. And he does it well. Every year on his special day, Groundhog leaves his home and checks the weather. If he sees his shadow there will be six more weeks of winter, if he doesn’t there will be an early spring. Every year Groundhog’s friends gather around to hear his weather prediction. Every year, half of them are happy and the other half are not. But Groundhog calls it like he sees it.  Then one year his friends each decide to try to influence his prediction with gifts and bribes.

No celebration of Groundhog’s Day would be complete without Groundhog’s prediction. Every kid (around here at least) wants to know if he should trade in his sled for a skateboard or if he should leave out his hats and mittens for another six weeks.

Can the groundhog really predict the weather? How will Groundhog keep all his friends happy. A little dose of honesty goes a long way, and Groundhog learns that calling it like he sees it has its advantages.

This is Kristen Remenar’s first picture book and her husband, Matt Faulker’s thirty-ninth picture book. Together they have produced a pretty good one here. Like Groundhog says, “I just call it like I see it”!

Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer

14 Jan

22747807Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer

written by Carole Boston Weatherford

illustrated by Ekua Holmes

Candlewick Press, 2015

Winner 2016 Caldecott Honor &  Sibert Honor awards

 

Carole Weatherford and Ekua Holmes collaborate to create a masterful biography of the woman known as the Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement. Brilliant artwork deepens the meaning of the lyrical prose of the story. The text is infused with specific quotes and gives the reader the flavor that they whole thing is autobiographical when in fact it is a biography told in first person. Each spread depicts a different event or time in the life of Fannie Lou Hamer, 20th child to Mississippi sharecroppers who grows up to become a civil rights leader and one of the three women in a group to be the first African American women to sit in Congress.

One of my favorite quotes is,

I feel sorry for anybody that could let hate wrap them up.

Ain’t no such thing as I can hate anybody

and hope to see God’s face.

Out of one blood God made all nations.

It’s no wonder this book won both a Caldecott Honor and a Sibert Honor this year.

Maggie and Michael Get Dressed

14 Jan

 

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Maggie and Michael Get Dressed

written and illustrated by Denise Fleming

Henry Hold and Company

April, 2016

 

What’s not to love? A boy and his dog, morning routine, and colors! Denise Fleming has done it again, created funny endearing characters while skillfully infusing preschool life-lessons like making choices and self sufficiency.

Even a two year old can tell you that socks belong on your feet not in your mouth, but Maggie loves to chew things. Maggie is a good sport though and allows Michael to dress her before he dresses himself. And I bet no one is surprised that Maggie is found chewing on something when Michael gets home.

I was lucky enough to score an Advanced Reader Edition this week when my friend and critique partner returned from the American Library Association’s Youth Media Awards in Boston. Michael and Maggie will be available to everyone in April this year. I’m sure it will quickly become another Fleming classic!

 

Babies Ruin Everything

14 Jan

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Babies Ruin Everything

written by Matthew Swanson

illustrated by Robbi Behr

Imprint, Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group

July, 2016

 

Swanson and Behr are co-creators of over sixty books and their lives together which include their three children. Their depiction of a less than enamored sibling is a comical twist on the traditional ‘I’m a big sister now’ story. The mischievous protagonist with a genuine conflict gives new meaning to the word brotherhood. Definitely not your sweet run of the mill story, but you’re going to love this feisty little girl who calls it like it is!

Big Sister is upset when her baby brother arrives. Her whole life is turned upside down and no one seems to care. The baby has overtaken her room and even her club. He doesn’t know how to act at parties, stand on one foot, or throw a frisbee. Then she starts to see the value of having a baby brother. She begins by teaching him everything she knows and together they manipulate their parents into submission.

I read an Advanced Reader’s Edition. Get in line now to pick up your own copy this summer!

Outside the Box

12 Jan

When the American Library Association thinks outside the box,open empty cardboard box 3d illustration

this is what happens…

A picture book is awarded the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature, the John Newbery Medal winner is https://julianaleewriter.com/books-alive/l/last-stop-on-market-street/ by Matt de la Pena and Christian Robinson.22521973

A 56 page story is awarded the most distinguished American picture book for children, the Randolph Caldecott Medal winner is https://julianaleewriter.com/books-alive/f/finding-winnie/ by Lindsay Mattcik and Sophie Blackall.24819508

An autobiography and ‘celebrity’ picture book is awarded The Coretta Scott King (Illustrator) Book Award. The winner is https://julianaleewriter.com/books-alive/t/trombone-shorty/ by Troy Andrews and Brian Collier.23167689

This is the first time in the history of the ALA Youth Media Awards that the same person won both the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award and the Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievment in the same year. Congratulations to Jerry Pinkney! Pinkney’s newest picture book this year was https://julianaleewriter.com/books-alive/g/the-grasshopper-and-the-ants/20839547

Other picture books taking home ALA awards this year are….

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Emmanuel’s Dream by Laurie Ann Thompson and Sean Qualls  won the Schneider Family Book Award for books that embody an artistic expression of the disability experience.

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The Wonderful Fluffy Little Squishy by Beatrice Alemagna won the Mildred L. Batchelder Award for an outstanding children’s book translated from a foreign language and subsequently published in the United States.

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Drum Dream Girl by Margarita Engle and Rafael Lopez won the Pura Belpré (Illustrator) Award honoring a Latino writer and illustrator whose children’s books best portray, affirm and celebrate the Latino cultural experience.

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Funny Bones by Duncan Tonatiuh won the Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award for most distinguished informational book for children.

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https://julianaleewriter.com/the-cybils-2015/easy-readers/dont-throw-it-to-mo/ by David A. Adler and  Sam Ricks won the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award for the most distinguished beginning reader book.

Fifteen Faves of Twenty Fifteen

2 Jan

imagesI’ve read hundreds of picture books this past year! My main goal was to discover the newest published picture books and share the ones I liked with an audience of teachers, parents, and anyone who reads to children. I feel so fortunate to have read and learned from over 360 books! Of course, as I read, I would stop and think ‘I love this book’. I would close my eyes and imagine reading it again to my granddaughters or to a room full of uplifted faces. Some books touched my heart, some tickled my funny bone, and some simply wormed their way into my mind and wouldn’t let go! These are the books I added to my list of mentor texts to inform my own writing.

 

FastFiftyNumber15Not using any specific criteria, these became my top picks for 2015. Below are my Fifteen Faves of Twenty Fifteen listed alphabetically (by title). You can click on the title of each book to read my summary of the story and see the activities I chose to go with each book.

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Bear and Bunny by Daniel Pinkwater and Will Hillenbrand

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The Blue Whale by Jenni Desmond

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Bunnies! by Kevan Atteberry

22484277I Wish You More by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld

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Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast by Josh Funk and Brendan Kearney

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Leo, A Ghost Story by Marc Barnett and Christian Robinson

23846038Little Tree by Loren Long

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Mother Bruce by Ryan T. Higgins

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Nerdy Birdy by Aaron Reynolds and Matt Davies

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The Peddler’s Bed by Lauri Fortino and Bong Redila

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A Rock Can Be… by Laura Purdie Salas and Violeta Dabija

22750405Seaver the Weaver by Paul Czajak and The Brothers Hilts

22749702Stick and Stone by Beth Ferry and Tom Lichtenheld

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Those Pesky Rabbits by Ciara Flood

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Yard Sale by Eve Bunting and Lauren Castillo

*****

And just because 15 is too hard to choose… here are the 5 runner ups making my list Twenty Fifteen!

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Ketzel, The Cat Who Composed by Leslea Newman and Amy June Bates

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Miss Hazeltine’s Home for Shy and Fearful Cats by Alicia Potter and Brigitta Sif

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One Word From Sophia by Jim Averbeck and Yasmeen Ismail

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Soon by Timothy Knapman and Patrick Benson

26171165Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova by Laurel Snyder and Julie Morstad

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