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Monday, September 12, 2016

Animal Planet

Two beautiful books by Laaren Brown out last year came to my notice.  Polar Animals and Ocean Animals in a series called Animal Bites from Time Inc. Books/Liberty Street.  I saw the paperback versions. 
Both are chock full of amazing photos of their designated animals and their habitats.  
Ocean Animals gives you bite-sized information about many animals.  I love the wonderful photos, but it also has tid-bits of info around a picture that points out particular features on an animal. There is a section called "Info Bites" that give the name, type of animal, home, and size along with size comparison so we can see how large or small each animal is.  For example the whale shark is as big as a school bus, that is background knowledge kids have and can use to compare.  Also within the Info Bites is a global map that shows the range where the animal lives.

As with Ocean Animals, Polar Animals has a table to show how to use the book, a table of contents, an activity page, resources, glossary, index, and photo credit page. Besides a page for different animals, where they live, how they live, and a big data section, there's also pages called vistas that have two page spreads that encompass a huge area of where the animal lives. There is an animal gallery to compare similarities and differences, and a 'Just Like Me' area where you can compare how this animal is like humans. 
These non-fiction books will be used so much at my library because of those gorgeous photos and the small bites of information.  This way children can learn a little about a lot of different animals.  If they want to learn more there are other books on just one animal that they can go to next. Because of the their ease of use I'd use these with Preschool and older, up to middle school age.  They have something for everyone.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Steamboat School

Picture from illustrator's blog*
Steamboat School by Deborah Hopkinson, illustrated by Ron Husband is a moving historical fiction.  Based on facts around the life of Reverend John Berry Meachum, Hopkinson tells the story through the eyes of "James" a fictional character.  James has to be dragged to school, at first.  But after the Tallow School is shut down he helps bring about the Steamboat School.
This story gave me goosebumps.  The very idea that it would be against the law for someone to go to school is against everything I believe in.  One of the quotes is about courage and bravery being a small thing.  That really struck a chord and I know it will translate well into the classroom with children and teachers.
The art was first done as small sketches on tracing paper then enlarged onto illustration board. Next Husband used pen and black India ink, color was added in Photoshop over an aged paper background.
The illustrations are detailed using a limited, muted palette. 
I'll use this with Kindergarten and older students.  Probably a Kindergarten late in the year so they're not so squirrelly. 

*Illustrator's blog found, here, where the above picture was taken.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Pipsie Nature Detective: The Lunchnapper

Pipsie is back with a new caper in Pipsie Nature Detective: The Lunchnapper by Rick DeDonato, illustrated by Tracy Bishop.  Pipsie's a sweet youngster that loves a good mystery.  Along with her turtle friend, Alfred, she solves this new case while going on a field trip that takes them on a nature scavenger hunt in the woods.  Alfred and Pipsie are out to find the 7 Wonder of Nature! 

1. An animals home
2. Animal tracks
3. A sign that an animal was here!
4. Something crawling
5. Something flying
6. Something swimming
7. Your favorite wonder

The each person in the group takes a buddy and they're off and hunting. But before they even get to their first wonder their lunch goes missing.  We have a scavenger hunt and a mystery to solve. 

The art looks like watercolors, but I suspect that it has a bit of digital help.  I like the different perspectives we see in the woods with a bird's eye view, the beaver's lodge cutaway look, and the thought balloon with Pipsie thinking about the porcupine's quill and connecting it to #3 on her list. 

I applaud the use of writing in this book that can help children relate an activity to writing or recording their ideas. It brings together science, writing, physical activity, discovery, and imagination as Pipsie has to use her brain to think about what animal the tracks are from, what kind of animal home she sees, and so many different aspects of nature and how forms her thoughts.

I have plans to use this book this summer with my Camp Library program and the previous Pipsie book about the Disappearing Caterpillar.  They'll both be great introduction books to fun topics to get the kids started.  We don't have a woods around us, but we can adapt it for our area and find what we can.

I think this title will best be used with Kindergarten through 2nd grade students and I'll recommend it to teachers and parents as well.

Find lots of fantastic Pipsie printables, games, and information at her website, here, and a downloadable kit, here.

Others participating in Pipsie's new book birthday blog tour:

Mon, Apr 11
Tues, Apr 12
Wed, Apr 13
Thurs, Apr 14
Fri, Apr 15
Mon, Apr 18
Tues, Apr 19
Wed, Apr 20
Thurs, Apr 21
Fri, Apr 22

Monday, April 11, 2016

Pattern Storytime

Let's begin with Talk and Background Knowledge
This book is a book about real information, but it has great colors and patterns in it.  It’s about patterns and how you make them.

Aside I
As children get older they follow directions, repeat your words, respond to what you say with words, phrases, and then whole sentences. Listening to children while they speak is as important as talking to them. - from Saroh Ghoting's website.

Read Aloud
I See A Pattern Here by Bruce Goldstone
Now this book isn't your usual read aloud, I don't read every page, but talk about different kind of patterns and then we go around and with each child I point out what kind of pattern they might have on.  One has on a striped shirt, one has dots, another has on just a plain color, so we talk about how not everyone has a pattern on all the time, but we can see patterns when they are there.
Next I use Play by using a piece of puzzle and showing how you can slide a pattern, turn the pattern or flip it over. Then we play with markers and make our own patterns.
We’ll make an AB pattern an ABC and an ABB pattern. I choose purple and green and fill in an AB pattern and talk about what that is.  Then on the next line add a yellow marker and make an ABC pattern.  We finish by going back to just the green and purple and making an ABB pattern.

In between books we sing and dance, my group loves Laurie Berkner's The Goldfish song.

Read Aloud II
Red Car, Red Bus by Susan Steggall     
The book is fun to see how the different vehicles overtake each other and drive back and forth and see the pattern change.

We sing and dance with shakers.

Aside II
I pass out a book set or two and have the children read together, to each other, to their caregivers, to me.  We need to make sure that children have books in their hands, know how they work, pretend to read, and play with books so they are ready to learn to read when they get to Kindergarten.
Book sets - Checkers and Dot by J. Torres and Clap Hands by Helen Oxenbury

We play again with clapping and make a pattern by clapping, so we can move and have a lot of fun that way too.

Math Aside
Patterns are a key math skill our children need to know when they enter school. Patterns are things—numbers, shapes, images—that repeat in a logical way.  Patterns help children learn to make predictions, to understand what comes next, to make logical connections, and to use reasoning skills.
This information comes from the Zero to Three website

Here’s a website for helping preschoolers learn patterns.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Just in Time for Spring Training!

Two new baseball books published today by Sports Illustrated Kids are Baseball Then to Wow! and My First Book of Baseball.  They are both excellent books geared for two different age groups.
My First Book of Baseball is a Rookie Reader for the new reader.  The text is larger and some words are enhanced so they look like they are hand lettered and huge. There are smaller talk balloons for the players, so kids will be drawn in to read more around the page.  This helps children with short attention spans to roam around the page and find more interest. This title takes you through a game and takes on all the basics featuring many contemporary players in the photos. The student reading this book will learn vocabulary and lots of rules of the game.  The commentary of the books sounds like an announcer giving us play-by-play of a game we're watching.  This beginning reader book has tons of actions, bright photos with drawings and incorporates exciting word use, just right for your new reader.
Baseball Then to Wow! is for an older reader, third to sixth grade.  The editors of Sports Illustrated Kids did a great job grabbing your attention from the first.  There is an old 1854 baseball on the left and on the right side spread a brand new baseball, great comparison. It's set up with chapters: The Basics, The Players, Play Ball! and Fan-tastic!  It covers the history, the teams, the equipment, with drawings and photos, and a great deal of information bits about players that had specialties. It spotlights managers and staff, The Negro League, Girls League, Minor Leagues, and teams that have been leaders.  It goes on to share about food and other items that been names after players, baseball cards, and various other game day memorabilia.  What a fun book!
I enjoyed both of these books tremendously and will be able to recommend them to patrons when they come in looking for more info on America's favorite pastime.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Quick, Little Monkey!

Quick, Little Monkey! by Sarah L. Thomson, illustrated by Lita Judge is the sweetest thing.  Thomson's story is about a papa pygmy marmoset introducing his baby girl to the world.  He shows her how to swing from vine to vine, holding on tight, flying through their high, forest jungle.  He tells her where to hide, but she is curious about a flower that flies.  I love that part - it's really a butterfly.  The language is rhythmic, the art expressive.
The beautiful tangle of leaves and branches are drawn with graphite pencil and painted with watercolors.  As Little Monkey loses her hold and falls to the deep silence lower down she encounters more predators until Papa saves her.  I love the thoughtful, dramatic story and the poignant energy of the art and facial expressions.  Both generate suspense that the children will love.
There is a short author's note about pygmy marmosets in the back.  
I'll use this book with Preschool Storytime, with Kindergarteners, and with First and Second Graders.  Because of the care of the parent, the suspense, and tender qualities, it will be a favorite.  I'll recommend it to children, teachers, and parents with the same ages.
I also greatly appreciate, artistically, that Judge didn't let the other jungle animals with bolder colors overwhelm the monkeys in color or size with this book.  They are used appropriately when needed, like when the ocelot is staring at Little Monkey, you feel the impending doom.  Right there, no child will be able to draw their eyes away!  Or on the pages that the kids figure out that Little Monkey has grabbed onto a snake, not a vine! Books like this are a librarians dream! So I'll be recommending this title to other Children's Librarian's too!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Opposite Zoo

Opposite Zoo by Il Sung Na is a story about how a mischievous, little monkey explores the zoo at night.  On his journey he sees how the animals pair up in opposites.  With the monkey's door open at the beginning of the story, this title reminds me of Good Night Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann.
Some opposite pairings are predictable like the owl is awake and the panda is asleep; the sloth is slow and the cheetah is fast.  The hedgehog is prickly but it's put with the tiger who is soft, a mate that is not so expected.
The lion is hairy; the hippo is bald and so on.  
The artwork is done with pastel, deepening nighttime colors.  There are rich blending of hues with the animals colors with watercolors, markers, and colored pencils.  As always the foliage is masterfully made. Il Sung Na has a unique way of combining colors.  I especially love the purple and red on the cheetah and the sloth. The delightful merging of oranges and blues on the baboons and the multi-colored tortoise are exquisite.  We have a proficient artist making an early learning picture book on opposites.  What a treat for the preschool group.  
I'll use this in Storytime and Toddler Play time.  I'll recommend it to parents and preschool teachers that are teaching opposites.  
I'll also use this as an excellent example of art mastery for our young learners.  Just because it's art for children doesn't mean it has to be plain and simple art. It can be amazing mixtures of colors with a first-rate artist. 
Both pictures are from the artist's website.