Sunday, February 24, 2013

Really Good Graphic Novels for Kids

Ok, lets get it out there .... I am not a huge fan of the graphic novel.  This is not secret.  However, as the genre has evolved, I have been more and more impressed with what is being produced.  This week I actually found three graphic novels that excited me.  Two of them are downright funny in a clever and intelligent way and the third is a remake of a classic children's book, A Wrinkle in Time, which actually adds dimension to the original novel.

This first book I am profiling is a gem.  Kids will laugh, be engaged and learn about American history.  This is really one not to be missed ... you have been warned!

Title:       Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales: One Dead Spy

Author:   Nathan Hale

Target:    Grades 3-7

Series:     Yes.  You can see a review of the second book, Big Bad Ironclad on my son’s blog: one great book unplugged.

What this book is about:
Nathan Hale was America’s first spy during the Revolutionary War.  In real life he is captured and hung, but in our story, before he can be killed, he is sucked up into a huge history book, and when he returns he has read the future history of America (really - in the book it works.)  He then goes on to share with the executioner and the British soldier who has captured him, the story of the United States (or in this particular book, up to the battles for New York during the Revolutionary War.)

Why I love this book:
Well Nathan is surrounded by a very funny and endearing hangman who is just flabbergasted at every story Nathan shares with him.  His naiveté can be laugh out loud funny at times.  Our British soldier is quite pompous and sure that the British will prevail, even in the face of defeat.  They provide a great foil for the stories, although even throughout the narratives Hale has created larger than life personas to keep the history entertaining.  Your kids will learn quite a bit about American history without even knowing they are being taught.

Who this book is for:
Great book for all kids, but especially kids who like funny books and are interested in war or history.  However, this is not a prerequisite since Hale has managed to make  the history easily accessible and entertaining.

Final thoughts:
My kids are already begging me for the next book in the series!

To purchase this book, click on the following link to connect to Amazon Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales: One Dead Spy  A portion of each purchase goes back to support this blog.

Title:       Bird & Squirrel on the Run

Author:   James Burks

Target:    Grades 2-5

Series:      Not yet ... but I hope so

What this book is about:
Bird is a daredevil, an adventurer, a feathered creature who throws caution to the wind.  Squirrel is cautious, careful and likes to plan.  When Squirrel saves Bird from the evil cat, and looses his acorns for the winter in the process, he is forced to go south with Bird in order to survive.  What ensues is a very funny adventure, where Bird teaches Squirrel to loosen up and enjoy life.  Now if only our evil cat weren’t always waiting in the wings!

Why I love this book:
First off, I love graphic novels with full color graphics, and these drawings are crisp, clear and literally jump off the page.  Visually this book is a treat.  But the best part is that the story is equally fun.  Bird and Squirrel play off each other brilliantly, which keeps the laughs coming.  My middle son was reading this book in the car and just kept laughing out loud.  His brother couldn’t wait to grab the book as soon as he was done, or truthfully a little before he was done.

Who this book is for:
Kids who like graphic novels.  The book isn’t that long, so older kids will zip through it pretty fast.

Final thoughts:
Bird and Squirrel are a duo not to be missed!

To purchase this book, click on the following link to connect to Amazon: Bird & Squirrel on the Run  A portion of each purchase goes back to support this blog.

Title:       A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel

Adapted & Illustrated by:  Hope Larson

Target:    Grades 4-8

What this book is about:
This is a graphic novel adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle’s Newbery winning book, A Wrinkle in Time.  The novel stays very true to the original story.  For those unfamiliar with the story, it centers around a girl, Meg, who is looking for her father who has gone missing.  Meg, her brother Charles and friend Calvin are transported through time and space to battle the evil IT to retrieve her father and attempt to return home.

Why I love this book:
I loved this graphic novel.  I understand how many who love the original story might be wary of a graphic version, but it is so well done.  There are actually points in the story when the illustrations helped me better follow the narrative and I got sucked into this story to a greater degree than I did with the original.  The illustrations actually made it more relatable for me.  

Who this book is for:
This one is a little tougher.  I think if your child has already read the book, this version might easily give them a greater understanding of the story.  Also, if you loved the book and are having problems getting your child interested in the story, this version will certainly do a better job of pulling them in.  If kids have no knowledge of the original, the story might seem a bit farfetched and is probably best for a kid who likes sci-fi.

Final thoughts:
It is amazing to me how close this stayed to the original story - yet it added a new dimension to the tale.

To purchase this book, click on the following link to connect to Amazon: A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel  A portion of each purchase goes back to support this blog.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Twelve Hats for Lena

This week for Picture Book Friday I decided to go back to the archives and pull out a book by a celebrated young children's author, Karen Katz.  Her books for toddlers are adorably illustrated and beautifully interactive.  While my favorite toddler book of hers, Where Is Baby's Belly Button? is a book all little people and their parents must own, I thought I would focus on one of her less well known books, Twelve Hats for Lena.  My children were very taken by this book and its dog eared pages are a testiment to how much we all enjoyed it.

Title:       Twelve Hats for Lena

Author:   Karen Katz

Target:    Preschool - Kindergarten

What this book is about:
Lena Katz (yes she is related to the author) is making a hat for each month of the year.  Every two page spread represents a month with Lena modeling the hat she has created.  All of her hats are filled with items you might find in that month: hearts in February, flags in July, ghosts in October and December, well that hat needs a lot of extra room!

Why I love this book:
This is just a fun way to go through the months with your kids and have them associate those months with the big holidays and events that happen.  Karen's art is so charming, colorful and fanciful that it immediately catches a child's attention.  The text is not particularly inspired, but it is the pictures that draw kids to this book over and over again.

Who this book is for:
This is not a board book, so kids who are ages four to six would probably have the most fun with this.  Sadly the last page, which is a foldout, is not reinforced, and ours is almost torn to bits from the number of times it has been opened.

Final thoughts:
I always had the best of intentions of doing an art project around this book, it is just begging you to pull out construction paper and a glue stick.  Sadly my artistic aspirations never seem to line up with my actual abilities, so my kids were cut and paste deprived!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

When Only a Snarky Narrator Will Do!

Ok, who doesn't get a kick out of a snarky narrator.  You know the ones.  They remind you that they are doing you a favor by simply existing in the book you are reading.  They cry aghast at having to explain to you one more time why the main character must run away from the evil, bone crushing monster that is terroriszing the innocent and hard working townspeople.  They remind you of how intellectually stunted you are by defining words you probably already know, and by stunted I mean small, undersized or diminutive.

But without a doubt, these narrators are wonderful characters that add a certain snide charm to any book and create some laugh out loud moments for your children.  So bring on the snarky narrator and provide your kids with books they won't want to put down.

Title:       Vordak the Incomprehensible: How to Grow Up and Rule the World

Author:   Scott Seegert

Target:    Grades 3-6

Series:     Yes

What this book is about:
This book is handbook written in the voice of Vordak the Incomprehensible.  Keep in mind that he is an arrogant villain, whose tongue and cheek guide to ruling the world should be taken to the letter.  From creating your evil name, picking out your super villain costume, finding your lair, to talking to your arch nemesis in cliches, he has the perfect advice for ruling the world!

Why I love it:
This book is just plain funny.  I never stopped smiling while reading it, and I had to wait my turn, my kids wouldn’t give it up.  Vordak is the perfect voice, with his diabolical plans given in the form of serious wisdom!  The jokes are a bit repetitious, but I do have to say that they get funnier as the book goes on and remain clever to the end.  Of course you have to love the irony that despite his egotism, Vordak is a completely unsuccessful villain.

Who this book is for:
Kids who liked Wimpy Kid will enjoy this.  Lots of graphics and silly laughs.  Great for reluctant readers because of the handbook format.

Final thoughts:
MUAHAHAHAHAHAH (my evil laugh!)  Once your kids get their hands on this book, beware!

To purchase this book, click on the following link to connect to Amazon: Vordak the Incomprehensible: How to Grow Up and Rule the World  A portion of each purchase goes to support this blog at no cost to you!

Title:       The Templeton Twins

Author:   Ellis Weiner

Target:    Grades 3-6

Series:    This is the first book in a planned series

What this book is about:
The Templeton twins are a boy and a girl who have quite a lot of ideas.  John likes to build contraptions and play the drums.  His sister Abigail has a way with words and likes to solve cryptic crossword puzzles.  Now suppose they are kidnapped by an evil man (who is definitely not a genius) by the name of Dean D. Dean, to get ahold of one of their father’s inventions.  Did I mention their father is an absent minded professor and inventor?  What would the twins come up with to get out of this pickle, and by pickle I mean dilemma!

Why I love this book:
First off, the book is told in the most sarcastic and snarky tone by our “narrator,” who frankly is doing us quite a service by even writing this story down.  The narrator speaks to the reader as if they are sitting across from him, answering implied questions, defining the meaning of words and phrases, and looking for a compliment at every turn.  It is quite reminiscent, but even more snide, than our narrator in A Series of Unfortunate Events!

This book is also funny.  I started turning down the pages I thought my kids would chuckle over, and before I knew it, most of my book was dog eared!  The personalities are over the top and the twins are quite likable.

Who this book is for:
Fans of Lemony Snicket will enjoy this series.  It is told in the same style as those books.  Also, anyone who enjoys a little snarky humor!

Final thoughts:
An acerbic narrator, twins, an absent minded professor, a fumbling villain and a ridiculous dog - really what is not to love!

To purchase this book, click on the following link to connect to Amazon: The Templeton Twins Have an Idea: Book One  A portion of each purchase goes to support this blog at no cost to you.

Friday, February 15, 2013

President's Day Picture Books

Ok, I have a confession.  I profiled these books last year, and I hate not having new selections for my readers.  But I must tell you that looking at the new offerings, these are still my favorites.  Sometimes new does not mean better, and in the case of presidential picture books, these are still the ones that kick some tushie (I know, not a technical term but there are kids reading this blog!)

So for the second year in a row (don't judge me,) here are my favorite picture books for President's Day.

Title:          Looking at Lincoln
Author:     Maira Kalman
Target:       Kindergarten and up
What this book is about:
A young girl goes on a journey to find out more about Abraham Lincoln.  Along the way she discovers he likes vanilla cake and tall hats where he can put his notes.  She also learns about his beliefs in freedom, his encounters with Sojourner Truth and Frederick Douglas, and the terrible cost of war.  Finally she learns that “a great man is never really gone.”
Why I love it:
Ok, the end of this picture book made me cry, but in a wonderful way, and if you have ever been to the Lincoln Memorial and been awed by that statue, yo
u too will tear up  I am afraid.  If you have ever read my blog you will know that I am a devotee of Maira Kalman and this book is another beautiful work by her.  It interweaves whimsy with history and poignancy in a way that no other book on the subject has done.
Who this book is for:
All children will find something to like in this book, and it doesn’t feel like a history lesson, although it is.
Final thoughts:
There is a reason that there are 16,000 books written about Lincoln.  He is a man worth knowing about.

To purchase this book, visit your local bookstore or click here: Looking at LincolnA portion of each purchase goes back to support this blog.

Title:          John, Paul, George & Ben
Author:     Lane Smith

Target:       Grade 1-4
What this book is about:
Lane Smith takes well known facts about our founding fathers and shows us how they manifested themselves when these men were boys.  John Hancock's large handwriting in school, Paul Revere’s booming voice as he repeats a customer’s order “Here they are.  Great big extra-large underwear!”  In the back of the book there is also a nice little review of each founding father along with a true or false section that was a blast for my kids.
Why I love this book:
Hilarious!  Not only did my kids learn some fun facts about some very important men in our history, they did it with smiles on their faces.  This is not a history lesson per say, but it will acquaint them with these historical figures and the roles they played.
Who this book is for:
Kids who want a fun introduction to the founding fathers
Final thoughts:
What parent wont enjoy the clever Beatle references throughout!

To purchase this book, visit you local bookstore or click here: John, Paul, George & BenA portion of each purchase goes back to support this blog.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Cybils Middle Grade Fiction Award Winner

Well the votes are counted, the discussions concluded, and the winner of the Cybils award for middle grade fiction is ...... Wonder!  I am thrilled with the winner.  I have posted a review that I wrote of the book back in April of last year - yes it was a favorite even then.

The Cybils Award picks books of merit that kids will actually read and I have no doubt that your children will be surprised at how much they enjoy this book.

Being a judge was such a treat and a learning experience for me.  A huge thank you to Ms Yingling for selecting me as part of the Middle Grade Fiction team this year.  As a blogger, I work in such an insulated world that I found the exchange of ideas on these books refreshing and enlightening.  I really have to get out more.


Don't forget to check out all the winners on the Cybils site.  They continue to be a wonderful resource for great books for your kids from picture books to YA!  Congratulations to all the winners.

Title:          Wonder
Author:       R. J. Palacio
Target:       Grade 3-6
Series:        No
What this book is about:
Auggie Pullman is about to enter fifth grade at the first real school he has ever been to.  He has been home schooled up to this point because he was born with a facial deformity so severe it prevented him from going to a mainstream school.  We are there as Auggie faces the challenges and we learn he is just an ordinary kid with an extraordinary face.
Why I love this book:
As a parent, I usually shy away from books where the kids have to go through extraordinary challenges such as this, it just pulls too hard on my parent heartstrings.  However, I am so glad that I didn’t shy away from Wonder!  It is told in the voice of Auggie as well as some of the other young characters.  When you get the viewpoints of several different young people to the same scene, it allows kids to see that there is more than one way to look at a situation.  It is a wonderful way to teach empathy, something this book does in spades
Auggie’s voice rings true and I grew to love him throughout the book and see both his challenges and those of his family and friends.  But the book also shows us the humor and love that surrounds this family.  There are actually some laugh out loud moments.  Ultimately the story shows you how similar we all are in side!
Who this book is for:
Great book for any reader.  The voices feel authentic so kids will easily see themselves and others in the story.  The action and events also move at a good pace.  I must note that my fourth grade son loved it, so it is not a story that only speaks to adults.  My son actually snuck into his room to read it one day because he told me he couldn’t wait to finish it!  Now if that isn’t a resounding recommendation for this fabulous book, I don’t know what is!
Final thoughts:
This book is so thoughtful and well done, with a voice that a child will hear and understand!  One of my favorites so far this year. 

To purchase this book, please visit your local bookstore or click here to connect directly to Amazon: Wonder, a portion of your purchase goes back to support this blog!

Monday, February 11, 2013

President's Day Books for Kids

With President's Day fast approaching, I thought I would take the time to share some great presidential books with you.  Chasing Lincoln's Killer I have blogged on before, but it is such a compelling book I wanted to post it again for those who may have missed it.    Where Do President's Come From? is one of those very engaging books that will teach kids about the presidency, but they will never feel as though they are being taught.  And Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas is just a wonderful non-fiction book for older kid that profiles a friendship that changed a nation.

Not a bad selection if I do say so myself.  History can be so compelling and these books deliver the stories in humorous and action packed ways that will intrigue, engage and ultimately educated your kids.

Title:       Where Do Presidents Come From?

Author:   Michael Townsend

Target:    Grades 4-6

Series:     No

What this book is about:
This is a hilarious comic book version of the founding of our democracy all the way to explaining what presidents actually do!  In this book kids learn about the daily life of a president, the pros and cons of the job, how Washington scored the position and even some very useful things including the three branches of government, the electoral college and the Constitution.

Why I love this book:
This book is clever and funny while actually teaching kids.  There are some wonderful gags that run through the book along with some great one liners that will have kids laughing out loud.  The best part is, that in the end, they will have actually learned quite a lot.  Even I was thoroughly amazed by the amount of material Townsend was able to cover in a way that kids will enjoy.  

Who this book is for:
Great for all kids, because the comic format makes it feel more fun that non fiction.  My fifth grade son not only read it willingly, but he didn’t want to put it down when it was time for bed.

Final thoughts:
Why couldn’t we have had books like this when I was a kid!

To purchase this book, click on the following link to connect to Amazon: Where Do Presidents Come From?: And Other Presidential Stuff of Super Great Importance  A portion of each purchase goes to support this blog.

Title:          Chasing Lincoln’s Killer
Author:      James L. Swanson
Target:       Grade 5-8
Series:         No
What this book is about:
This is a historical account of the assassination of President Lincoln and the twelve day manhunt for his killer.  It was adapted from Swanson’s adult book “Manhunt.”  
Why I love this book:
Wow, this was a true historical thriller.  It had action, suspense and intrigue!  While I knew the basic story, this book filled me in so much more on the plot, the other intended victims and the lack of organization surrounding John Wilkes Booth.  The fact that it was true made it all the more amazing and I didn’t want to put it down.  I read it non stop in one afternoon!
Who this book is for:
This book is not for squeamish kids.  The author makes a note in the back that he left in enough blood and gore so that kids would love it, but not so much that parents would “flip out!”  But be warned, it is graphic in it’s depictions.
Final thoughts:
This inspired me to learn more, which the best books will do!

To purchase this book, click on the following link to connect to Amazon: Chasing Lincoln's KillerA portion of each purchase goes to support this blog.

Title:       Abraham Lincoln & Frederick Douglass

Author:   Russell Freedman

Target:    Grades 6 and up

What this book is about:
This is a book about the friendship and admiration which develops between Lincoln and Douglass over the course of their lifetimes.  The perspective and story shifts from Douglass to Lincoln throughout the book,  sharing the life of each man and the things which influenced the people they would become.  It also details their relatively few encounters, whose impact left a lasting impression on both men.  It is amazing to see the similarities in their upbringing and the perpectives they bring to the debate, Douglass from the plight of the slave and Lincoln in his attempt to delicately move a stubborn nation forward.

Why I love this book:
There are so many books about Lincoln, but amazingly this one brought something new to the table for me.  I learned about how Lincoln balanced his personal beliefs with a country that could only move at a certain pace.  Freedman contrasts this with Douglass who watched decades of oppretion and was not willing to be as patient in ending the horrors of slavery.  The story of these two men, with the utmost respect for each other and with their ability to influence each other after only a few encounters, is compelling.  I finished this book with such a greater understanding of the events than when I started.

Who this book is for:
There are a limited number of graphic details in the book relating to slavery and war which could be upsetting, so I would recommend it for an older audience.  I also think the messages in this book are a bit too complex for a younger student to grasp.

Final thoughts:
I learned quite a bit after finishing this book, but I never felt I was being taught!

To purchase this book, click on the following link to connect to Amazon: Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass: The Story Behind an American Friendship  A portion of each purchase goes to support this blog.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Valentine's Day Picture Books

Valentine's Day is almost upon us.  This is a tough holiday for me in terms of books.  As many of you are aware, I am not really into the mushy, pull at your heartstrings, show pictures of cute little bunnies and kitties kind of books.  And Valentine's Day tends to bring out these books in droves.

Well, this year I was happily surprised with a very funny Valentine's book that made our whole family laugh.  Imagine that!  I also got suckered into a lovely book that did touch my sentimental side (yes I have one)  but this is the last we will talk about it.

So here are my two Valentine's must have books for the holiday.

Title:       The Yuckiest, Stinkiest, Best Valentine Ever

Author:    Brenda A. Ferber

Target:     Preschool - Grade 3

What this book is about:
Leon has a very big crush on Zoe Maloney.  When he tries to make her a Valentine proclaiming his love, that Valentine runs away - aghast that Leon would tell Zoe that he loves her!  Our Valentine thinks it is mushy, gross and just plain YUCKY!  As Leon chases his Valentine down the road, our renegade heart is chanting “Love is yucky.  Stinky too.  It will turn your brain to goo!”  After several fun encounters during the chase, Leon runs into Zoe.  Will love prevail?

Why I love this book:
This is such an entertaining book for kids who on the one hand like the idea of love on Valentine’s Day, but on the other hand are completely embarrassed and disgusted by it.  It is funny, right on point, and of course the ending doesn’t disappoint.  

I dare kids not to laugh, and get completely caught up in the fabulous illustrations by Tedd Arnold.  They are bold, colorful and perfectly expressive.

Who this book is for:
Great for all kids and it would make a great read aloud for Valentines Day!

Final thoughts:
”Love is yummy,  Love’s divine.  Won’t you be my Valentine?”

To purchase this book, click on the following link to connect to Amazon: The Yuckiest, Stinkiest, Best Valentine Ever  A portion of each purchase goes to support this blog.

Title:       Plant a Kiss

Author:   Amy Krouse Rosenthal

Target:    Preschool - Kindergarten

What this book is about:
Little Miss plants a kiss - sunshine, water, greet, repeat!  From that kiss grows something lovely.  Others don’t want her to share for fear it’s far too rare and it will go bare.  But Little Miss is not afraid and when all the blooms from the plant are distributed, she finds that it has grown far beyond her expectations!

Why I love this book:
Ok, this is my one sappy book for the year.  Generally I am not fond of the mushy titles but this one was cute enough to recommend.  The glitter on each page is a magical touch and it is such a sweet message that love shared grows bigger.

Who this book is for:
For any parent/child who enjoys a winsome, endearing story.

Final thoughts:
This book is short and sparkly!

To purchase this book, click on the following link to connect to Amazon: Plant a Kiss  A portion of each purchase goes to support this blog.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Calling All Early Readers

I love a great early reader.  As kids are learning to read, they want to feel a sense of independence and accomplishment.  They also want to tackle big kid books.  They feel proud when they can turn to the last page and know that they finished a book all by themselves.

Successful early reader books have few words per page and illustrations that help the child decode the words and understand the story.  They also have a fun narrative that is worth working through and some humor as a reward.

I am profiling three early readers that I love this week.  One I am reposting from a previous blog because it just won a very prestigious award, the Theodor Geisel, given to distinguished beginning readers - although all three are award winners or honorees.  An award doesn't necessarily mean your child will enjoy the book, but in the case of these three, I am pleased to say that they are both distinguished and appeal to children.

So let the reading begin!

Title:       Let’s Go for a Drive

Author:   Mo Willems

Target:    Preschool - Grade 1

Series:     Yes

Theodor Geisel Honor Book

What this book is about:
In the latest Elephant & Piggie book, Elephant decides that they need to go for a drive.  As they collect everything they need for the trip, they do not realize until the end that the one thing they are missing is, in fact, a car!  What will they do now?

Why I love this book:
First off these books are just fun and funny.  With only 6 words per page, Willems manages to create a wonderful storyline that is clever and complete.  The illustrations add so much to the story, and the fact that he has carried the fun to the inside book covers, just keeps the cleverness going!  Don’t forget to check them out.

Who this book is for:
These books are for children just learning to read.  Most of the words are simple and are repeated but he does throw in some challenge words.

Final thoughts:
Just when I think Willems may run out of ideas for these two fabulous friends, he comes up with a new and quick-witted story!

To purchase this book click on the following link to connect to Amazon: Let's Go for a Drive! (An Elephant and Piggie Book)  A portion of each purchase goes to support this blog.

Title:       Rabbit & Robot

Author:   Cece Bell

Target:    Kindergarten - Grade 2

Series:     Not yet

Theodore Geisel Honor Book

What this book is about:
Rabbit and Robot are friends.  When Rabbit invites Robot over for a sleepover, he makes a list of all the activities they will do.  When things don’t go as planned, Rabbit has a hard time adjusting.  But with the help of Robot, Rabbit finds that even if they can’t do everything on the list perfectly, they can still have a great time!

Why I love this book:
Think Frog and Toad for a new generation.  Rabbit is obsessed with following the rules, but Robot is able to show him that it’s ok to go with flow.  This is a nice message, especially for kids like mine who are obsessive about following requirements to the letter.  I wish they had a Robot to help them ease up a bit!

It is a cute story that shows the challenges and rewards of friendship without ever being preachy or feeling like a lesson.  

Who this book is for:
Kids starting chapter books.  The story is divided into four simple chapters.  There are lots of pictures, almost on every page, and a text that is not overwhelming.  

Final thoughts:
1. write blog, 2. eat lunch, 3. pick up kids - perhaps I am little more like rabbit than I would like to admit!

To purchase this book, click on the following link to connect to Amazon: Rabbit and Robot: The Sleepover  A portion of each purchase goes to support this blog.

Title:        Up! Tall! and High!

Author:    Ethan Long

Target:     Kindergarten - Grade 1

Series:      Not at this point

Theodor Geisel Medal

What this book is about:
This book has three short stories that feature our bird friends.  The first story features the word “tall” and a bird tries to get in on the action by wearing stilts.  When he is called out, he puffs up his features and declares that he is indeed not small.  The second story is about the word “high” and the penguin laments that he cannot fly so he cannot go high.  However thanks the quick thinking of his friend, he is able to go very high.  The final story is about the word “up” and a bird sits up in a tree.  Unfortunately a friend decides to join him and that changes everything.

Why I love this book:
First I love it when books with few words are able to deliver a clever story with humor.  This is almost impossible to do, yet Long does it sooooo well.  I also love that the book has flaps that make the pages higher and lower at the appropriate times.  This just adds another fun dimension to the book.

The illustrations are bright, colorful and simple which will make the books very appealing to this age group.

Who this book is for:
Kids just learning to read, who are not yet ready for chapter books.

Final thoughts:
Clever and funny!

To purchase this book, click the following link to connect to Amazon: Up, Tall and High  A portion of each purchase goes to support this blog!

Friday, February 1, 2013

The Scrambled States on Picture Book Friday

Two, yes two - this week you get two books for the price of one!  Last week on Picture Book Friday I shared my love of author Amy Krouse Rosenthal.  Well this week I am spreading the adoration over to Laurie Keller and the two books that are beloved in our home.  I got so inspired when I saw that one of her picture books, Arnie the Doughnut, has been made into a chapter book that I can't keep this talented author/illustrator to myself any longer!!  Sadly her chapter book does not come out until June, but it gives you time to get acquainted with her wonderful work.

I also want to highlight that these picture books are ones that older kids will adore.  The Scrambled States of America is a great fit for fifth graders who are learning about the states and they will probably get quite a bit more of the humor than younger children.

Title:       The Scrambled States of America

Author:   Laurie Keller

Target:    Any age

Series:     Yes there is a sequel, The Scrambled States of America Talent Show

What this book is about:
One day Kansas gets bored.  He realizes that he never does anything new, he never goes anywhere.  After some deliberation with Nebraska, they decide to have a “get to know” you party with the other 48 states.  At the party the suggestion comes up to trade places for a while, to see different parts of the country - shake things up a bit.  Well it turns they are best suited for the original locations, but not without some funny adventures and of course a romance!

Why I love this book:
While the premise of this book is perfect, and the prose is funny, clever and home spun, the best part of this book are the illustrations and the small asides on every single page.  Those little side comments from just about every character or state pictured make the book hilarious, and as a parent, be rest assured that your child will not let you stop until you have read every single one!  But I promise, you really won’t mind.

Who this book is for:
This book is informative and clever enough for older kids, but younger kids will also love it.  This is one of the few picture books that will, without a doubt, be enjoyed by all age groups in a family.

Final thoughts:
Missouri and Nevada - talk about a long distance romance!

To purchase this book click on the following to connect to Amazon: The Scrambled States of America  A portion of each purchase goes to support this blog.

Title:       Arnie the Doughnut

Author:   Laurie Keller

Target:    Any age

What this book is about:
Arnie the doughnut is having a fine time being cooked up and then socializing with all the other pastries at the bakery.  When he gets purchased, he looks forward to a new friend and a new adventure.  However, imagine his horror when he realizes that his new owner intends to EAT HIM!  What ensues is a discussion on how Arnie can fit into his new home, if he is not going to be consumed.  Just what can a doughnut do around the house?

Why I love this book:
Laurie Keller’s strength is in the wonderful asides throughout the book that add funny and endearing touches to the story.  Additionally, what kid isn’t going to feel for Arnie, just a good ol’ doughnut, whose world is turned upside down when he finds out he is someone’s snack!  Of course, as they try to find funny and ridiculous uses for Arnie around the house, kids will love the creativity and eventual solution!

Who this book is for:
Can’t imagine any kid not enjoying this book.

Final thoughts:
Arnie the Doughnut is one sweet story!

To purchase this book,click of the following link to connect to Amazon: Arnie, the Doughnut (Adventures of Arnie the Doughnut)  A portion of each purchase goes to support this blog.