Friday, July 7, 2017

Time for Summer Reading




Sally’s Bookshelf is taking a break from book reviews to indulge in summer reading. While Sally's gone ...

  • Check out your library's summer reading program. 
  • Grab some books for the next road trip.  
  • Build a fort (and read in it).
  • Read a good bug book - and then go find some bugs.
  • Write haiku in sidewalk chalk.
  • Learn to identify trees - then tie a hammock between a couple of them and read.


See you in August.

Friday, June 23, 2017

These Books Have Gone to the Dogs!

I love stories about dogs. Even better are books that are written by the dogs themselves - or at least from their point of view. Here are three, recently published by Peachtree Publishers.

Leo, Dog of the Sea
by Alison Hart; illus. by Michael G. Montgomery
165 pages; ages 7-10

Here is the fourth installment in Alison Hart's "Dog Chronicles" series - and another great tale told by a tail-wagging protagonist. Previous adventures feature Murphy, Darling, and Finder.

The year is 1519 and Leo has hopped aboard one of Ferdinand Magellan's ships. Leo's had lots of experience hunting and catching rats on ships, so he thinks this will be one more voyage. What he doesn't know is this ship is headed on a westward journey that circumnavigate the globe.

The journey begins as any good seafaring adventure should: with 60 days of stormy weather, followed by becalmed seas in the equatorial seas. Humans turn against each other, reinforcing Leo's belief that people should not be trusted. And yet... he makes friends.

We see, through a dog's eyes, a journey to Brazil, sailing down the coast to a land of penguins and frozen seas; starving sailors who skin and roast the rats Leo provides; a mutiny - or two; hubris when Magellan involves himself in island politics and meets his untimely demise.

What I like about this book: aside from the excitement of adventure and exploration, is the Back Matter. Yes, Hart includes an author's note about the real history behind the story. "There are no records of a dog on board any of Magellan's ships," she writes. "However, dogs have long been used in Spain to control mice and rats." So there probably were dogs aboard the vessels in Magellan's fleet. She includes a glossary and a diagram of a sixteenth-century ship, further reading, and more.

Dori Hillestad Butler has a delightful new series of chapter books titled "King & Kayla", illustrated by Nancy Meyers. The first two in the series are:
King & Kayla and the Case of the Missing Dog Treats
and
King & Kayla and the Case of the Secret Code
Each is 48 pages, for ages 7-9

How can you not want to read a book that starts out, "Hello! My name is King. I'm a dog. This is Kayla. She is my human."

Kayla is making peanut butter dog treats - King's favorite. But she won't let him have one until they have cooled. She won't even let him lick the bowl!

And then... some treats go missing. King smells an intruder! He tries to tell Kayla, but she doesn't understand him... and accuses him of snitching the cookies! You will want to read it to learn how King proves he's innocent and brings the culprit to justice.

In the Case of the Secret Code, King and Kayla team up to solve the mystery of who is leaving letters around, and what the code means. Moral of the story: if you're delivering secret messages, the dog will sniff you out!

On Monday we'll be hanging out on Marvelous Middle Grade Monday with other  bloggers over at Shannon Messenger's blog. Hop over to see what other people are reading. Review copies provided by publisher.


Friday, June 16, 2017

End of School and Underwater Games



It’s getting close to the end of the school year here. The time when you clean out your cubbie, wash crayon marks off your desk, and say goodbye to your friends and teachers. Maybe promise to meet at the park for some games of follow the leader.

Mrs McBee Leaves Room 3
By Gretchen Brandenburg McLellan; illus. by Grace Zong
32 pages; ages 3-7
Peachtree, 2017

It’s the end of the school year and all the kids are getting ready to leave. So is their teacher, Mrs. McBee. She won’t be back in the fall. Before she leaves for the summer, she gets all the kids involved in cleaning up and releasing the butterflies. The kids don hardhats and get to work – all except William, who sits in the thinking corner.

When the boxes are loaded and gone, no one can find William. Where is he?

This is a delightful story about growing up, changes, and finding ways to remember the good things in your life. And to share those memories with others.
 
Swallow the Leader
By Danna Smith; illus. by Kevin Sherry
32 pages; ages 4-7
Clarion Books, 2016

What happens if you let shark play follow-the-leader? This delightful, wickedly funny counting book starts with one fish, then another. It draws in denizens of the sea in rhyme:
Follow the leader
Play like I play
Pretend you are me.
Flap like a ray.

From one to 10 they collect followers… but then it becomes a game of swallow the leader as bigger fish gulps down the smaller until the biggest one of all – GULP!

But all is not lost – BURP!

Review copies provided by publishers.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Books that Celebrate Friendships

Have you ever had a friend who was very different than you? These two books take us inside such friendships.

theme: friendship, diversity, imagination

Muddle & Mo
by Nikki Slade Robinson
32 pages; ages 4-7
Clarion Books, 2017

"Mo?"
"Yes, Muddle?"
"You're a funny color for a duck!"

Mo and Muddle are best friends - but Muddle is a bit confused about their animal identity. That's because Mo has a "hairy beak" and he quacks funny.

But when they visit a goat farm, Muddle has an epiphany! Mo isn't a duck! Perhaps he, Muddle, is a goat?

What I like about this book: I like the gentle way that Mo helps Muddle sort out his duck identity. This is such a warm - and funny - story of differences, acceptance, and the sort of friendship that transcends all sorts of silliness. The illustrations are sweet, too.

You Are NOT a Cat!
by Sharon G. Flake; illus. by Anna Raff
40 pages; ages 3-7
Boyds Mills, 2016

I am a cat. Meow.

 Duck thinks he's a cat. He wants to be a cat - no matter how many times Cat tells him he's a duck. So duck puts on cat ears and goes meowing about.

What I like about this book: When cat refuses to admit he's a cat, Duck decides he's a parrot. He could be a squirrel. Duck is casting about for his identity. To be honest, he's also irritating Cat with his constant pretending. I also like that the story is written completely in dialog.

Beyond the Book:

Have you ever wanted to be someone - or something - else? Draw a picture or write a story about what happened/

What would you do if you woke up with wings? Or discovered you were a cat/dog/duck/goat... ?

Do you have friends who are very different from you? How do you celebrate your differences? How do you celebrate your friendship?

Today is PPBF (perfect picture book Friday), an event in which bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's site. She keeps an ever-growing list of Perfect Picture Books. Review copy provided by publishers.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Rainbow Weaver

Rainbow Weaver
by Linda Elovitz Marshall; illus. by Elisa Chavarri
40 pages; ages 6-9
Children's Book Press, 2016

themes: diversity, art, family

High in the mountains above Lake Atitlan, Ixchel watched her mother weave thread into fabric as beautiful as a rainbow.

When Ixchel asks if she can weave, Mama suggests she help count threads. But Ixchel wants to weave. She wants to help pay for her books and school.

What I like love about this book: Ixchel sets off to find her own weaving materials. She kicks aside the plastic bags that people have discarded on their way home from market, and gathers tall grasses to use on a loom she makes from sticks. When they don't work, she gathers bits of wool and twists it into yarn. Dissatisfied with that, she tries weaving with plastic bags - after all, they are everywhere!


I love that author Linda Marshall traveled to Guatamala to meet weavers and learn how they recycle unwanted plastic into products that they sell in the market place. She wrote about that trip earlier this year here. In an author's note, Linda tells how she was inspired to write this book by a friend who sells the weavers' placemats, coasters, purses, and baskets. And I love that the endpapers resemble Mayan textiles. Oh, and did I say that the book is bilingual? Lo puedes leer en espaƱol.

Beyond the book:

Read how some people are turning plastic bags into mats for homeless people. They cut the bags into strips and crochet the strips into thick mats - it takes more than 500 bags for each mat!

Want to weave a plastic rug or mat of your own? All you need is a loom - here's how to make one out of cardboard. There are links to weaving techniques - all you need to supply are the warp strings and plastic bags.

Or try making a coiled basket or coaster. Here's how.

You can find out more about Linda and her books at her website.

Today is PPBF (perfect picture book Friday), an event in which bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's site. She keeps an ever-growing list of Perfect Picture Books. Review copy provided by publishers.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Robots - Robots - Robots!

I love robot books - and here are three that have different takes on the imagineering world of robots.
theme: robots, imagination

And the Robot Went...
by Michelle Robinson; illus. by Sergio Ruzzier
32 pages; ages 4-7
Clarion Books, 2017

 The Nosy Fox looked in the box, and the Robot went ... Boooo.

But when Eager Beaver drops by and pulls the lever, the Robot goes Bang! And when Wicked Witch drops by, the Robot adds another sound.

What I like about this book: the cumulative noise! Each time someone comes by to fiddle with the robot a new noise is added until, at the end, the Robot goes ... (I won't ruin the fun for you!)

The Bot that Scott Built
by Kim Norman; illus. by Agnese Baruzzi
32 pages; ages 3-7
Sterling Books, 2016

This is the boy
the bippity bot,
the rabbit-eared robot,
that Scott built.

It's Science Day, and Scott takes his robot to school.Told in cumulative house-that-jack-built style, this story builds as disaster after disaster happen - starting with the ants that get loose.

What I like about this book: Science Day is fun-filled, action-packed with never a dull moment. Those ants that get loose - don't worry, because someone has brought carnivorous plants. But when the frog gets hopping and the snake slithers loose, Scott knows he needs a hero - so he turns on the robot. I also like the end-papers because they inspire the imagination: what kind of robot could you build using these tools and materials?

The Rise of the Rusty Robo-Cat! (Doodle adventure)
by Mike Lowery
112 pages; ages 8 & up
Workman Publishing, 2017

Calling all junior agents, curious readers, artists, cat-lovers, and robot fans! This doodle-adventure is a joint mission between you (the reader) and the author. Bring a pencil become you'll need to add some doodley illustrations to this not-quite-finished graphic novel. Or is it a sketchbook?

But be advised: once you take ownership of this book you have signed onto a mission: to help Carl (a duck) discover why all the cats in town have gone berserk. They're acting like jerks! And what is it with that robot? Something smells fishy...

What I like about this book: it's a mission! And you have a say in how it looks by drawing your own illustrations. Grab some colored pencils to spice up the cartoons that are already there... and solve the mystery.

Beyond the Books:


Make a list of Robot Sounds. Cling, ding, klunk - how many can you think of? If you need some audio inspiration, click here. For a list of metalic-sounding words, check out this site.

Make a Robot out of cereal boxes and other things from the kitchen recycling bin. For ideas, check out this site.

Draw a cartoon about a robot and an animal - perhaps your pet cat, dog, goldfish, gecko, snake, or hissing cockroach. Do they help old ladies walk across the street? Save the world from disaster? Wreak havok? Here are some ideas for drawing cartoon robots.

Make a Robot Suit: All you need is a large paper grocery bag, a box for a helmet, some buttons, bottle caps, and stuff to glue on, scissors, crayons and markers, duct tape (of course) and maybe some foil. Get ideas for a paper bag vest here, and robot helmet here.

 Today is PPBF (perfect picture book Friday), an event in which bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's site. She keeps an ever-growing list of Perfect Picture Books. Review copies provided by publishers.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Ways to Spend your Day

Laundry Day
by Jessixa Bagley
32 pages; ages 3-6
Roaring Brook Press, 2017

theme:family, imagination

"I'm bored," said Tic.
"Me too," said Tac.

Ma Badger suggests they read a book. Build a fort. Go fishing. Then, fatefully... "would you like to help me hang the laundry?" If only she had known what happens when two bored badgers get hold of the clothespins.

What I like about this book: It's fun to read. And the kids do a good job of hanging the laundry. Then they wonder what else needs hanging. What about winter clothes? Blankets? A map? Things get out of hand in a hurry, and when Ma Badger sees what's been going on, she decides to take back control.  Review copy provided by publisher.

Mapping my Day
by Julie Dillemuth; illus. by Laura Wood
40 pages; ages 4-8
Magination Press, 2017

theme: family, problem-solving

My day begins with the sun ... in my face.

Flora loves to draw maps. They help her keep track of her day, not to mention document facts about her live. Such as her room is four steps closer to the bathroom than her brother's. She draws treasure maps, travel routes, house layout, even a map for her dog's obstacle course.

What I like about this book: I like maps - and it's fun to see a kid using maps as a tool for understanding her world.  I like that there's back matter: a note to adults on how maps can help kids figure out their world, and some mapping activities. Review copy from Blue Slip Media.

Beyond the books:

Laundry lines are for more than hanging clothes. Photographers used to hang their photos to dry. Some people hang treats for birds from a line, and others use the laundry lines to support blankets for a fort. What sort of things do you use laundry lines for?

Map your world. Draw a map of your house, or your school, or a neighborhood park, or the route you take when you walk to the post office. What are the important landmarks that you need in your map?

Compare maps. Find some road maps, topographic maps, old maps out of National Geographic magazines, and other kinds of maps. Open up a couple and spread them on the floor, and then compare them. How do they show the landscape?

Today is PPBF (perfect picture book Friday), an event in which bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's site. She keeps an ever-growing list of Perfect Picture Books.



Friday, May 12, 2017

Putting the focus on photographers

Two books about photographers, contemporaries of each other. One captured light and rocks and trees, the other focused her sights on factories, buildings, and people. One grew up in the west, the other in the east.

Antsy Ansel: Ansel Adams, a life in nature
by Cindy Jenson-Elliott; illus. by Christy Hale
32 pages; ages 5-9
Henry Holt, 2016

theme: nonfiction, biography, art

Ansel was antsy. He never walked - he ran.

He loved being outside - exploring the beach, feeling the wind and salt spray. He didn't fare well trapped in the classroom, but thrived when his father decided to have him learn at home.
When Ansel was 14, he visited Yosemite Valley and fell in love with the light. His parents gave him a camera, and the rest is history. He traveled far and wide taking photos of national parks, and his photos were featured in Life magazine and galleries.

What I like about this book: It is fun to read. Author Cindy Jenson-Elliot delves into her collection of action words to show this young man who couldn't sit still. Run-leap-scramble... off he goes with his camera! I also like the back matter, where she tells more about this iconic photographer. Ansel Adams spent a lot of time studying his subject matter, waiting for the right light to capture it.

Girl with a Camera
by Carolyn Meyer
352 pages; ages 10 - 14
Calkins Creek, 2017

Margaret Bourke-White was born in 1904 - two years after Ansel Adams - in New Jersey. She wasn't popular, and felt unsure of herself, yet knew she would do something great. She spent her youth exploring the outdoors, collecting snakes and bugs, and thought she might become a herpetologist (someone who studies reptiles and amphibians). Then she discovered photography. And the beauty within buildings, from factories to sky scrapers. She knew she wanted to make her living shooting photos.

This fictionalized account of her life draws on Margaret's own writings, as well as archival material and yearbooks. It reads like an adventure, as we read about Margaret's adventures as a photo-journalist for Life magazine: trips to Russia, capturing factories and farms, and a nearly-didn't-make-it trip to the arctic. Author Carolyn Meyer had done a ton of research, and it shows.

Both Ansel Adams and Margaret Bourke-White documented World War II. Ansel took photos of ordinary life in the Manzanar War Relocation Center (Japanese internment camp) in California. Margaret was the first female war correspondent and photographed German forces invading Moscow. At the end of the war she photographed the liberation of the concentration camp at Buchenwald.

Beyond the Books:
Take a camera on a walk with you and take pictures of buildings or trees or rocks or people... whatever interests you. Try taking photos in different light - different times of day - and from different angles.

Explore this gallery of Ansel Adams photos.

Explore this gallery of Margaret Bourke-White photos.

Today is PPBF (perfect picture book Friday), an event in which bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's site. She keeps an ever-growing list of Perfect Picture Books. On Monday we'll be hanging out on Marvelous Middle Grade Monday with other  bloggers over at Shannon Messenger's blog. Hop over to see what other people are reading. Review copies provided by publishers.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Carrots, Peas, and Rabbit Stew

As gardening season moves into full swing, just about any book with a vegetable in the title - or a garden critter - catches my attention. Here are two recent titles that focus on themes of friendship, diversity, and kindness. Oh, and vegetables...


Carrot & Pea
by Morag Hood
32 pages; ages 4 - 7
HMH, 2016

This is Lee. He is a pea. 
All of his friends are peas.
Except Colin. 

Lee and his buddies are as alike as... peas in a pod. Colin, though, he's tall. And orange. And definitely not round.

He can't do the same things peas can do, like roll. So how can he join them in their games?

What I like about this book: Colin has his own, excellent traits that make him fun to play with - if you're a pea. I like that the end papers don't match, and bright, spare illustrations. Spend some time with this book and you'll start thinking about ways to involve carrots - or those "different kids" - in your play.

Rabbit Stew
by Wendy Wahman
32 pages; ages 3-7
Boyds Mills Press, 2017

Rusty and Rojo toiled and tilled in their vegetable garden all summer long.

And at long last, the time is ripe for them to make their prizewinning Rabbit Stew!

What I like about this book: I love the illustration of them harvesting green beans, purple kale, and crunchy orange carrots for their "splendid" Rabbit Stew. They harvest a few things that one would not expect in a stew... however, it will be marvelous, they assure readers. Meanwhile, a white rabbit is hiding in the garden. I don't want to spoil the ending, but will say that no rabbits are harmed in the making of this story.

Beyond the Book: What makes you different from all of your friends? Think of the skills you contribute when playing games or creating imaginative scenarios. Maybe you love animals, so when you play "store" you are the pet shop owner...

Have you ever eaten a rainbow? Try finding fruits and vegetables of all different colors for a salad. Maybe red lettuce, yellow tomatoes, orange peppers, green beans, purple carrots?

Rusty and Rojo have a pet rabbit named "Stew". If you have pets, what names have you given them - yes, you can include the stuffed animals inhabiting your room. 

Today is PPBF (perfect picture book Friday), an event in which bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's site. She keeps an ever-growing list of Perfect Picture Books. Review copies provided by publishers.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Still a Work in Progress

Still a Work in Progress
by Jo Knowles
320 pages; ages 10-14
Candlewick Press, 2016

If the cover doesn't get you, the title of the first chapter will: "Please Stop Standing on the Toilet Seats".

Yup - that was the magnet that drew me to this fun-and-serious novel. That one and "Please Ban Country Music from All Future Dances" and "The Fart Squad Needs to be Disbanded". These are just a few of the requests found in the Suggestion Box at Noah's school.

It's a small school, the sort where you sit in a circle and discuss such topics during morning meeting (I feel like I worked at this school) while the cat climbs over and around you.

For Noah and his friends, life is simple. He loves art and he's got cool friends who think Noah's sister is perfect. But at home, Noah knows the truth. Emma is far from perfect. The problem is that his parents avoid talking about it and tiptoe around the issue, which makes everything even more complicated. When she finally does get help, Noah's life gets even messier.

If you're looking for a book with issues, family life, friends, and complications, put this high on your list.
We'll be hanging out on Marvelous Middle Grade Monday with other  bloggers over at Shannon Messenger's blog. Hop over to see what other people are reading. Review copy from Rosi Hollenbeck who reviews books at The Write Stuff

** Spring Break** Sally's Bookshelf is going to take a Spring Break to catch up on all that reading.... Back in a few weeks.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Some Writer! The story of E.B. White

Some Writer! The Story of E.B. White
by Melissa Sweet
176 pages; ages 7-10 (and older!)
HMH 2016

Elwyn Brooks White loved words. And it's a good thing he did, because lots of those words ended up in marvelous books, like Charlotte's Web and Stuart Little - words I read and reread as I imagined that I, too, might have a little mouse and a red car or a canoe...

So it is fun, fun, FUN to read this wonderful biography by Melissa Sweet. It is full of words, too - and bright collages that give the book the feel of a scrapbook. There are tales of vacations in Maine, writing stories for contests, working as a counselor at Camp Otter.

EB White traveled about, wrote for the New Yorker, and then started scribbling notes that would grow into Stuart Little. "One October evening Andy [E.B.'s nickname] watched a spider spin an egg sac and deposit her eggs," writes Melissa Sweet. He detached the egg sac, put it into a box, and took it back to New York where he left it on his dresser. A few weeks later he noticed hundreds of tiny spiders climbing out of the box and spinning webs about the room. Later, back at his farm in Maine, he got to wondering whether a spider could save a pig...

Sweet includes a rough draft of Charlotte's Web that opens, "Charlotte was a grey spider who lived in the doorway of a barn." He struggled with the opening, jotting down different ways into the story, and then set the story aside for a year.

And then, Sweet notes, "he cut to the action ..." to the lines we know so well:
"Where's Papa going with that ax?"

What I love about this book is how Sweet weaves the story of E.B. White with illustrations that capture specific moments in his life. She even makes grammar fun! E.B. White is famous for his writing advice to Omit Needless Words. He's also famous for explaining the difference between affect and effect (I know this because I have looked it up in The Elements of Style) and when to use an exclamation point.

Sweet also has fun introducing readers to the times in which E.B. wrote. Opposite the Table of Contents she explains how a manual typewriter works.
And of course there is back matter: an afterword by Martha White (E.B. was her grandfather) with family photos, a timeline of his works, a selected bibliography of works by E.B. White as well as works by others that curious kids might want to check out. And - yay! - there is an index for impatient folks who want to know right this minute where to find something about chickens or pigs or the nitty-gritty stuff of Stuart Little.  

You can find out more about Melissa Sweet at her website.
On Monday we're joining the roundup over at the Nonfiction Monday blog where you'll find even more book reviews. Review copy provided by the publisher.



Friday, March 17, 2017

The Wolf's Boy

So you thought spring was coming...
It is - just not as fast as you were hoping. In the meantime, heat up a cup of cocoa and grab some "thought it would be spring but it's not" reading. Here's one I recommend:

The Wolf's Boy
by Susan Williams Beckhorn
240 pages; ages 9-12
Disney-Hyperion, 2016

I could not get free. The string of spit dripped closer. My brother was good at this game...

It doesn't matter whether you're living in the 21st century or back at the time when cave bears roamed, brothers haven't changed much. Especially when you're the weaker one.

Susan Beckhorn's tale transports us to that time just before wolf-relatives would become domesticated companions and partners with humans. This is a story of Kai who, by fate of birth, is an outcast. He longs to become a hunter - but born with a clubfoot he is forbidden to use hunter's weapons.

Kai has secrets; he was abandoned by his family and taken in by a mother wolf. Eventually Kai was reclaimed by his family, but he has never forgotten his wolf family. Nor have they forgotten him. When Kai discovers a motherless wolf cub, he brings her home to live with him. If you've ever had a puppy, you know that they like to chew things, like your best moccasins, the leather straps for your snares and traps. So Uff (the pup) and Kai are eventually exiled, and head north to a place where dangerous Ice Men live.

One of the things I love about this book is the language. Beckhorn introduces us to the culture of hunters by using their words: keerta (spear), nnnn-gata (hunter's prayer for luck). And especially oooni-alu-kas-pah-vard-ahh (fire-haired traveler with big hands, hear, and voice).

We'll be hanging out on Marvelous Middle Grade Monday with other  bloggers over at Shannon Messenger's blog. Hop over to see what other people are reading. Review copy from author.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Leaping Lemmings and Missing Bears

Leaping Lemmings!
by John Briggs; illus. by Nicola Slater
32 pages; ages 3-7
Sterling Children's Books, 2016

Would you jump off a cliff just because everyone else is doing it? Larry wouldn't. He is different than the other lemmings. Larry is adventurous: he goes sledding with puffins and when other lemmings eat moss (a pretty normal lemming thing to do) Larry orders pepperoni pizza.

And when that fateful day arrives and all his friends are running to the edge of the cliff, Larry comes up with a way to save them from their demise.

The Bear who Wasn't There
by LeUyen Pham
40 pages; ages 3-6
Roaring Brook, 2016

The author of this book would have you believe that Bear is the star of this book, and has gone missing. But clever Duck knows that Bears are unreliable. If you want some one reliable, you should get a Duck.

"How about I tell you a nice duck story?" he asks.

Meanwhile everyone else is looking for Bear. Is he behind the door that says "Private. Keep Out"? Oops! You should not have opened that door. But if Bear is not around, who is leaving all those muddy bear tracks? You know things are getting silly when the illustrator has to holler for all the animals to show up for roll call.

 Still, the question remains: if Bear isn't there, where is he?

Both books are perfect antidotes to gray early March days when we're caught between the seasons. If you're looking for some beyond-the-book activities, check out these lemming activities from a an earlier post. Want another animal story? Head over to Archimedes Notebook for a true story about a fox.

 Review copies and ARCs provided by publishers.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Books for Moon Watchers


A Moon of My Own
by Jennifer Rustgi; illus. by Ashley White
32 pages; ages 4-10
Dawn Publications, 2016

theme: nonfiction, space

Hey there, Moon. There you are again. I wonder, why do you follow me?

A girl, off on an adventure, is followed by the moon. But she's not on just any adventure: she's traveling around the world - because the moon that shines on you is the same moon that shines on someone far across the ocean.

What I like about this book: The illustrations layer complexity atop simple text. For example: "I can be your friend." The illustration is of the Eiffel Tower with a waning gibbous moon behind it. A few pages later, the moon is a mere crescent in the sky over the savanna.  So there is the moon to watch, as well as figuring out where the sky is. Then there are the illustrations, which are silhouettes against a deep blue/violet sky. I also like the back matter: a guide to the places in the book, moon facts, and more.

Mitchell on the Moon
by R. W. Alley
32 pages; ages 4-7
Clarion Books, 2016

One windy fall evening, Mitchell was leading the way. Until ... Gretchen said, "STOP! The moon is disappearing."

What a great, spooky start to a Halloween story (although you could read it any time, including the dead of winter when the wind chatters dried leaves against the trees). Mitchell, Sorcerer of Space, will save the moon! But first he has to climb a ladder to get to the moon. And save the moon. And get un-lost in the process. Thankfully, his trusty sidekick, Gretchen, is there to help.

What I like about this book: pure, imaginative fun! Climbing to the moon on a ladder? Something eating the moon?

Beyond the books:

Phases of the moon ~ Cut out different phases of the moon and challenge a friend to put them in order. Glue them onto a long strip that you can hang on your door. Watch the moon at night and draw what it looks like. Make a moon calendar.

Make craters ~ Pour a layer of flour or cornmeal or sand into a cake pan. Then drop a marble into it and check out the craters you make.

Go on a moon walk ~ and see what the world looks like. Buildings and trees look black, silhouetted against a lighter sky. Make some moon art based on what you see: paint a paper with the color of your night sky. Then cut out some silhouettes of things you saw on your walk, using simple shapes. Add a paper moon, and maybe some spots of white paint for stars.

Moon shadows ~ On a full moon night, when the moon is bright (like next week) go outside and look for shadows. Do you have a shadow? 

Today is PPBF (perfect picture book Friday), an event in which bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's site. She keeps an ever-growing list of Perfect Picture Books. Review copies provided by publishers.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Blood Brother: Jonathan Daniels and his sacrifice for Civil Rights

Blood Brother: Jonathan Daniels and his sacrifice for Civil Rights
by Rich Wallace and Sandra Neil Wallace
352 pages; ages 12 & up
Calkins Creek, 2016

So why is a biography of some white guy being featured during Black History month? Because Jonathan Daniels worked for voting rights, and it's still an issue.

Still. An. Issue.

Rich and Sandra Wallace have produced an information-packed (and very heavy) volume that explores the life and times of Jonathan Daniels, a white cleric from New Hampshire who answered the call from Martin Luther King, Jr. to join blacks in their struggle for voting rights. It was dangerous, in the 60s, to challenge the segregated ways of the south.

This book follows Daniels' life from childhood in Keene, NH through college in Virginia Military Institute, through his entrance into service in the ministry. In 1963 Daniels, studying at the Episcopal Theological School, had been serving residents in Providence, RI. He believed that the church should be active in promoting social change, and even joined the March on Washington. When Martin Luther King, Jr, asked for help, Daniels responded.

In addition to being an intriguing biography, the text and photos present documentary evidence of the struggle that black people faced. Even though they had the right to vote, segregation and southern laws prevented them from casting ballots. The Wallaces put history into context using multiple points of view.

The photos and primary documentation is invaluable. They also include a note on their research and forensic analysis of a photo. Also provided are a timeline, bibliography, resources for those who want to investigate further, and source notes for quotes. Check out their website for more resources. The only thing I wish had been done differently is to present text on white pages; black print on blue is difficult to read.

On Monday we'll join the roundup over at the Nonfiction Monday blog where you'll find even more book reviews. We'll also be hanging out on Marvelous Middle Grade Monday with other  bloggers over at Shannon Messenger's blog. Hop over to see what other people are reading. Review copy provided by the publisher.