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Posts from the ‘Picture Books’ Category

Balderdash! John Newbery & the Boisterous Birth of Children’s Books by Michelle Markel


The Newbery Award isBalderdash something I look forward to each year. And this picture book is definitely a must read for anyone who follows the Newbery Award! Michelle Markel created a wonderful tribute and contribution to children’s literature with BALDERDASH! John Newbery and the Boisterous Birth of Children’s Books. John Newbery was an author and publisher of children’s books in the 18th century. Contrary to most authors and publishers at the time, Newbery believed that children’s books should engaging, entertaining, and fun. This picture book biography celebrates Newbery’s contributions to children’s literature – reflected through the boisterous and imaginative illustrations. FUN is at the heart of this book, and what a beautiful reminder of the world of possibilities in children’s literature — books full of games, stories, math and science (John Newbery was a big proponent of science books for kids). Teachers who run Mock Newbery Clubs in their classrooms will appreciate this addition to their unit, helping students learn about John Newbery and the reasons behind this prestigious award. Definitely check out the ALA Newbery Medal Home Page and read about the past awards (you’ll probably have to add some books to your TBR book lists!). I also wrote about the 2017 Honorable Mention Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk in my Top Ten Middle Grade Books of 2016.


Thank you Bear by Greg Foley


Thank You BearSimplicity. And a thank you. This is a sweet story of a bear with a box. What is inside? It’s a mystery, but Bear is certain that it is perfect for Mouse. Sadly, Bear meets some fellow animals along the way who aren’t so sure and cause some doubt. Bear becomes worried that his gift won’t be as wonderful as he thought it would be. But Bear’s initial instinct is right. He knows his friend and he has the perfect gift for Mouse. The illustrations are expressive and simple – colors against a warm white background, showing each character in detail. The text is large for young eyes learning to read letters. And the story is a perfect tale of generosity and thoughtfulness, highlighting a kind spirit and the value of friendship. Greg Foley created a lovely tale for young readers and also a thoughtful tale for older readers too. Kindness, friendship, generosity, thoughtfulness. Thank You Bear.

Be a Friend by Salina Yoon


What are you reading?

Be a FriendToday, I am thinking about friendship. And this is a book at the top of my list for young readers on the topic of friendship. Yes, Be a Friend by Salina Yoon is a must read – you need this book for your classroom, now matter what you teach! Read about this book (and its numerous awards & accolates) at Salina Yoon’s website. At its core, Be a Friend is a story about self-acceptance, courage, and being a friend. Dennis is “different.” He mimes while others show and tell. He is a tree while other children climb the tree. He is different from everyone else, and here lies the loneliness of this picture book. But Dennis meets Joy, and a friendship is formed. Joy accepts Dennis just as he is, and Dennis & Joy create a bond. The illustrations are inviting, and readers will quickly recognize the important words in large red typeface, matching the important title BE A FRIEND. After you read this book, you must head over to youtube and watch Emily Arrow’s song – yes a SONG – about Dennis’ story Be a Friend. So adorable and young reader will love every moment and find themselves singing along about this special friendship! Celebrate friends today and read this book to YOUR FRIENDS!

Go to Sleep, Little Farm by Mary Lyn Ray


What are you reading today?

Go to Sleep Little FarmGo to Sleep, Little Farm, by Mary Lyn Ray, is a nighttime story reminiscient of classics like Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown and Time for Bed by Mem Fox. Animals are getting ready for bed, all across the farm and the forests, just as little ones are getting ready for bed. Illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal (one of my favorite illustrators and the reason I picked up this book!) the artwork has a blue palette that carries throughout, and mixed media illustrations that have a retro feel to them. The pages are simple, yet full of details that create a mood of sleepytime for all of the animals. You will find dusk falling, shadows stretching, and animals ready to curl up and sleep while little ones are tucked in for bed. A beautiful story for bedtime.


The Water Princess by Susan Verde


What are you reading today?

The Water PrincessAs soon as I saw this cover, on a blog of upcoming picture books, I knew that I would need to own this book. How precious is water? Just what does it mean to leave your village every morning in search of clean water? Inspired by the childhood experience of Georgie Badiel, The Water Princess takes readers on a journey for water, illuminating the experience – and the struggle – that people face every day. Georgie’s kingdom is “The African sky. The dusty earth.” She dreams of “flowing, cool, crystal-clear water” that is not found miles away but instead, in a well in her own village. This is a story of hope for clean drinking water for all children. Susan Verde’s powerful text and Peter Reynolds’ beautiful, full page illustrations bring this story to life and invite the readers to explore this topic, have important conversations, and look for ways to help make a difference in the lives of others. The author’s note at the end includes images of children carrying water on their heads and Georgie pumping water from a new well built through her foundation. You can find more information at and I hope that this book will find its way into classrooms, libraries, and homes where young readers will be inspired to learn, discover, and make a change.

Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner


What are you reading today?

Over and Under the SnowOh, it is time for snow! Not exactly where I live in the central valley (we are more like to have fog blanket our valley floor), but there is snow in the Sierras! This beautiful picture book will have you mesmerized by the secret world under the white snow – a world filled with squirrels, rabbits, bullfrogs, all safe and warm (and out of sight). Kate Messner is one of my favorites and so is Christopher Silas Neal, who illustrated the beautiful snowy pictures of a child and her father, skiing over the snow and the animal homes underneath. The simple text and striking illustrations tell the story of the subnivean zone, where animals depend on the network of open spaces between the snowpack and the ground to keep them insulated and safe in the cold weather. Kate Messner also includes an Author’s Note and a list of animals who “really do eat, sleep, hide, and play over and under the winter snow.” She also includes further reading resources for kids who want to find out more about animals in winter. This is a great addition to home libraries as well as classroom libraries (I can see this book in science centers) – now, let’s learn about winter!

Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat by Javaka Steptoe

Radiant Child


What are you reading today?

Javaka Steptoe’s book about Jean-Michel Basquiat and his art will captivate readers, especially with the bold, colorful, striking collage-style painting. This book invites the reader to learn more about Jean-Michel and his life. This is a book about creating art, and one can’t help but ask the question, what is beautiful? What is art? Jean-Michel’s answers will inspire and engage the reader. He found art all around him, and constantly created new and surprising collages and art. Steptoe creates her own art in honor of Jean-Michel, using inspiration from his personal life and work. Don’t miss the Author’s Note, as Javaka Steptoe details her own inspiration found through Basquait’s story and artwork. Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat won the 2016 Caldecott Medal – a well-deserved honor.

Mr. George Baker…..The Reader


What are you reading today?

mr-george-bakerMr. George Baker by Amy Hest, illustrated by Jon J Muth. This is a moving story of friendship, kindness, and literacy – at all ages. Mr. George Baker is 100 years old, a man with a “Tappidy-boom-boom-tap” enthusiasm for life and his friendship with young Harry. Patiently, we watch Mr. George Baker and Harry wait for the school bus, practice tying shoes, take a dancing step with the lovely Mrs. Baker who brings George his lunch, and finally board the bus in anticipation of learning to read. This is a task which is hard, but as George says, “we can do it.” There is so much to enjoy in this beautifully illustrated picture book. I love the positive portrayal of age in the story, as Harry looks up to Mr. George Baker and we see how closely the two are connected, despite the 95 years between them. We also see just how important literacy is and the belief that we can always, always learn new things. This is a story of lifelong learners. It is an excellent addition to the classroom at all levels – young readers and adults too!

Gobble Gobble! Sharing a Thanksgiving Picture Book

Happy Thanksgiving and Gobble Gobble Gobble!

As a Thanksgiving “thank you for reading” I want to share a fun Thanksgiving picture book.

bear-says-thanksBear Says Thanks, written by Karma Wilson and illustrated by Jane Chapman, is a story of gratitude. The story is simple and the message is important. Bear wants to say thank you to his friends so he plans a feast! He invites his friends who show up one by one, with food to share, yet Bear’s cupboards are bare and he has nothing to contribute. What is Bear to do? Bear’s friends point out his special gifts that contribute to the celebration. This story of friendship and gratitude is perfect for young readers (and their parents and teachers!). The illustrations are inviting and engaging, contributing to the message that Bear and his friends share with each other – the power of friendship and a simple thank you. While Thanksgiving is not mentioned by name in this book, the story is a perfect reminder of why we celebrate Thanksgiving with our friends and family.

And just for more turkey fun, be sure to check out the Goodreads Best Children’s Thanksgiving Books – of course, I do love Listopia, and a huge thank you to all the fabulous readers who contribute on Goodreads every day!


Happy Thanksgiving!

Blackout by John Rocco


What are you reading today?

blackoutWell, the weather doesn’t make sense I know, since it has turned chilly where I live and this book is set in summer time, but I just can’t resist! I love this book! If you haven’t read Blackout, by John Rocco, you need to head to the library. Blackout is the story of a summertime blackout in the city, when everyone is much to busy with their own projects to talk, play, or eat together. But when the lights go out, everything changes. Suddenly, the family is together and making shadow puppets, playing games, and hunting for stars outside above the rooftops. A great story about the importance of imagination, small moments, and time spent with family (away from electricity and all of the electronics that dominate our lives!). The illustrations in Blackout are special. Some pages are panels while others are full bleed illustrations. All of them capture the darkness and the light in ways that delight and surprise the reader. You will find yourself revisiting the illustrations, wondering just how the artist managed to show the shadow puppets, the darkened streets and the play of flashlights, the excitement of children in night sky – all with spectacular detail and imagery! A beautiful book indeed.

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