Monday, July 30, 2012

It's Monday! What are you reading? From Picture Books to YA (33)

It's Monday! What are you reading? is hosted by Sheila of Book Journey. Jen & Kellee from Teach Mentor Texts have adapted this to focus on Picture Books to Young Adult Books.

I had a crazy reading week. I read just over 60 books.  After taking a break from intentionally seeking out Caldecott Honor books (I finished the Winners earlier this year), I jumped back in with a huge stack.  I read 34 Caldecott Honor Books in my quest to read every Caldecott Winner and Honor Book this year.  Though I really enjoyed many of these books (most were from 1990 to the present), I am only going to highlight a few of them.

Here are some of my favorite Caldecott Honor Books from the past week's stack:

The Spider and the Fly by Mary Howitt; Illustrated by Tony DiTerlizzi - The illustrations in this were truly wonderful.  I loved DiTerlizzi's choice of a 1920's/1930's film style for this.

The Stinky Cheese Man: And Other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Sciezska; Illustrated by Lane Smith - Laugh out loud funny - If you haven't read this one, and enjoy fairy tales, you must read it.

The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain by Peter Sís - This is an amazing and powerful story of Sís's life. 

Red Sings from Treetops: A Year in Colors by Joyce Sidman; Illustrated by Pamela Zargarenski - Joyce Sidman's poetry has been illustrated by some amazing artists.  If I have counted right, her books have received 3 Caldecott Honors. 

Here are some other books that I was reading this past week:

Malcolm X: A Fire Burning Brightly by Walter Dean Myers; Illustrated by Leonard Jenkins - This is an older picture book that I came across at the library.  A solid picture book biography of Malcolm X.

A Meal of Stars: Poems Up and Down by Dan Jensen; Illustrated by Tricia Tusa - This small book of poems demonstrate the fun you can have in writing poems from top to bottom and from bottom to top. 

What You Know First by Patricia MacLachlan; Illustrated by Barry Moser - I read this after seeing it on Katherine Sokolowski's Nerdy Book Club post.

The Secret Chicken Society by Judy Cox - What happens when you end up with 5 baby chicks and one turns out to be a rooster?  Let the fun begin.  An early chapter book for 2nd and 3rd graders.

Small Medium at Large by Joanne Levy - I love the title of this book and it was definitely a fun read. Lilah discovers that after being struck by lightning she can hear ghosts.  What is she going to do especially when her grandmother wants her to help her divorced dad?  This will be easy to book talk with Middle Grade girls. 

From What I Remember by Stacy Kramer, Valerie Thomas - A fun summertime read that has the feel of a John Hughes' movie.

Silverfin (Graphic Novel) by Charlie Higson- This graphic novel tells the story of Bond, James Bond before he was a Secret Agent. 

So what are you reading this week?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Hot Off the Press! - 7/29/12

Hot Off the Press is fairly regular feature focusing on picture books that are recent releases.  I usually base the post on my weekly visits to Vroman's Bookstore or Mrs. Nelson's Bookstore in LaVerne.  The following titles can be found at either bookstore.

Here are some of the new picture book releases out in the wild....

Rocket Writes a Story by Tad Hill (Random House, July 24, 2012) - If you loved How Rocket Learned to Read, you will enjoy this sequel. 

Random House has put together several resources to accompany this book.  Click here to check out several downloads. 

The Night Rider by Matt Furie (McSweeney's McMullen, August 7, 2012) - This wordless picture book is a bit of a dream journey in full color. 
Click here to get an inside look at the book.   

ABC ZooBorns! by Andrew Bleiman and Chris Eastland - This gets the cuteness vote of the week.

For fans of really cute baby animals, ZooBorns has their own website, and has put out a board book version, early readers, e-book, an app and more. 

Timeless Thomas: How Thomas Edison Changed Our Lives by Gene Barretta (Henry Holt, July 17, 2012) - I was eagerly awaiting this one and it didn't disappoint.  My review is coming this week.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Books of Poetry - For Teachers Not Sure Where to Start

Pssst!  Come closer and I will let you in on a secret...poetry completely baffles me.  I know.  I am an educator.  I am supposed to teach this stuff, and maybe even like it.  To be honest, I have had to work at it.  I have to thank my friends like Paul Hankins and Donalyn Miller and John Schumacher for getting me to even crack open a poetry book.  

Guess what?!  Some of those books of poetry aren't so bad.   I have even recommended some books of poetry that I have found to those same friends.  I am learning and growing which means you can too if you think you might not like poetry.

I don't review many books of poetry on the blog.  I sound kind of weird just writing "Read this. I liked it." So, instead, I am sharing my top 10 books of poetry for children that are kid friendly and could be used by teachers to have some fun with poetry in the classroom. And I can say confidently - Read these!  You'll like them. (Please note, these are not in any kind of order...I really like them all.)

Mirror, Mirror! by Marilyn Singer, Illustrated by Josee Masse - This one is really my all time favorite.  I am in awe of Singer's skills at writing these reversible poems. If you haven't seen this one, it is a must read.

Roots and Blues: A Celebration by Arnold Adoff; Ilustrated by R. Gregory Christie - This book of poetry has a jazz feel that just drips off the pages. 

My People by Langston Hughes; Photographs by Charles R. Smith, Jr. - This was one of the poems that hooked me into Langston Hughes' poems. 

Won-Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku by Lee Wardlaw; Illustrated by Eugene Yelchin - I love this book.  Even 18 months after it's release, I still remember and like this one.

Lemonade: and Other Poems Squeezed From a Single Word by Bob Raczka; Illustrated by Nancy Doninger - This one and Singer's Mirror, Mirror! are two must owns (in my opinion) for teachers. 

Emma Dilemma: Big Sister Poems by Kristine O'Connell George; Illustrated by Nancy Carpenter - Maybe I appreciate this one because I am a big sister, but I love how this collection of poems tell a story.

Peaceful Pieces: Poems and Quilts About Peace by Anna Grossnickle Hines - Yes, I just really like this collection of poems. 

A Meal of the Stars: Poems Up and Down by Dana Jensen; Illustrated by Tricia Tusa - Another one that can challenge children to have fun with poetry.

Mother Poems by Hope Anita Smith - This is just a beautiful volume of poetry and the torn paper art is fantastic and Smith is funny in person (though grab a tissue when reading this one).  Aren't those reasons enough to read it?

Love that Dog by Sharon Creech- Though this is really a novel in verse, I had to add this book to the list.  I learned a lot about poetry from this small book.  

What poetry books would be on your list?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Book Review - Zoe Gets Ready

Author/Illustrator: Bethanie Deeney Murguia
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine (May 1, 2012)
Audience: Ages 4 to 7
Source: Personal Copy
Fiction * Dress-Up * Imagination

Description from GoodReads:
A story where getting dressed inspires big dreams!

Each day is full of possibilities, and Zoe wants to be ready for everything this one might bring. But that makes getting dressed really, really hard! If it's a twirling day, she'll need to wear the purple skirt. But if it's a cartwheeling day, she'll want the polka-dot tights. Or it might be a hiding day, perfect for the flower crown that will help her blend into the garden . . . or a flying day, which demands butterfly wings! As the clothes pile up and Mama tells her it's time to go, there's only one way Zoe can be sure she's prepared for all the adventures ahead -- a solution that will have parents laughing in recognition and kids nodding in satisfaction. ZOE GETS READY is perfect for all those little girls who wouldn't have things any other way.

My thoughts on the book:
This past Sunday I attended an event hosted by SCIBA (Southern California Independent Booksellers Association) and Mrs. Nelson's Book.  I love the events that they do but I specifically went so that I could actually meet Bethanie Deeney Murguia.  I fell in love with her first book, Buglette, the Messy Sleeper and with each book she releases I am becoming a huge fan.  It is also wonderful when you meet the author and she is just as fantastic as her books.

This title page is great.  It reminds me of both of my nieces as they try to decide what to wear.  More of it ends up on the floor than on them as clothes to wear.

Zoe gets to chose what to wear on the weekends.  How will she ever decide?

Murguia takes the reader through several dilemmas as Zoe tries to figure out what she is in the mood for.  Each two page spread provides readers with a sense of Zoe's creativity and wonder with life.

Obviously, Murguia gets this dilemma on a personal level.  Here is Zoe as she struggles to decide and that other little character with the pants on her head is her younger sister.  I swear I have seen this same image when I have spent the weekend with my nieces.

Throughout the story, the readers experience Zoe's mother's personal frustration as she waits on Zoe.  First the "don't take all day" type response, to the "I hope you aren't making a mess" to "Zoeeeeee! Now!"

Success at last - Zoe finally decides (well sort of) what to wear!

Can't forget the wings!!!!

Murguia's text and illustrations perfectly capture this very familiar experience in the lives of parents and young children.  Zoe Gets Ready will make the perfect gift for a special little girl in your life.  I know that my niece is currently enjoying her signed copy of Zoe Gets Ready. Thanks Bethanie!

Borrow Zoe Gets Ready from your school or public library.  Or check with your local independent bookstore. 

Watch the official book trailer:

For more information on Bethanie Deeney Murguia: website | blog | twitter | facebook

Monday, July 23, 2012

It's Monday! What are your reading? From Picture Books to YA (32)

It's Monday! What are you reading? is hosted by Sheila of Book Journey. Jen & Kellee from Teach Mentor Texts have adapted this to focus on Picture Books to Young Adult Books.

I was somewhat all over with my reading this week.  I read several picture books, early readers, some middle grade and some YA books.     

Here are a few notable books from my the past week's reading adventures:

Letters to Leo by Amy Hest; Illustrated by Julia Denos - This is the sequel/companion novel to Remembering Mrs. Rossi.  Annie is now in 4th grade and has gotten the dog she has always wanted.  The story is told through a series of letters which she addresses to her new pet. 

Necromancing the Stone by Lish McBride - I feel like I have been waiting forever for the sequel to Hold Me Closer, Necromancer.  Sam and the gang are back.  Many second books (because there better well be a third book in this series) feel like filler as the reader waits for the 3rd and final book.  However, I truly felt that this one not only stood on it's own but was even stronger than the first one (and I loved the first one).  One of my favorite YA reads of the year so far.

Lies, Knives and Girls in Red Dresses by Ron Koertge; Illustrated by Andrea Dezso - This is one odd book.  Gruesome, dark, and at times bizarre, Koertge retells (in verse and poetry) some classic fairy tales like you have never heard them before. Definitely upper YA/adult. 

Frankenstein by Rick Walton; Illustrated by Nathan Hale - This parody of the book Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans is perfectly done.  I had to buy it when I found it at Mysterious Galaxy.  Can't wait to share it with students at Halloween.

Where's the Doctor? by Jamie Smart (click here for the review) - Definitely check out my review for this book.  This is a must have for Doctor Who fans that are also fans of kid lit. 

Don't forget to share what you are reading?!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Book Review - Doctor Who: Where's the Doctor

Illustrator/Creator: Jamie Smart
Publisher: Penguin Group (UK) (Release date: July 31, 2012)
Audience:  Ages 4 and up
Source: Personal Copy

Description from GoodReads:
Where is the Doctor? The time travelling Time Lord could be anywhere in time and space in these incredibly detailed intergalactic images. Search through the Cybermen, dig through the Daleks and ogle the Ood to find the Doctor and his friends!

My thoughts on the book:
During my first visit to Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore in Redondo Beach, I discovered that there is a play on Where's Waldo? featuring Doctor Who.  I first discovered Doctor Who years ago when my mother started watching the original series.  I always found it interesting that my non-geek, non-Science Fiction loving mother watched Doctor Who.  The few episodes I watched with her were interesting albeit very campy but I could see the reason for a cult following.  In more recent years, Doctor Who has been revamped to be a bit more appealing to a whole new audience.  I will admit that though I have watched a number of episodes and do have some favorites I am no where near an expert as some of my friends.  The reason I share this information is that I want readers to know why this will be a more picture oriented review than lots of text. I would hate to offend a true fan of Doctor Who.  

So here goes...

Do you think this Doctor Who caricature is David Tennet or Matt Smith or some combination? My vote is Matt Smith. 

Seriously, a table of contents?! This is for those of us who cannot accurately identify all of the aliens and creatures.  It is like our own personal cheat sheet.

Not only are you searching for The Doctor, but you have to find The Tardis, Amy and Rory, plus a few others items.  I personally love that Amy and Rory are included in this.

The Daleks!!!! In my opinion, there is no way that you can have a Doctor Who book and not include The Daleks. 

Don't you just love Jamie Smart's illustrations?  I wonder if he can do a Doctor Who graphic novel for young children? I'd buy it.

In case there isn't enough of a challenge looking for The Doctor, The Tardis, Amy and Rory, there is a checklist at the end for each two page spread.

The final page has one of those "Spot the Difference" comparison pictures.  I bet you can spot one of the differences even from the small picture above.

Thank you Penguin UK for publishing Where's The Doctor? I already have friends wanting to pick up copies of this book.  When looking to purchase a copy of the book, don't forget to support your local Indie Bookstores when possible.