Welcome, Readers!

The contest Save the Picture Book has ended. Telling people about funny, informative, beautiful, or generally awesome picture books continues. I also share middle grade books, book apps, and educational apps that my kids and I like.

Monday, February 28, 2011

March Flyer: Save the Bookworms! (and the Picture Books They Eat)

This March, you can:

Read picture books to your children or students.
Have them write reviews.
Win picture books for your classroom or home.

Find out the easy steps on this flyer:

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Our First Save Everything! (and the Picture Book) Event

Join us for our first Save Everything! (and the Picture Book) Event

The details:

Save the Bookworms! (and the Picture Books They Eat)
A Friday Family Fun Night
The Plaza Library
4801 Main Street
Kansas City, MO 64112
March 11
7 p.m.

Insect larvae can be cute or yucky—but always interesting. Come learn about these baby bugs from Bridget Heos, author of the nonfiction picture book What to Expect When You’re Expecting Larvae: a Guide for Insect Parents (and Curious Children.) (Lerner/Millbrook, Spring 2011.) Kids will see real larvae, do a bookworm craft, and be entered to win picture book prizes through Save Everything! (and the Picture Book.)

Friday, February 25, 2011

Sweet Picture Books Draw You In

Kid reviews for February will be posted soon. In the meantime, here are some extremely informal reviews of February's sweet books. As you can see from these reviews, I love how sweet books draw you in...

A Balloon for Isabel by Deborah Underwood, ill. by Laura Rankin
Greenwillow, 2010
ISBN-13: 978-0061779879

From @ Author Bridget Heos, on Facebook:

"Nothing against bookmarks BUT what if everytime the other kids got a balloon, you got a bookmark instead? Just because you're a porcupine! Read about this horrible injustice in one of our Save the Sweetness! (and the Sweet Picture Book) books. It's by Deborah Underwood, who also took the PB world by storm with her The Quiet Book."

What I didn't get the chance to say: It is amazing how this picture book of few words weaves together, by my count, three plot lines, which beautifully come together in the end. We have Isabel, who is frankly tired of getting bookmarks on special occassions, Walter, who takes for granted the fact that his father is in the candy business, and Ms. Quill, who upholds the no balloon rule even though she is a porcupine who suffered the same injustice as a child.

How could an author juggle so many plot lines in such short space? Well, maybe it would help if she used to be a street performer! Apparently Deborah Underwood was a street musician, not a juggler, but it is still awesome. I learned this from her Web site. http://deborahunderwoodbooks.com If you are a teacher, do you look at authors' bios with your class? There is often fascinating stuff there!

Grandma's Chocolate/El Chocolate de Abuelita by Mara Price, ill. by Lisa Fields
Combel Ediciones
ISBN-13: 978-8498254938

Keep your kings and wars. To me, the history of the world is learned at the kitchen table. In this book, Sabrina's abuelita brings gifts from Mexico, including cacao. As they make hot chocolate (chocolate caliente) Sabrina learns how important cacao was to her ancestors.

Many of you will remember having similar conversations in the kitchen of your mother or grandmother--whether it was about distant or recent history. Kids will enjoy learning the history of chocolate and may wonder about the history of other foods, too--especially if they can learn it while cooking with somebody they love!

Otis & Sydney and the Best Birthday Ever by Laura Numeroff, ill. by Dan Andreasen
Abrams, 2010
ISBN-13: 978-0810989597

Look at these bears. Something about their cuteness--and the sweet story--draws you into their world, like Russell Hoban's Frances books. In fact, after reading it, my son said that Otis and Sydney had decided for their next party not to have pink frosting on the cake. (See, he'd climbed inside and had a conversation with them.)

You know Laura Numeroff from her If You Give a...(Mouse a Cookie, Pig a Pancake, etc.) series, which kids love (and grownups can certainly relate to!) You've probably seen Dan Andreasen's work, too, though in a different style. He's illustrated some of the American Girl books. AND he illustrated Orville Redenbacher on the popcorn box!

Piggies in the Pumpkin Patch by Jennifer Rofe, ill. by Mary Peterson
Charlesbridge 2010
ISBN: 978-1-57091-460-7

As children follow these mischievous pumpkins through the farm, they hear the different prepositions...like through, over, around.

I've always loved the prepositions. They are the true jobbers of the English language. Unglamorous--but never unimportant. Whether kids share my love or not, they'll think this story is a lot of fun.

They'll love the colors and patterns in the book, too. I like how everything is so green and light brown (and a little pink,) except when they begin and end in the pumpkin patch. Then everything is orange. It just looks cute. I'd like to wear this book to someplace important. Or just live in it.

Henry in Love by Peter McCarty
Balzer + Bray, 2010
ISBN13: 9780061142888

My love for Henry in Love is no secret. Here is the love letter I wrote to it on Powell's: "This book is both sweet and real. Henry is having one of those days. The kind where everything goes his way! His mom packs a blueberry muffin as a snack. A big kid football player tosses him the ball. And as for his love, well you'll see."

I almost won a gift certificate for that review...but forgot to check my email that day. I'm sorry. Henry's story is much more interesting than that one. Again, the illustrations and sweet story conspire to draw you in. To this day I wonder what Henry is up to.

Considering that "love" was in the title I was surprised how much my sons loved this book, but they did. In my mind, it could even be called a "boy book."

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Picture Book Reviews...they're not just on Facebook anymore

Save Everything! (and the Picture Book) books are featured on Facebook @Author Bridget Heos throughout the month (along with other fun bookish stuff...and my thoughts about pro wrestling, which is kind of a long story.) Now, brief reviews will be compiled here each month, too.

Here are five of February's books, to start:

A Sick Day for Amos McGee, by Philip Stead, ill. by Erin Stead.
Roaring Brook Press, 2010
ISBN-13: 978-1596434028

Everyday, Amos rides the bus to the city zoo. There, he is not only a zookeeper but a friend to his animals. He plays cards with the elephant, sits quietly with the shy penguin, and races the tortoise. When he's sick one day, the tables turn, and the animals take the bus to visit him. This year's Caldecott Medal winner, it's illustrated beautifully with pencil and woodblock prints.

It would be fun for kids to compare and contrast this to Goodnight, Gorilla, by Peggy Rathman, a very different story about animals "visiting" their zookeeper at home. In that story, the zookeeper marches the animals back to the zoo when he realizes they have followed him. In this case, Amos is perhaps technically the animals' boss, but he's really more of a friend or caretaker. I love bosses like that!

String of Hearts, by Laura Malone Elliot, ill. by Lynn Munsinger
Katherine Tegen Books, 2010
ISBN-13: 978-0060000851

A kindergarten teacher was in our school library recently seeking a book about friendship for Valentine's Day. That's a popular theme in many classrooms this time of year. Here's a book that offers a story about friendship...and those little cards that school Valentine's Day parties are known for.

Sam has a crush on Tiffany. Before Valentine's Day, he tries to make a nice, personalized card for her with his friend Mary Ann's help. Unfortunately, the only thing he knows about Tiffany is that she's pretty. (Just to clarify, Tiffany is a cat, Sam is a bear, and Mary Ann, just her luck, is a squirrel.) He ends up making Tiffany a card, but she gets so many that she drops it on the floor. He pockets it. That's when he discovers the String of Hearts. Mary Ann has written something she likes about Sam on each heart! He goes home and makes Mary Ann a card, too.

It's a darling story. I'd like to see more stories about Valentine's Day cards. Some kids make them; others buy them. Some kids might get made fun of if their cards don't include candy (that happened to my friend's daughter this year.) Plus, there's always that one card--even in the store bought boxes-- that says a little more than the others. As a second grader, you wonder if your crush will give you the card that says "You're out of sight" or "You're out of this world." Because even a second grader knows that those don't say the same thing!

A Small Brown Dog with a Wet Pink Nose by Stephanie Bodeen, ill. by Linzie Hunter
Little Brown, 2010
ISBN-13: 978-0316058308

Amelia wants a small brown dog with a wet pink nose, but her parents don't think she would take care of it. So she creates an imaginary dog and does take good care of it. When her pretend dog goes missing, she convinces her parents to help her find it. The search leads straight to the pound, where, sure enough her small brown dog with a wet pink nose appears, looking surprisingly real.

This ruse never would have worked on my parents, and I think that's why I like this book so much! Plus the illustrations are really fun. Kids wanting pets is always a good topic because what kid doesn't want a pet (even if they already have a pet)? We have a dog. My son recently asked if he could have a fox. Of course, you can, son. You can have any wild animal you want! Just kidding. But let's read a book about that!

Cupcake by Charise Mericle Harper
Hyperion, 2010
ISBN-13: 978-1423118978

Comedians often talk about pitch meetings for off-the-wall T.V. shows. I love a good pitch: when the idea of the story alone brings a smile to your face. Then you tell other people and they're, "Okay, I'm with you. Yeah! Let's do this." It's like you've just had your own T.V. pitch meeting, even though you're really talking about a book that has already been made!

Cupcake is plain and vanilla. That means the fancier cupcakes get chosen before him. A plain candle is also left behind. Together, they try to come up with an exciting topping for Cupcake. By accident, Candle finds himself atop Cupcake and that's when he realizes...well, you'll have to see for yourself. It's not what you think!

The story includes a recipe for homemade cupcakes. Yum!

Benny's Chocolate Bunny by Janee Trasler
Scholastic, 2011
ISBN-13: 978-0545261272

I would like to start on a completely unbiased note and say that Janee Trasler has awesome taste in music: John Prine and Robert Earl Keen, which I found out through the magic of Facebook. If you are on Facebook, you really should follow Save Everything! @Author Bridget Heos. That's where this review was posted:

"Board books are the Haiku of picture books. Here, Janee Trasler tells a funny, sweet story in just 93 words. The other kids eat their Easter candy. Benny sees his as a friend. But Chocolate Bunny smells really good! I recently showed this to seventh graders as an example of a very young picture book...and they begged me to read it to them!"

Granted, I ran out of room on my status update before I could note that the seventh graders loved it. If you have big kids or teach big kids and can read them a picture book, it is the best thing. They are mesmerized. Just think, they're young enough to remember reading picture books, but they're old enough to have a whole new perspective.

Plus, they're now in the position to read picture books to the kids they babysit, and in that sense they can think of them critically for an audience other than themselves. Also, picture books are microcosms of all stories. They have problems, universal themes, and characters you love or hate (more so love in picture books). If you want to understand how stories work, read lots of picture books! Finally, "Bruised Orange (Chain of Sorrow)" by John Prine is a great song. (As long as I'm on a soap box, I might as well work that in.)

The reviews on Facebook are much shorter and perhaps reach a different audience, so it's probably a good idea to have them here and there. I'd love to know your thoughts on these books or picture books in general. Please feel free to join the conversation anytime here or on Facebook!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

February's Sweet Picture Book Prizes

Valentine's Day may be over, but February is still the month to Save the Sweetness! (and the Sweet Picture Book.)

When you read a sweet picture book to your children or students and have them write (or draw) reviews, they're entered to win these sweet picture books:

Plus A Small Brown Dog with a Wet Pink Nose, by Stephanie Bodeen.

And chocolate!

Thank you to the authors and publishers who donated these adorable picture books! Read them. Review them. Win them!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

This February: Save the Sweetness! (and the Sweet Picture Book)

Looking for a sweet Valentine's Day (or any day) activity?

Save Everything! (and the Picture Book) allows kids to:

1. Read picture books.
2. Write (or draw) reviews.
3. Win picture books.

Teachers and school librarians can win books for their classrooms and libraries, too.

February's theme is Save the Sweetness! (and the Sweet Picture Book.)

It includes lots of sweet books for the younger picture book set. If your library or bookstore doesn't have a book on the list, choose any new-ish sweet picture book.

It's FREE to participate. The purpose of this program is to show the wide range of picture books available for all ages and interests. They're great for literacy, sharing, and imagination (not to mention fun!)

Here is the printable February flyer, which includes book review worksheets for little and big kids:

Thank you for Saving the Sweetness! (and the Sweet Picture Book.)

January Winners Announced!

Congratulations to Brookside Charter School in Kansas City, winner of January's Save Everything! (and the Picture Book.)

The school sent in more than 100 picture book reviews! This was facilitated through April Roy and Ann Reaves of the Plaza Library, part of The Kansas City Library system, which is bringing Save Everything! into the schools they visit.

How I Learned Geography by Uri Shulevitz was the school prize (along with Guinness World Records 2011 and other worldly prizes.)

Individual picture book prizes were:

When It's 6 O'Clock in San Francisco, by Cynthia Jaynes Omololu.
One World, One Day, by Barbara Kerley.
All the World, by Liz Garton Scanlon, ill. by Marla Frazee.
Garbage Helps Our Garden Grow, by Linda Glaser, phot. by Shelley Rotner.

And bonus book The Best Pet of All by David LaRochelle, ill. by Hanako Wakiyama.

The Plaza Library will deliver the prizes when they read to the school again this month!

Friday, February 4, 2011

First Kid Reviews Are In!

The first kid reviews have come in for Save Everything! (and the Picture Book.)

Ann Reaves of the Plaza library brought four new world-themed picture books to a local school, and the students wrote more than 100 reviews! Thank you for coordinating this, Ann!

Here are reviews from some of our youngest picture book readers:

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Big Kid Picture Book Reviews

For Save Everything! (and the Picture Book,) Plaza Library librarian Ann Reaves recently shared How I Learned Geography, by author/illustrator Uri Shulevitz, with local second, third, and fourth graders.

In this picture book, a World War II refugee family is hungry. But rather than buying bread, the father buys a map. Though angry at first, the little boy is able to imagine far off lands--and even learns to draw because of the map.

My favorite quote from a kid review: "It was about a very poor boy who learned a lesson (Feed your mind.)" (See the full review below.)

I love seeing how kids review books differently from adults. For one thing, when adults say what they would change, it's something like, "I wish there was a glossary."

Kids, on the other hand, say:

Or, occassionally:

(Hey, we all have our favorite subjects!)

Library book reviewers tend to say who would benefit from the book being added to their collection. Children following the Percy Jackson series, for instance.

But when kids are asked "Who would like the book the most?" they give you a name:

The most popular answer to this question: "my mom."

I love that their moms love picture books!

Here are picture book reviews from some big kid readers:

Thank you, Ann, for leading this Save the World! (and the Picture Book) activity.

Please see below for a printable Save the Sweetness! (and the Sweet Picture Book) flyer. Kids and teachers can win sweet picture books by reviewing sweet picture books during the month of February.