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Monday, September 22, 2014

Marvelous Monday

There Once Was A Cowpoke Who Swallowed an Ant by Helen Ketteman, illustrations by Will Terry is deliciously wild.  It's a new take on the "Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly."  I love the pairing of Ketteman and Terry.  I've shared their books in first and second grades and the kids respond so well to the stories and the art.  Probably our favorite was "The Three Little Gators" with the big bottom boar.  There is nothing so great as a wild animal that mashes other animals' houses with its butt.  This title has a distinctive southwest flavor with the roadrunner, boar, 'dillo, and lizard.  This year with my outreach I'm using variants of old tales.  There Once Was a Cowpoke... will hit if off well with the kids too.  I love Terry's use of perspective and I thought I knew where the story was going when I saw the outhouse, but I was tricked!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Friday Favorites

Gravity by Jason Chin is amazing.  It's a picture book, but in the non-fiction area, so teachers, heads up!  If you want to use his books in your classroom check here, for standards and ideas. The art is incredible along with the topic.  What a great book to introduce the science and then expand on it with fascinating watercolors.  It will catch your student's curiosity and encourage them to find out more about the subject.  There are author notes and a bibliography in the back.  Chin has an awesome eye for perspective and is so clever about capturing our mind with wonder.  I'll use this book with preschool to 4th or 5th graders.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Thoughtful Thursday

The Problem with NOT Being Scared of Monsters by Dan Richards, illustrations by Robert Neubecker is a silly story about how monsters have just taken over this poor kid's life. He can't study, eat, play, or do anything because once you're friends with the monsters, they just don't leave you alone.  Until you get them to want to be friends with the next guy.
The pen and ink drawings on watercolor paper were colored on a Macintosh and are just delightful. With his trademark cartoon style, the illustrations bring out the monsters character and quirkiness.  I'll use this with the preschool set to second grade.  They'll appreciate the irony of being afraid of not being afraid of monsters.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Wonderful Wednesday

Ollie's First Year by Jonathon London, illustrations by Jon Van Zyle is a frolic through the first year of this charming otter's life. Through the beautiful seasons we follow Ollie from his first dip in the river to playing with his siblings to an almost catastrophic trip down the river in winter.
The realistic paintings, which I think are oil or acrylic, are breathtaking.  My favorite is the autumn scene.  For children that love to read about real animals, this is a terrific addition for Preschool to third graders.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Terrific Tuesday

Lily a true story of courage and the Joplin Tornado by Carolyn E. Mueller, illustrated by Nick Hayes is the story of Lily and Tara. Lily a rescue dog that learned to rescue others is the highlight of this story.  Hayes cartoon illustrations add dimension to this serious story.  It doesn't make it a lighthearted read, just a bit lighter in severe circumstances.  I'll keep this title in mind for next year when the Summer Reading Theme may have a 'hero' angle.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Marvelous Monday

Ratpunzel by Charlotte Guillain, illustrated by Dawn Beacon is an animal version of the well known tale of Rapunzel.  In this title there is a beautiful rat kept captive by the mean cat.  Instead of letting down her hair, it's a tail and when Prince Ratdolph hears this beautiful voice he is riding through the forest on a rabbit. 
I fancied the colorful art. It's quirky and fun and the story stays fairly close to the traditional telling of Rapunzel, just with animals.
I think children and parents will enjoy this story and its cohort, Rumplesnakeskin by the same artist, author duo with their interesting twist to these stories.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Friday Favorites

The Swamp Where Gator Hides by Marianne Berkes, illustrated by Roberta Baird is a bewitching book.  In a "This is the House That Jack Built' read-alike style, the text makes a rhyming wrap around your senses with sounds and description while the digital art takes you through a visual swamp.  We follow the gator through the muddy murk in anticipation of its mealtime choice. 

There is information on swamps and all the animals encountered in the story, plus tips from the Author and Illustrator.  Although the story itself stands up, the added non-fiction information and tips are like icing on the cake.  The explanation in the Illustrator's tips about how digital art is created is especially enlightening. The Author's sharing about cumulative story, rhyming, sequencing and puppets is a welcome addition for librarians and teachers.  

There is an amazing amount of activities at the publisher's website, here, for teachers. I can't wait to see what I can use for sharing in Storytime or when I do outreach at the schools. Here's a shout-out to teachers looking for Science connections - this publisher, Dawn Publications, has them!