Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Review: I'M JUST NO GOOD AT RHYMING


The title just about says it all for I'M JUST NO GOOD AT RHYMING and Other Nonsense for Mischievous Kids and Immature Grown-ups by Chris Harris, illustrated by Lane Smith.

Doesn't the title alone make you want to flip open this book to find out what mischievous stuff is going on in there? Do it! You won't be sorry. This delightful book of poetry has something to amuse every kid or kid at heart, whether they think they like poetry or not. The poem "Out on the Farm on a Saturday Night" alone is more than worth the effort. What does an upside-down cow sound like? How about a sideways cow? I bet you're wondering!

Full of fun word play, irresistible humor, and clever poem structures, not to mention delightful illustrations, I'M JUST NO GOOD AT RHYMING is a must-have poetry book for every home or classroom library. Whether during National Poetry Month or All Year Long, it would be nonsensical for you to miss out on this brilliant book of poems!

I borrowed it from the public library. And I don't want to bring it back. So I guess I better go buy my own copy. You come too! Or go check it out at the library. But don't forget to bring it back, no matter how tempting it is to keep it for yourself!




Saturday, April 06, 2019

Just for Fun: 10 Random Facts About Me

It's been a long time since I wrote a post like this, but Michelle I. Mason wrote a fun one and (sort of) challenged her readers to do the same, so here I am, following her example! I tried really hard to dig deep and list the most interesting things. Judge for yourself on whether I succeeded!

1. My hubby and I have been married for a quarter of a century.

2. My teenage son thinks I'm a little weird because I enjoy playing Minecraft. But he can't tease me too much because he plays along with me!

3. One time I dressed up as Bilbo Baggins for my church's Trunk-or-Treat event. I made the costume myself out of repurposed clothing I found at a thrift store.


4. One of my favorite hobbies is making handmade journals. Some are made with repurposed chipboard covers and pages made of card stock or drawing paper. Others are made out food boxes (such as cake mix or cereal) and other repurposed papers. It's a fun creative exercise, and I sometimes give the finished products away as gifts.

5. My daughter Samantha sometimes calls me Mo, after the father in the book Inkheart by Cornelia Funke, because of the book-repairing skills I acquired during my years working in a school library. Many damaged books have gotten a new lease on life thanks to that handy skill! I've repaired Bibles and other books for family members and friends, and have even rescued a few from the church pews when I've noticed them in need of a good gluing. I brought them back as good as new, of course.

6. Another title I've earned from my children is that of The Finder of Things because of my knack for finding missing things when everyone else's efforts have failed.

7. When I was a little girl I went through a long list of things I wanted to be when I grew up. A doctor, a policewoman, a zoologist. At the top of the list was always "wife and mother," though. Artist and poet were there too, but they always seemed to be a part of me that I had to develop rather than something I wanted to become some day.

8. I have a weakness for science fiction movies, especially those involving alien invasions or space exploration. In fact, one of my favorite movies ever is Independence Day. But the sequel? Let's all just pretend it doesn't exist. Are you with me?

9. Besides English, I have studied three languages at some point in my life. German, Japanese, and Spanish. I studied German while I lived in Germany as a kid, and for six years in school after that. I took one year of Japanese in high school. And I've been slowly learning Spanish over the past 25 years of being married to a native speaker. It's a shame that I'm not fluent yet, but I can get by when I must, and I've made it my goal to be proficient (and comfortable) in conversational Spanish by the end of this year.

10. I have never broken a bone, but I have: gotten whiplash in a freak swimming pool accident, torn the ligaments in my left foot while dancing, chipped my right elbow on a skating rink floor, and bruised my coccyx (tailbone) when the swing I was on broke.

Do you have any of these things in common with me? I'd love to hear about it!


Saturday, March 30, 2019

Picture Book Review: BADGER'S PERFECT GARDEN

BADGER'S PERFECT GARDEN by Marsha Diane Arnold, illustrated by Ramona Kaulitzki, is a perfect little book. Well, it's about as close to perfect as a picture book can get.

BADGER'S PERFECT GARDEN
by Marsha Diane Arnold
illustrated by Ramona Kaulitzki
Sleeping Bear Press

Badger has been waiting all year to plant the perfect garden with seeds he gathered in the summer and saved in jars over the winter. With the help of his friends, he clears an area, then makes neat little rows. And together, the friends carefully plant the seeds, being sure to keep similar seeds together. "Bumpy seeds in this row. Round ones here. Keep the whirlies together!" After a lot of work, the garden is planted, and Badger and his friends celebrate with muffins and mulberry juice. When fierce rains come and wash Badger's perfectly planted seeds away, he is so sad that nothing can cheer him up. He'll have to start all over and wait until NEXT year for his perfect garden.

Or will he?

BADGER'S PERFECT GARDEN, with its charming text and soft, glowing illustrations, is a delightful story about friendship, hard work, and dealing with disappointment. But more than that, it's a story about how sometimes, when things seem to be ruined, they are really only different. And different can be its own kind of perfect. 

It's a perfect story to share with anyone at any time, but especially with a little gardener at springtime. Perhaps it will inspire you and your little helpers to plant your own perfect garden!



Monday, March 18, 2019

13 Picture Books that Include Recipes - A Read, Discuss, Do! Book List

Picture books that include recipes are one of my favorite things. Not only are they fun to read together, but they have great Read, Discuss, Do! activities built right in. Honestly, I can't think of a better way to spend a day than with some reading and cooking together as a family. With that in mind, here are 13 (a baker's dozen!) picture books that come with recipes.



How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World by Marjorie Priceman, a delightful book that takes the reader on a journey around the world to find the ingredients for apple pie, with a recipe for apple pie at the end!




Bear and Chicken by Jannie Ho is a darling friendship story about a chicken who is concerned that the bear who rescued him from the cold is planning to make him into soup! Try the soup recipe for yourself. No chicken needed!




Whopper Cake by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Will Hillenbrand is a fun rhyming romp that will have everyone hungry for cake, which you can make by following the recipe for a slightly smaller whopper cake included in the book.





Monkey with a Tool Belt and the Maniac Muffins by Chris Monroe is every bit as silly and fun as it sounds. Make one of the muffin recipes at the end (guaranteed not to terrorize the town). 




Bee-bim Bop! by Linda Sue Park, illustrated by Ho Baek Lee is a darling book with fun language and plenty of repetition, making it great to read aloud with a little one. Follow story time up with some fun in the kitchen making your own bee-bim bop!





Every Color Soup by Jorey Hurley, a simple yet bold concept book about food and color, and includes a recipe your little ones can help you with.




A Fine Dessert by Emily Jenkins, illustrated by Sophie Blackall is a book about the history of Blackberry Fool, a dessert made with whipped cream and blackberries. The recipe is very simple, and takes much less work than it did one or two or three hundred years ago.





Applesauce Day by Lisa Amstutz, illustrated by Talitha Shipman, a colorful, pleasant read about a family's tradition of making applesauce together every year. Read the book and try making applesauce with your family (it's easier than you may think).




Ugly Pie by Lisa Wheeler, illustrated by Heather Solomon is a charming book about a bear's search for ingredients to make the pie he's been itchin' for: Ugly Pie! Try the pie recipe yourself and see if ugly can be delicious!




Chicks and Salsa by Aaron Reynolds, illustrated by Paulette Bogan, a spicy romp about chickens who are tired of chicken feed! Have a little fiesta with your little ones with one of the recipes at the back!





Cook-a-Doodle-Doo! by Janet Stevens and Susan Stevens Crummel, illustrated by Janet Stevens is a clever story featuring a descendant of the Little Red Hen, showing how cooking with a group of friends can be a rewarding challenge. And who can resist a recipe for strawberry shortcake?



Bread Lab! by Kim Binczewski and Bethany Econopouly, illustrated by Haylin Cho is a lesson in bread making disguised as a story of a young girl and her aunt spending the day cooking together. Try to avoid craving fresh baked bread as you read! Then again, crave all you want and then follow the directions to make bread yourself.





How to Feed Your Parents by Ryan Miller, illustrated by Hatem Aly, a fun family story about a little girl who is determined to get her picky parents to broaden their palates! Includes a recipe for quiche at the end. Yum!



I hope you look for some of these books and have a happy time reading and cooking with your family.

Have you read any of these books? If so, did you try the recipes? I'd love to know the results. Did I miss a favorite? If so, let me know in the comments and I'll be sure to look it up. 



Saturday, February 16, 2019

Crow's Nest: A Read, Discuss, Do! Activity

HAROLD LOVES HIS WOOLLY HAT by Vern Krousky is a cute and heartwarming story about a little bear who learns what it really means to be special. When Harold wears his woolly hat, he knows he's special. So when a crow swoops by and swipes it, he is determined to get it back! He tries offering the crow various things in exchange for his hat, but nothing works. But when he climbs up to the nest and sees what his hat is being used for, what he does next helps him realize that it was never his hat that made him special!



READ: HAROLD LOVES HIS WOOLLY HAT

DISCUSS: What does Harold discover in the nest? What does he do about it? What does Harold do that shows he is a special bear even without his woolly hat?

DO: Create a picture of a crow's nest like the one in the book, complete with an open nest that can be filled with odds and ends (and maybe a tiny hat?).

You will need:

  • Construction paper: one light color, one black 
  • A paper egg carton
  • Scissors
  • School glue
  • Glue stick
  • Short pieces of yarn
  • Small fabric scraps
  • Light colored crayons 

Directions:

Using the black construction paper, cut out a tall, narrow tree a couple of inches shorter than the length of the paper. Be sure to give the tree short, random branches. Use the crayons to give the tree a suggestion of bark (use the illustrations in the book for inspiration if you're stuck). Use the glue stick to glue the tree to the light colored construction paper.

Use a strong pair of scissors to cut out one section of the egg carton, then cut that one section in half at an angle. This will be the nest! Use white glue to attach it to the top of the tree. Let it dry.

While the nest is drying, make a crow out of black paper. Use the glue stick to add the crow to the picture. Next, cut several very skinny strips of different lengths. These will be the "twigs" on the nest.  Use white glue to glue the twigs onto the nest (be sure the nest has fully dried first). 

If you like, give the crow something to carry! Simply glue a length of yarn or fabric (or anything else you can think of) so that it looks like it is hanging from its feet. The last step is to fill the nest so that it will be a very cozy place for baby crows to hang out!


Saturday, January 26, 2019

Eight Perfectly Poetic Picture Books


When you think of poetry for kids, does your mind jump to poetry collections like Shel Silverstein's A LIGHT IN THE ATTIC and Jack Prelutsky's IT'S RAINING PIGS AND NOODLES, or the poems published in magazines like HIGHLIGHTS FOR CHILDREN and LADYBUG?

If so, you're not alone. But some of the best poetry for kids comes in the form of picture books. Not a collection of poems in the form of a picture book, but a picture book that tells a complete story in verse.

This is not necessarily referring to a picture book written in rhyme. While there is obviously a poetic element to a rhyming picture book story, a poetic picture book does more than tell a story with fun language, even meter, and rhyming text. The entire book, whether rhyming or not, reads and feels like poetry. Because it is poetry!

Verse is a powerful storytelling tool. The language is lyrical, often rhythmic (even when it doesn't rhyme), and there is an intimate, emotional quality with verse that often escapes traditional prose.Verse draws the reader in in order to share an experience, not merely relate a story.

The eight books listed below are books that I believe are stunning examples of picture books that utilize verse to its fullest effect. I hope you will use them to help open the eyes of young readers in your life to the world of poetry in picture book text.














A DANCE LIKE STARLIGHT by Kristy Dempsey, illustrated by Floyd Cooper

Told in a flowing, free verse style, this picture book about a young girl's dreams of becoming a ballerina is sure to tug on your heart strings. Floyd Cooper's warm illustrations perfectly capture the life of the text.












DOGKU by Andrew Clements

This is a sweet story of a dog finding a home, told completely in haiku.














WON TON: A CAT TALE TOLD IN HAIKU by Lee Wardlaw, illustrated by Eugene Yeltsin

Another pet story told in haiku, this book is both amusing and touching.














HOUSE HELD UP BY TREES by Ted Kooser, illustrated by Jon Klaassen

Let's just say I wish more of Ted Kooser's poetry would be published in picture book form!














TWILIGHT CHANT by Holly Thompson, illustrated by Jen Betton

This book is beautifully lyrical, with illustrations to match. It perfectly captures the almost magical feeling of twilight.














OVER IN THE WETLANDS by Caroline Starr Rose, illustrated by Rob Dunlavey

I've never been in the midst of a hurricane, but the text and illustrations in this book make me feel like I'm *almost* there!














A HOUSE THAT ONCE WAS by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Lane Smith

This book perfectly captures the adventurous, mysterious feel of exploring an abandoned structure.













ONE DAY IN THE EUCALYPTUS, EUCALYPTUS TREE by Daniel Bernstrom, illustrated by Brenden Wenzel

The language in this book is perfection. It captures the silly, exaggerated feel of the folksy tale, with words and sounds that at once bounce off the page and roll off the tongue. It is an absolute joy to read!









Wednesday, January 02, 2019

I Have an Announcement to Make!


Do you like salsa? And picture books? And fractured fairy tales told in rhyme? Then I have a treat for you! Coming spring of 2020 from Clarion Books is...

Federico and the Wolf, a rhyming, gender-swapped retelling of Little Red Riding Hood with Mexican flair, to be illustrated by the awesomely talented Elisa Chavarri!

This book will be my first solo picture book, and I couldn't be more excited about sharing it with you. I hope you will follow along over the next year or so for updates, giveaways, and other fun stuff related to the publication of this new story!