Category Archives: picture books

Renato and the Lion

Renato_cover-350Renato loved his home in Florence, Italy.
He loved the people there. And the food there.
But he especially loved the art there.
It was everywhere.

This is how Barbara DiLorenzo begins her beautiful book, Renato and the Lion. Through beautiful watercolor images, DiLorenzo brings Florence, Italy to life. This gorgeous book sends us back to Florence during World War II, seen through the eyes of young Renato, who not only loves his homes, but especially loves the art work found throughout the magnificent city.

Renato’s father works at an art museum. As soldiers start to take over the city, men like Renato’s father encase famous sculptures in brick to protect them from damage. Renato’s favorite sculpture is a lion in the Piazza della Signoria who he desperately wants to protect. The lion weaves into Renato’s dreams and in the end, he does manage to help save the sculpture. Continue reading →

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Let it Snow!

Here in the south we don’t get a lot of snow, and that’s a good thing, because when we get even the slightest warning of a trace, the entire area FREAKS OUT! The problem is that people here don’t know how to drive well in the snow and there are not a lot of plows available, but it is kind of funny to watch.

panic room

With all that said and the fact that it is January, the snowiest month, I thought it would be appropriate to put together a collection of books about snow.

its snowignGail Gibbons is a master at writing non-fiction texts for kids that are still fun to read. In her book, It’s Snowing, young readers get a complete lesson in snow from how it forms, where it falls, different types of snow storms, and how to stay safe and have fun. Gibbons does a great job of breaking up the info so that kids of all ages can enjoy this book and get useful information that they are ready for. Continue reading →

#whatsyourgift – Leo’s Gift

Recently I was given the opportunity to review Leo’s Gift, by Susan Blackaby and Joellyn Cicciarelli, through the Kid Lit Exchange. The book moved me in a number of ways. I am a sucker for books about music, but also, since I freelance for OutreachNC, a magazine that often covers topics about caring for those with dementia and other memory issues, a book that illustrates how “music carves a memory” is something I feel strongly about.

leo's gift cover

There are so many pieces to this wonderful book! First off, the illustrations, by Carrie Schuler, are top notch. She captures so many emotions and concepts beautifully and it all feels so fresh. The story itself touches on a variety of topics from finding your passion to sharing your personal gifts with others. Young Leo doesn’t know what his gift is, but all children are encouraged to figure out their own special talents through this moving story.

The story itself starts with Meredith practicing piano and complaining about it. But her music touches her young brother, Leo, and Meredith manages to teach Leo some basics only to discover that Leo has a natural gift for the piano. Meredith’s true passion is basketball, and while she stays late to practice with the team, Leo finds the music room and his own time to practice. Continue reading →

Q&A with Ted Enik – Sticks ‘n’ Stones Blog Tour

Back this summer, my kids and I had a fun time reading Sticks ‘N Stone ‘N Dinosaur Bones. I saw this book as a must for the dinosaur lover and a great read-aloud. I could definitely see how this would get a classroom of kids talking about fact and fiction, competition, and the importance of fair play. So when I was offered the chance to participate in a blog tour for the book, I jumped at it.

I’m a huge fan of the use of rhyme to engage kids. Check out the wonderful interview with author Ted Enik below as he talks about his use of rhyme and meter!

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Welcome to Day #3 of the “Sticks ‘n’ Stones” Blog Tour

To celebrate the release of “Sticks ‘n’ Stones ‘n’ Dinosaur Bones,” written by Ted Enik and illustrated by G.F. Newland, blogs across the web are featuring exclusive content about this humorous tall tale and giving away chances to win a copy of “Sticks ‘n’ Stones ‘n’ Dinosaur Bones.”

Rhyming picture books are fun. Kids love them. Parents enjoy reading them out loud. Teachers know how well they engage children and teach them about language. But writing them isn’t as easy as it looks. Ted, author of “Sticks ‘n’ Stones ‘n’ Dinosaur Bones,” offers advice to writers who want to try to tackle rhyme.

Q: Do you believe rhyming picture books are being published more today? As a master of the genre, do you think picture book writers should try their hand at it?

A: More than they were only a few years back. Rhyme seemed to be off limits for decades because a) I suspect a generation of editors felt it read old fashioned and, b) in a word, Seuss.

Dunno about “master,” but thanks, and I’ll work to live up to that. As far as writers giving it a try goes, I want to say a qualified “sure!” But, looking ahead at the rest of the questions, I see that some of those qualifiers will be discussed.    Continue reading →

Diverse Books, Now More than Ever

Diverse Books,Now More Than Ever

Diversity in children’s literature has always held a strong place in my heart and is something that I promote at every possibility. When Charlottesville happened, I couldn’t wrap my head around how our country had seemingly traveled backwards in time. I went back to check out books that focused on diversity, that focused on the experiences of racism that African-Americans have faced in this country, I took comfort in how far children’s books have come to show inclusion instead of exclusion. It wasn’t enough, but it was a start. Continue reading →

Sukkot – the Fall Harvest Festival

Every fall, Jews around the world come together to celebrate Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, also known as the High Holidays. Five days after Yom Kippur is over, another holiday starts again, this time, it is the wonderful holiday of Sukkot.

Picture Booksabout Sukkot

Sukkot celebrates the fall harvest and the exodus from Egypt. Many families build their own sukkahs  or have one at their synagogue. A sukkah is a temporary hut topped with branches and decorated with autumnal, harvest, or Judaic themes. One mitzvah of sukkot is to share a meal in the sukkah. Another is to shake a lulav and etrog and rejoice before God. The lulav is actually made up of branches from palm (lulav), willow (aravot), and myrtle (hadassim) trees and the etrog is a citron fruit. The four items are meant to represent the various personalities that make up the community of Israel, whose intrinsic unity is emphasized on Sukkot. More than anything, sukkot is a holiday of coming together.

Since Sukkot is a holiday of community, it is a great time to come together and read a book to understand the many meanings of the holiday. Continue reading →

The Branch – Sharing an Experience

the_branch

I often pick up books at the library simply because they have that enticing yellow “new” sticker on them. I’m not sure exactly what drew me to “The Branch” by Mireille Messier and Pierre Pratt, but this is a wonderful book to share.

What is extraordinary about this book is that it shows a special multi-generational friendship between the little girl and her neighbor, and it encourages children to up-cycle a cherished item by turning it into something else.

When an ice storm snaps a small girl’s favorite branch from the tree in her yard, she’s crestfallen. The girl’s mom says it’s just a branch. But not to her! “That was the branch I sat on, jumped from, played under. It was my castle, my spy base, my ship . . .” the branch 1Luckily, her neighbor Mr. Frank understands. He says the branch has “potential.” “What’s potential?” she asks. “It means it’s worth keeping.” And so, with imagination and spirit, and Mr. Frank’s guidance and tools, the girl transforms the broken branch into something whole and new, giving it another purpose, and her another place to treasure.

Continue reading →

Hug it Out

Hug it out 3

Sibling love. Or rather, that constant scream a parent hears through the house – “Mommmmm!” If you have more than one child, there are bound to be times when you hear your children screaming at each other, unable to get along for one reason or another. Louis Thomas offers a great idea in his new book, Hug it Out.

size200_books_louisthomas_hugitout_detail1_1000_500 Continue reading →

You Can Do Anything – an inspirational tale with a Hip-Hop beat

One of the neat things about being an Independent Consultant with Usborne Books & More is coming across titles that I would never normally pick up, but that hold some pretty amazing messages. The newest in that category is Hip and Hop, You Can Do Anything, by Akala.

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Akala is an award winning UK Hip-Hop artist who also founded the Hip Hop Shakespeare company. As per their website, The Hip-Hop Shakespeare Company is a music theatre production company aimed at exploring the social, cultural and linguistic parallels between the works of William Shakespeare and that of modern day hip-hop artists. How cool is that? Continue reading →

A Little Dash of Confidence

genius fishBeing a kid is hard. Every day a new challenge comes around that might stop you in your tracks. How you deal with it is key.

There are a lot of books out these days about believing in yourself. I’ve written a bunch about the idea of believing in yourself in the past, but it is a topic that resonates with me and with children. When you are learning to do something new, it is so easy to just give up when it is hard, but where would that get you?

thing lou couldn't do coverNot giving up is the main focus of Ashley Spires’ new book, The Thing Lou Couldn’t Do (Kids Can Press, May 2017). In this story, Lou and her friends are brave adventurers who have big dreams and can do anything. Except that one day when they decide to play pirates, her friends suggest that the pirate ship be a tree and she has never climbed one before. Lou suggests other games, comes up with excuses why she can’t climb the tree, and finally admits to her friends that she just doesn’t know how. With a little help and encouragement, she decides that she will give it a try. What’s even better? Spires doesn’t actually show Lou getting up the tree. She gives it a go, still doesn’t make it, but she will be back another day to attempt it again. We loved Spires’ earlier book The Most Magnificent Thing, and this is a great addition to books about perseverance and determination. Continue reading →