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Perfect Picture Book Friday – Saturday is Dadurday

Perfect Picture Book Fridays are the creation of the lovely children’s book author Susanna Leonard Hill. Check in each week on Fridays for new book reviews. Susanna also has a complete list (alphabetically and by theme) of all the book reviews. It’s a wonderful resource if you’re looking for activities for a book, or books focused on a particular theme.

booklovebadgeCALLING ALL CUPIDS!

I’m challenging my fellow book-lovers this month to show the books and authors they love a little extra affection by posting reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, and other social media. Read more about the Book Love blog hop, and if you review books for PPBF, consider yourself tagged!

 

Title: Saturday Is Dadurdaysaturday_is_dadurday

Author: Robin Pulver

Illustrator: R. W. Alley

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Year: 2013

Genre: Fiction picture book

Ages: 4-8

Themes: Family life; fathers; dealing with disappointment

Opening:

After the twins were born, Mimi and Dad had an idea for their same favorite day. It came after Friday, and Mimi and Dad called it Dadurday.

Synopsis: (from publisher’s website) For Mimi, the best day of the week is always Saturday, because she gets to spend it with just her Dad. Every “Dadurday” begins the same way–Mimi and Dad make silly-shaped pancakes, read the comics section of the newspaper and make lists of fun things to do together. But when Dad gets a new work schedule, “Dadurday” is ruined. Can Mimi find a way to still make it a special day for her and dad?

What makes it great: Mothers loom large in the picture book landscape so it’s refreshing to read a book where the dad/daughter relationship is the focus.

What readers notice: My daughter liked the plays on words in the book, from “Dadurday” in the title, to “Badurday,” “Madurday,” and “Sadurday,” reflecting Mimi’s disappointment when she learns that Dad will have to work on Saturdays.

What a writer notices: I liked that Dad and Mom played essential roles in this story, while still letting Mimi come to a very realistic, child-centered solution on her own.

Activities/Resources:

Some resources for teaching days of the week:

http://www.schoolsparks.com/blog/teaching-your-child-the-days-of-the-week

 

Calling All Cupids! BOOK LOVE – A Blog Hop

A recent email by a writer friend reminded me that, even though I read and enjoy many, many books, I don’t always show those books (and their authors) the attention they deserve. If I’ve enjoyed a book a lot, I might tell a friend or two. I might even review a book here on my blog. But I don’t review books in other key places – like on Amazon and Goodreads.

That’s too bad because positive reviews on social media, especially on Amazon, can influence other readers and book buyers. The number of reviews a book gets can directly impact the book’s ranking in search engine results, which in turn can influence sales.

booklovebadge

Badge designed by Dana Carey

It’s a tough world out there for books and their authors. They need our support now more than ever. So this month, I thought I’d play Cupid for a while and spread some BOOK LOVE around by setting aside a few minutes to give more public support to some of the books I’ve enjoyed recently – and tagging some reader friends to do the same!

Do you want to play Cupid with me? Here’s how the hop works:

BOOK LOVE Blog Hop Instructions

1. Pick some books you love (any genre) that you think deserve more attention than they are getting. (As much as I love The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Eric Carle does not need my help to sell more copies! I’ve tried to choose books I thought needed a little boost, or ones I love that no one else seems to have heard of.)

2. Post reviews for the books you chose on Amazon/social media. The reviews can be brief – even a short review on Amazon helps. Posting on Goodreads or Shelfari is great, too, or Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. The more places you can publicly proclaim your love, the better!

3. If you want, you can also post the reviews on your own blog, or link your blog back to your reviews on social media.

4. Feel free to display the BOOK LOVE badge on your blog – and if you want, link it back to this post so your visitors know what it’s all about.

5. Tag some friends to do the same! Tag friends through their blogs, or on Facebook.

That’s it! If you don’t want to wait to be tagged, you can jump right in and start reviewing and tagging yourself.

Can I point out the adorable badge that Dana Carey designed for this? The heart-shaped glasses – I kind of want a pair for myself! Dana is a talented writer and illustrator who is Assistant Regional Advisor for SCBWI France, and also one of the co-leaders of Sub It Club.

And now for my reviews:

I reviewed four picture books that I’ve read recently and loved. When I looked these up on Amazon, none had more than 24 reviews, and one had only two! These books needed a little love, in my opinion.

Me First by Max Kornell. I reviewed this on my blog a few weeks ago, and simply pasted that review word-for-word on Amazon and Goodreads.

Puddle Pug by Kim Norman. A wonderful, lyrical book.

Saturday Is Dadurday by Robin Pulver. Such a sweet father-daughter story.

Clever Jack Takes the Cake by Candace Fleming. One of my all-time faves!

I am tagging some fellow Cupids to continue the hop:

Vivian Kirkfield

Cathy Ballou Mealey

Penny Parker Klostermann

Hannah Holt

Diane Tulloch

Tina M. Cho

Dana Carey

Take it away, ladies!

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Strongheart

Perfect Picture Book Fridays are the creation of the lovely children’s book author Susanna Leonard Hill. Check in each week on Fridays for new book reviews. Susanna also has a complete list (alphabetically and by theme) of all the book reviews. It’s a wonderful resource if you’re looking for activities for a book, or books focused on a particular theme.

strongheartTitle: Strongheart: The World’s First Movie Star Dog

Author/Illustrator: Emily Arnold McCully

Publisher: Henry Holt

Year: 2014

Genre: Fiction picture book (fictionalized history)

Ages: 4-8

Themes: Dogs; loyalty; film history

Opening: This is the story of Etzel von Oeringen, who became the first movie star dog. His life began a long way from Hollywood. Etzel was born in Germany during World War I. He was the son and grandson of champion police dogs.

Synopsis: (from publisher’s website) Strongheart may have been a movie star, but he wasn’t always famous. He started out as a police dog who could sniff out criminals and march like a soldier, but he didn’t know how to have fun. Larry Trimble was a Hollywood director who wanted to put Strongheart in his movies—not just as a pet but as the lead actor. Larry taught him to play with toys and walk like a regular dog. In his films, Strongheart brought audiences to tears. He was a sensation! But when Strongheart’s military training led to trouble, was his career over? Set in the early days of silent movies, Emily Arnold McCully’s extraordinary story about a real-life hero will capture the hearts of dog lovers and movie fans everywhere.

What makes it great: A high-interest topic (dogs and movies) combined with history, and McCully’s beautiful watercolor illustrations made this book stand out on the shelf.

What readers notice: My daughter is a dog-lover in a house full of cat people, so she was especially pleased with this book. She was interested enough in the story that she let me read her the Author’s Note in the back, which tells more details about the real story of Strongheart.

What a writer notices: The fact that this book is listed as ‘nonfiction’ on the publisher’s website, yet is listed as ‘fiction’ on the copyright page, and shelved as ‘fiction’ in my library, speaks volumes about the blurred lines between fiction and nonfiction today. True stories are almost never as streamlined as fictional picture book stories, so I’m always curious to see what an author leaves out, or where she chooses to change details. For example, the climax of this story describes an episode where Strongheart attacks a visitor to his owners’ home, possibly ending his movie career. The book depicts his owners in the scene, but the author’s note at the back reveals that in fact, the owners were away traveling at the time and Strongheart was being cared for by a friend. How much can an author leave out or change before a story morphs from nonfiction into fiction? Does it matter to the story that this detail was changed? To some, it might, but to me it didn’t matter. The essential truth of the story was kept intact, and McCully used the author’s note effectively to explain the true circumstances.

Activities/Resources:

Kids might be interested in finding out about more movie dogs in history.

http://rulingcatsanddogs.com/dogs-famous-celebrity-movie-star-canines-celebrities.htm

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Black Is Brown Is Tan

Perfect Picture Book Fridays are the creation of the lovely children’s book author Susanna Leonard Hill. Check in each week on Fridays for new book reviews. Susanna also has a complete list (alphabetically and by theme) of all the book reviews. It’s a wonderful resource if you’re looking for activities for a book, or books focused on a particular theme.

black_is_brown_is_tanTitle: Black Is Brown Is Tan

Author: Arnold Adoff

Illustrator: Emily Arnold McCully

Publisher: HarperCollins

Year: 2002

Genre: Fiction picture book

Ages: 4-8

Themes: Race; family life

Opening:

black is brown is tan

is girl is boy

is nose is

face

is all

the

colors

of     the     race

Synopsis: (from publisher’s website)

Brown-skinned mama, the color of chocolate milk and pumpkin pie. White-skinned daddy, not the color of milk or snow, but light with pinks and tiny tans. And their two children, the beautiful colors of both. For an all-American family, full of joy, warmth, and love,

this is the way it is for us 
this is the way we are

When it was first published in 1973, Black is Brown is Tan featured the first interracial family in children’s books. Decades later, Arnold Adoff and Emily Arnold McCully continue to offer a joyous and loving celebration of all the colors of the race, now newly embellished with bright watercolor paintings that depict a contemporary family of the twenty-first century. And the chorus rings true as ever:

black is brown is tan 
is girl is boy 
is nose is face 
is all the colors of the race

What makes it great: There aren’t many picture books that feature interracial families. This one not only features a black/white interracial family, but is about race and skin color. The text mirrors what kids of all colors notice about the people around them.

What readers notice: We have an interracial extended family, and my kids have biracial friends and classmates. They have often brought up the subject of differences in skin color and it’s nice to see a book that mirrors their own observations of the world.

What a writer notices: I love the rhythmic language of this book and the child-centered descriptions of skin color.

This page describes the mother:

i am black i am a brown sugar gown

a tasty tan and coffee pumpkin pie

with dark brown eyes and almond ears

and my face gets ginger red

when i puff and yell you into bed

 

And this page describes the father:

i am white i am white

i am light

with pinks and tiny tans

dark hair growing on my arms

that darken in the summer sun

brown eyes

big yellow ears

and my face gets tomato red

when i puff and yell you into bed

 

And I love the beautiful, songlike refrain:

this is the way it is for us 
this is the way we are

Activities/Resources:

HarperCollins has produced a teaching guide to go along with the book.

 

 

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Me First

Perfect Picture Book Fridays are the creation of the lovely children’s book author Susanna Leonard Hill. Check in each week on Fridays for new book reviews. Susanna also has a complete list (alphabetically and by theme) of all the book reviews. It’s a wonderful resource if you’re looking for activities for a book, or books focused on a particular theme.

me_firstTitle: Me First

Author/Illustrator: Max Kornell

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen/Penguin

Year: 2014

Genre: Fiction picture book

Ages: 6-8

Themes: Siblings; competition

Opening:

Hal was Martha’s older brother.

“Did you know,” he told Martha, “that I used to play checkers with Dad before you were even born?”

Martha didn’t mind that Hal was older or that he talked about it all the time. It made beating him more fun.

Synopsis: (from publisher’s website) If there’s one thing siblings Hal and Martha can agree on, it’s this: It is important to be first! But what happens when being first is suddenly not so much fun? Competing to explore a new route home one day, Hal and Martha discover that sometimes having a brother or sister right beside you is even better than being one step ahead of them.

What makes it great: The author does a great job portraying the two siblings. We don’t feel that either one is in the “right,” and neither dominates the storyline. That makes the book appealing to both younger and older sibling readers.

What readers notice: As much as my kids enjoy fantastical picture book and magical realism, there’s a lot to be said for true-to-life characters in familiar true-to-life situations. No one is flying to the moon or consorting with magical animals in this book. OK, the characters are donkeys, but they sound and act like real kids, and that holds strong appeal for both my 5 and 9-year-olds.

What a writer notices: I love the reversals that happen in this book. Hal and Martha go from each trying to be first, to allowing the other to go first. Meanwhile their parents get into a little argument about who first noticed how nicely Hal and Martha are now treating each other. The full circle ending, with Hal and Martha starting a new game of checkers, and wondering who should go first, is perfect.

Activities/Resources:

Many kids have a ‘me first’ approach to life. Here are some helpful resources to help teach and practice turn-taking.

http://growingcreativekids.com/games-and-activities-to-teach-taking-turns/

http://connectability.ca/2010/09/23/everyday-opportunities-to-practice-turn-taking/

 

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Watch Your Tongue, Cecily Beasley

Perfect Picture Book Fridays are the creation of the lovely children’s book author Susanna Leonard Hill. Check in each week on Fridays for new book reviews. Susanna also has a complete list (alphabetically and by theme) of all the book reviews. It’s a wonderful resource if you’re looking for activities for a book, or books focused on a particular theme.

watch_your_tongue_cecily_beasleyTitle: Watch Your Tongue, Cecily Beasley

Author: Lane Fredrickson

Illustrator: Jon Davis

Publisher: Sterling

Year: 2012

Genre: Fiction picture book

Ages: 4-7

Themes: Manners; Kindness/empathy

Opening: Cecily Beasley was never polite/she never said ‘thank you’ or ‘please’ or ‘goodnight.’

Synopsis: (from publisher’s website)

Cecily Beasley is never polite–she won’t say thank you, please, or goodnight. She slurps her food, refuses to share, and sticks her tongue out everywhere. But this rude little girl gets her comeuppance in this rambunctious, rhyming picture book that makes its point with irresistible humor.

Every child has heard the words, “Don’t make that face. It might freeze that way!” Well, that’s exactly what happens to Cecily–and to make things worse, a bird builds a nest on her outstretched tongue! But only when the chicks hatch will Cecily finally learn a lesson she’ll never forget.

What makes it great: Fantastic rhyme and a very engaging story with unexpected twists.

What readers notice: My 5-year-old loves this story and wants to read it over and over again. She tends to latch onto fun-to-say words and phrases from the books she likes, and for weeks she walked around the house shouting, “Watch your tongue!” That kept us all on our toes.

What a writer notices: The wonderful rhyme is what attracts me to this story, but I also love the funny, over-the-top twist. We’ve all hear the warning that ‘your face might stick that way’ when children make faces or stick out their tongue. In this story the author took that situation to the extreme when she allows a Mockingbeak Tonguesnatcher bird to build a nest on her main character’s tongue. It’s a good reminder that in picture books, taking things to extremes can make for a very engaging story.

Activities/Links to Resources: 

For writers, Lane has built a fantastic website about writing in rhyme, one of the best resources out there.

http://www.rhymeweaver.com

Site with lessons about teaching empathy at all grade levels:

http://www.tolerance.org/lesson/developing-empathy

My son’s school uses a curriculum called Open Circle to explicitly teach empathy and getting along with others. I have found the recommended literature tie-ins to be wonderful, and you can access the book lists for free (organized by grade level).

http://open-circle.org/resources/literature.html

This site is geared toward parents, lots of tips on fostering empathy in children:

http://www.babycenter.com/0_the-caring-child-how-to-teach-empathy_67146.bc

 

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Bear Snores On

Perfect Picture Book Fridays are the creation of the lovely children’s book author Susanna Leonard Hill. Check in each week on Fridays for new book reviews. Susanna also has a complete list (alphabetically and by theme) of all the book reviews. It’s a wonderful resource if you’re looking for activities for a book, or books focused on a particular theme.

bear_snores_onTitle: Bear Snores On

Author: Karma Wilson

Illustrator: Jane Chapman

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry/Simon & Schuster

Year: 2002

Genre: Fiction picture book

Ages: 3-7

Themes: Frienship; animals

Opening:

In a cave in the woods,

in his deep, dark, lair,

through the long cold winter

sleeps a great brown bear.

Synopsis: (from publisher’s website) One by one, a whole host of different animals and birds find their way out of the cold and into Bear’s cave to warm up. But even after the tea has been brewed and the corn has been popped, Bear just snores on! See what happens when he finally wakes up and finds his cave full of uninvited guests — all of them having a party without him!

What makes it great: The storyline and cast of characters are adorable and appealing to young children. Who wouldn’t want to see what is finally going to wake this bear up?

What readers notice: When we first read this story when my daughter was about 3, she loved the repetition of the phrase, “But the bear snores on!” This is the first in Karma Wilson’s bear series and every book includes a wonderful repetitive phrase that children can latch onto.

What a writer notices: 

There’s so much to like about this story, but what I’ll talk about here is the language. The language is simple and easy for a young child to understand, while at the same time using inventive phrases that add so much fun to the storytelling, for example in this stanza:

An itty-bitty mouse,

pitter-pat, tip-toe,

creep-crawls in the cave

from the fluff-cold snow.

The rhythm and rhyme are impeccable, and I love how the stanzas are punctuated with a phrase that breaks the rhythm, and then repetitive phrase that is fun to say:

The coals pip-pop and the wind doesn’t stop. But the bear snores on.

In the book, the phrase ‘but the bear snores on’ is printed in a larger typeface and offset so that it is given even more emphasis.

The drama is heightened even further at the climax of the story when the forest creatures make a stew and sprinkle it with pepper.

He blows and he sneezes, and the whole crowd freezes…and the bear wakes up!

 

Activities/Links to Resources: 

Preschool lesson plans about bears:

http://www.brighthubeducation.com/preschool-lesson-plans/39220-a-fun-bear-theme-lesson-plan-crafts-and-activities/

A music lesson to be used with Bear Snores On:

http://www.schoolmusicmatters.com/resources/ideadisplay.php?ibid=877

Many lessons and ideas about hibernation:

http://www.preschool-plan-it.com/hibernation.html

Lesson plan about rhyming:

http://ebookbrowsee.net/rhyming-lesson-plan-bear-snores-on-doc-d13882261