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Showing posts from November, 2020

Gift Giving Guide with Chronicle Kids, Part 1

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In 2017 I reviewed the interactive board book  Masha and Her Sisters    by the ultra-creative Suzy Ultman. I love nesting dolls, and the superb design of Ultman's book worked perfectly with the theme. Since then, Chronicle Books has created an activity book and now a nesting puzzle featuring Masha and her friends. Read on for more Masha - and nesting dolls Ultman designed herself! The Masha and Her Friends Nesting Puzzle  will inspire hours of creative play from the moment it is opened. Like the board book, Masha and her five (smaller) friends have an array of items incorporated into the pattern of their dresses that reflect their interests, from baking to music and dancing to collecting. On the backside are animal friends. Flip Masha over and you find her bear and a jar of honey. Flip Natalya, the smallest friend, and you find a ladybug with paints. Each animal has a number that corresponds with the items for number recognition and counting practice. Once out of the box, you can

SCIENCE COMICS - Crows: Genius Birds by Kyla Vanderklugt, 122 pp. RL 4

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Science Comics    Crows: Genius Birds by Kyla Vanderklugt Review Copy from FirstSecond Crows are fascinating. And entertaining. The same can be said for Science Comics! While I love comics, I don't always like reading about science (or history). This is the fourth in this series of twenty-one books  that I have reviewed ( Dinosaurs , Coral Reefs and Volcanoes ) always hooked by the storytelling aspect of these non-fiction books. In Crows: Genius Birds, Vanderklugt gets readers wanting to know more about these birds that are not always popular or even liked with Buddy, a playful dog who is befriended by a crow. While the crow coaxes Buddy out so that his friends can have a go at the dog's dinner (which is in the house, behind a doggie door and no obstacle for these genius birds...) the relationship proves to be mutually beneficial and engagingly educational. Making their way through town looking for the best morsels of food to be found gives Crow the perfect opportunity to exp

Arlo & Pips: King of the Birds by Elise Gravel, 64 pp, RL 1.5

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Arlo & Pips : King of the Birds   by Elise Gravel Purchased at Barnes & Noble Arlo & Pips: King of the Birds is the ninth book I have reviewed by the amazing Elise Gravel and her work never fails to engage and delight me. Part buddy story, part non-fiction, King of the Birds finds friends Arlo, a crow, and Pips, a little, yellow bird, getting to know each other. Well, really, it's more about Pips getting to know Arlo, who refers to himself as "King of the Feathered World." Arlo shows off, while also demonstrating why he just might deserve the title he has given himself. Every time Arlo shares a fact about crows, Gravel includes a red star in his word bubble, alerting readers to visit a fact box at the bottom of the page. And the fact! I learned so many cool things about crows, including the fact that they are able to count as high as six, maybe more, and they might even be able to add (it's really funny when Pips tries to count) and that crows will play

How to Raise a Reader by Pamela Paul and Maria Russo, illustrated by Dan Yaccarino, Lisk Feng, Vera Brosgol and Monica Garwood, 216 pp, RL: ALL AGES

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  How to Raise a Reader   by Pamela Paul and Maria Russo , Editors, The New York Times Book Review Review Copy from Workman Publishing I have spent the last two and a half decades working to help parents raise readers and share my passion for reading, always trying to translate the joy, connection, expansion, and satisfaction that can be found in a good book with the goal of creating lifelong readers. While I always approach a bookshelf, be it in a bookstore, library, classroom, or living room, with a curious, if discerning, eye, I frequently have to remind myself that most adults don't. When my kids started school, I remember being shocked to learn that their teachers, regardless of the grade, did not read children's books outside of the classroom. I learned this again working as an elementary school librarian where many of my colleagues did not read children's books outside of work. My initial outrage gradually mellowed into the realization that not every person raising

The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen, 256 pp, RL

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The Magic Fish   by Trung Le Nguyen Review Copy from RH Graphic Le Nguyen's debut is a stunning instance of words and pictures working together equally to tell a story. Or, as Le Ngyuen says in "Between Words and Pictures," back matter that adds depth to an already profound work, "comic books speak a hybrid language between orthography and iconography." Hybrid languages, be it words and pictures, Vietnamese and English, real life and fairy tales, is a theme in  The Magic Fish , the story of a boy struggling to find a way to tell his parents, immigrants from Vietnam, that his is gay when there is no word for it in the Vietnamese language.  Set in 1998, Tiến and his mother, a seamstress who works at a costume store, practice their English in the evenings by reading out loud to each other. As Hiền, or Helen, sews patches onto Tiến's coat so they can get one more year out of it, he reads "Tattercoats," one of the many variations on Cinderella.  [[My fa

Mr. Wolf's Class #4: Field Trip by Aaron Nels Steinke, 169 pp, RL 3

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  Mr. Wolf's Class #4: Field Trip by Aaron Nels Steinke Review Copy from Graphix It's rare that I review more than the first or second book in a series, but Steinke's graphic novels about crazy fifth graders and their calm, if sometimes frazzled, teacher are books that I wait anxiously for and devour in one sitting. Steinke, a fourth and fifth grade teacher, captures the spirit of nine and ten-year-olds, picking up on the little things you might not notice unless you are around them all the time, embodying them in animal characters that make the stories even more entertaining. In Field Trip , the fourth book with these fifth graders, the Hazelwood Elementary kids are going to camp! Fifth grade camp! I will never forget going with my class - and meeting kids from other schools - and am grateful it's something I got to do. It was a joy to travel back in time and remember that while traveling into the mountains for some outdoor education. Of course, there are ups and down

Twins by Varian Johnson & Shannon Wright, 256 pp, RL 4

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  Twins   by Varian Johnson & Shannon Wright Review copy from Graphix While Johnson and Wright's stellar graphic novel (the first in a series!) is a sibling story about identical twins, it's truly a universal story about learning who you are and how you connect with the people around you. And,  Twins is notable in that it joins a small, but hopefully growing list of real-life graphic novels with Black protagonists.  From the first pages where we meet Maureen and Francine Carter, it's clear that they are two very different people, no matter how similar they look. In fact, their father says that Francine is the talker and Maureen, the narrator, is the thinker. As Maureen navigates a new and uncertain world, from classes - even lunch period - without her sister, to an unexpected spot in Cadet Corps, she realizes that she doesn't have Francine to lean on anymore. This is especially true as it gradually becomes clear that Francine doesn't want to be leaned on. Fran