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.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Time-for-Bed Angel by Ronica Stromberg, ill. by Kristina Stephenson, (Lion Hudson, 2008.)

Sam stays busy as Andrew's guardian angel. There are messes to clean up and boo boos to prevent. His work is hardest at the end of the day, when he must help Andrew set things right for bed time--arranging his stuffed animals in the right order, finding his teddy bear, etc. Will he ever end up safe and sound in bed?

Kids will be comforted by the idea of a guardian angel to help them through the travails of the day, and parents will relate to the time before bed, when kids can become busy and anxious. Just when it seems like all is lost...sleep comes!

Good night and sweet dreams to 2011. There is one more month of Save the Picture Book next year!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Review: La Noche Buena

La Noche Buena by Antonio Sacre, ill. by Angela Dominguez (Abrams, 2010.)

It's Nina's father's turn to have her for Christmas. He brings her from snowy New England to warm Miami to celebrate with his Cuban family. There, she helps her aunts and girl cousins make marinade, and then delivers it to her uncles, who are roasting a pig. Three days of cooking culminates in an outdoor feast on La Nocha Buena, a Cuban celebration of Christmas Eve.

I love picture books about family traditions, especially those involving food (actually, is there any other kind?) La Noche Bueno sounds heavenly!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Review: Christmas Kitten: Home at Last

Christmas Kitten: Home at Last, by Robin Pulver, ill. by Layne Johnson (Albert Whitman, 2010.)

What happens when Santa finds a kitten during his Christmas Eve visits? He asks Mrs. Claus if he can keep it! Unfortunately Santa is allergic. There is one little girl who would be a good fit for Cookie (the kitten), but her parents haven't given the okay...yet.

Kids will love this book about what they dream of: getting an adorable kitten for Christmas, or, from the kitten's point of view, getting to see Santa's Workshop (where the elves are having their Christmas party.) They'll also love the warmly realistic illustrations. Just look at that kitten on the cover...making Puss in Boots eyes at the reader!

This is a follow up to Christmas for a Kitten, which tells the story of how Santa found the kitten. Robin Pulver is also the author of Punctuation Takes a Vacation and other books about language and grammar. Happy Endings: a Story about Suffixes will be featured next month.

This month, somebody will win a signed copy of Christmas Kitten!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Review: Harvest of Light

Harvest of Light, by Allison Ofanansky, photos by Eliyahu Alpern, (Kar-Ben Publishing, 2008,) merges two of my favorite kinds of nonfiction: how things are made and kids' lives in different parts of the world. It also ties into the celebration of Hanukkah, which begins tonight.

The narrator's family has an olive grove in Israel. In the fall, they harvest the green olives. Because they are bitter, they soak for months in salt water, (which is what makes them such a taste sensation.)

These same olives then darken. As you know, black olives are eaten, too. But some are pressed into oil. The family dips bread into the olive oil and also pours it into their Hanukkah menorah.

This is a fascinating book and provides a unique way to learn about a Hanukkah tradition.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Kid Reviews: Hero Books Part 3

Ms. McDaniel's fifth grade students reviewed The Wall by Eve Bunting, ill. by Ronald Himler, Imogene's Last Stand by Candace Fleming, ill. by Nancy Carpenter, Wind Flyers by Angela Johnson, ill. by Loren Long, and Paulie Pastrami Achieves World Peace, by James Proimos.

This month, students also shared heroic acts they have done or would like to do. Kids are often underestimated. Meanwhile, they're saving their pets' lives, their friends' lives, their younger siblings' lives...

Antwuan helped a kid who got in a bad bicycle wreck get to an ambulance. He drew Mighty Max.

Here is his drawing of Imogene stopping the bulldozer.

Anjel stopped a friend from getting run over by a truck. He drew a picture of Imogene's rally signs.

Evyn helped her little sister across a deep pool when she was scared. She drew the mayor in Imogene's Last Stand, who wanted to tear down a historic building to make way for a shoelace factory.

She also drew a plane from Wind Flyers.

Looking forward, Santiago said he would like to make the world breathable in all areas.

Great job, Ms. McDaniel's class, and all the students at Sunflower Elementary in Paola, Kan., for being heroes to those around you and for being picture book heroes. Somebody should write a book about you! Picture books are coming your way after break.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Kids Review Hero Books II

Today's hero picture book reviews are by Ms. Secrest's 5th Grade class.

They read Imogene's Last Stand by Candace Fleming, ill. by Nancy Carpenter, and Paulie Pastrami Achieves World Peace by James Proimos.

As part of this month's hero book review worksheet, students are sharing heroic acts they have done or would like to do--a great place to start.

On a beach in Florida, Austen saved a sea star. Leigha stopped a baseball from hitting her brother.

In the future, Alyssa would like to be the first girl president. Miles would like to preserve historic houses, just like Imogene. Delaney would like to save the pandas. Dylan would like to save a kid from a well. Someone also said he'd like to "get married" but I think he was stating something he would generally like to do, not a heroic act.

Now for the reviews.

Miles said of Imogene's Last Stand "It was funny and that girl had a good voice." Here is his drawing of Imogene's protest:

Molly's favorite part of Imogene's Last Stand was when Imogene saved the house:

Katelyn thought the main character in Paulie Pastrami Achieves World Peace was funny.

Alyssa said she liked when Paulie read to the tree.

The students reported loving these books. However, no review can be totally positive (unless written by your mother.) Delaney noted that in Paulie Pastromi Achieves World Peace, she wished "the little BOY'S name wasn't Paulie." I think I see what she's getting at. Polly, Paulie. They sound alike. Leigha noted that she wished Imogene's last stand was about a girl that finds a "piece of mystery" instead of a piece of history. Sequel perhaps?

Thank you, Ms. Secrest's class for your heroic act of Saving the Heroes! (and the Picture Book.)

Friday, December 9, 2011

Kids Review Hero Books

Save the Picture Book! is catching fire at Sunflower Elementary in Paola, Kan. Jamie McDaniel's 5th grade class returned to the contest this month, along with two new 5th grade participants, Julie Oakley's class and Jayme Secrest's class.

These classes read Imogene's Last Stand by Candace Fleming, ill. by Nancy Carpenter, The Wall by Eve Bunting, ill. by Ronald Himler, Mighty Max, by Harriet Ziefert, Paulie Pastrami Achieves World Peace by James Proimos, and Wind Flyers by Angela Johnson, ill. by Loren Long. I was happy to learn of this last book, which is about the Tuskegee Airmen.

In addition to reviewing the books this month, kids were asked what heroic thing (big or small) they have done or would like to do. These are very heroic students. In Ms. Oakley's class...

Jake, 11, held the door open for 5 different families. Here is his drawing of Imogene rallying the troops:

Chloe, 11, has collected 20 coats for charity through the Girl Scouts (a very heroic organization.) Abi, 10, and J.P., 11, have both saved their dogs' lives! Kailey prevented her baby brother from cracking his head on concrete. Heaven, 11, donated all her money to charity. Here is Heaven's drawing of Paulie Pastrami sharing a cupcake:

Looking ahead, Luke, 10, would like to save all the hurt animals, and Riley, 10, would like to capture a bad guy. And looking ahead to next week...the other two fifth grade classes' reviews!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

snow, the science of

Sometimes, seeing "the man behind the curtain," makes things less fantastic. Other times, it has the opposite effect. The way something works is even more incredible than you could have ever imagined. This is true of:


music boxes.

the human genome.

marbles, the process of making.

and snow.

The Story of Snow by Mark Cassino, with Jon Nelson, Ph.D., illustrated by Nora Aoyagi, (Chronicle, 2009) tells how a speck of dust, dirt, ash, bacteria, or something of that ilk is needed for a snowflake to form around. It also describes different types of snow crystals and addresses the age-old assertion that no two snowflakes are alike.

Knowing the names of things like trees and flowers and columns (there's a book about a father who is known for this) is a cool talent that only some people possess. Why not be one of those people?

In Carole Gerber's Leaf Jumpers, children learn to identify trees by their leaves. Could they name trees whose leaves have fallen? After reading Winter Trees, by Gerber, ill. by Leslie Evans, (Charlesbridge, 2008,) they could! In simple rhymes and bright illustrations, it tells how to recognize trees by their branches, bark, and shape. Do you know the name of the tree on the cover, above?

Finally, birds may fly south, but I have yet to see squirrels hopping south in a vast v-formation. That's because, like many animals, they brave the winter by going underground. More on this book, by Kate Messner, ill. by Christopher Silas Neal, (Chronicle, 2011,) when it arrives at my local library (it is on order.)

Teachers, students can review these three picture books, via the downloadable worksheet in the previous posts, to win picture books for your classroom.