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.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Monster Reviews

Happy almost Halloween! If you're looking for books to read your kids or students on Monday, here is something funny, something sweet, and something scary.

First the funny. The Haunted Hamburger and Other Ghostly Stories by David LaRochelle, ill. by Paul Meisel. (Dutton, 2011.)

Do you know what a page turn is? In picture books, it's when you set up a joke or surprise on one page, and it comes to fruition when you turn the page. This book contains perhaps the best page turn I've seen.

But first the basics. The three ghostly stories are not only about ghosts but also told by a ghost: a father putting his ghost children to bed. The first story is about their Uncle Ned. When his attempts to scare various people fail, he marks an easy target: a baby. But the baby likes the ghost. He thinks its sheet is a blanky (hilariously, these ghosts are made of sheets.) This one has a great surprise ending, which made my kids laugh aloud.

But my favorite page turn was in the next story, "The Haunted Hamburger." In this, Cousin Nell seeks the Haunted Hamburger in the Haunted Forest to prove her bravery. She challenges the hamburger to various competitions, which the inanimate burger unwittingly participates in. When she asks it to make a scarier face than hers, the great page turn comes in! This picture book will make little and big kids laugh.

Next: sweet. Mostly Monsterly by Tammi Sauer, ill. by Scott Magoon. (Paula Wiseman, 2010.)

Bernadette is mostly monsterly, but she also likes to pick flowers and pet kittens. This leads to her not fitting in at monster school. (Sounds kind of like real school. Hey, let's pick on the nice kid!) Will the other kids balk at the greeting cards she makes them...or does Bernadette have a trick up her sleeve? What I love most about this book is that Bernadette finds a way to fit in while still being herself. That is a sweet, sweet compromise.

Finally, what could be scarier than a nonfiction book about monsters? Monsters by John Malam. (Qed, 2010)

Actually, it's only nonfiction in that myths are classified as nonfiction. But my sons thought the illustrations of monsters ranging from Flying Head to Hades, the three-headed dog of Heracles were pretty scary. I can only imagine how scary it must have been to live in a time when all scientific inquiries were answered through monsters. This book sparked a lively conversation about whether Hercules and Heracles were the same person. Answer: Heracles was a Greek God. His Roman name is Hercules.

Hope you read a funny, sweet, and scary picture book on Halloween. Now, I'm off to decorate our car for Trunk or Treat. The contest categories are, you guessed it, funny, sweet, and scary. Last year, I went for funny. Day of the Dead Grade School Students. On the board, it said: "Report cards go home today...and you're all dead!") It won scary instead, maybe because report cards really did go home that day. This year we're doing something like The Headless Substitute...going for sweet, of course.

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Kid Review: The Gruffalo

The first kid review is in for October's Save the Monsters & Marsupials (and the Picture Book.) It comes from Lily, age 4, in Utah. Didn't she do a fantastic job? This is the happiest monster book review I've ever seen.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Kid Reviews: Dino-Baseball and Bats at the Ballgame

The classroom winner of September's Save Everything! (and the Picture Book) is Karla Bright's second grade class in Cobb County, Georgia. Congratulations, class!

They read Dino-Baseball, by Lisa Wheeler, ill. by Barry Gott, and Bats at the Ballgame by Brian Lies, and did a great job reviewing the books.

Here are some comments and drawings from their book reviews:

The kids are asked to tell something new that they learned. Mikey said that he never knew people (or dinosaurs) could be ejected from a game. Here is his colorful drawing of a T-Rex baseball player.

Audrey said that she learned about a grand slam and that the book made her feel "a little bit of happy." She drew a dinosaur at bat.

The students are asked if they wish anything were different in the book. Stephen provided a more general wish: "I wish I could kick up high." That's a good wish in any context. Here is his drawing of a very cool baseball glove:

The students also read Bats at the Ballgame. On the book review worksheet, they're asked how the characters lives are different from their own. Kya noted: "The characters life is different cause they sleep upside down." Max said it's "beckus they do games at night." And Jalen noted: "They have Cricket Jacks instead of Cracker Jacks." Here is his drawing of the bats playing ball:

And here is a cool drawing of the bats upside down by Angel:

Great book reviews, kids! You saved America's Favorite Pastime! (and the Picture Book.) A package of books and fun stuff is headed your way.

(Teachers, see the post below to learn how your students can write and draw reviews to win books.)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

October's Theme: Monsters & Marsupials

It's time for October's Save Everything! (and the Picture Book.) This month's theme is brought to you by the letter M, which brings two groups together at last: monsters and marsupials.

The reason for the seemingly disparate subjects: my picture book, What to Expect When You're Expecting Joeys: a Guide for Marsupial Parents (and Curious Kids) comes out this month...and so do monsters and other scary creatures.

Actually, once upon a time, there were some monstrous-looking marsupials, including a saber-toothed marsupial and a large horned marsupial that looked like a rhinoceros (in fact, no relation to saber-toothed cats or rhinoceroses.)These creatures or their fossils may have inspired stories of scary creatures long ago in Australia.

On this month's list, you'll find spooky, funny, and interesting books about monsters and marsupials. I hope your kids or students will read, review, and win picture books! Please find directions and review worksheets on this printable flyer: