PPBF: Trouble Gum

Author/Illustrator: Matthew Cordell
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends, 2009
Ages: 2-6
Themes: humorous stories, pigs,  boredom, bubble gum
Opening: “The trouble at the Figg’s house began one rainy day when Grammy was over for tea. Mom was knitting a blanket for Julius. Ruben stared out of the living room window. 
Summary: (from my library catalogue) Playing indoors with his little brother on a rainy day, a rambunctious young pig causes a ruckus and then breaks his mother’s three chewing gum rules.

Why I like this book: Whilst browsing for bug books a la Cronin, I plucked this ‘old’ Cordell favorite. When it first came out, I was ultra-jealous of this oh-so-clever title, and I wasn’t even writing yet! In the book I saw myself … and the broken mirror, the hole in the door, lice in my hair, the glue on the carpet (all details will resurface in my own books!) – just a few very relatable sore-spots. And the art is just right – clean, crisp and clever!

click the image to go to Simon Decker’s page

Resources/activities: if you are a visual teacher, you might feel inspired by this pinterest board; read about the invention of bubble gum – HERE; learn the scientific method using bubble gum – HERE

Thump

read the book if you want to find out what THUMP is all about

For more Perfect Picture Book picks with teacher/parent resources, check out the list on Susanna Hill’s blog HERE.

Advertisements

Fractured Tales Contest: Blue-Bill

Susanna Hill is having a March-Madness writing contest. The rules: Write a children’s story, in poetry or prose, maximum 400 words, that is a fractured fairy tale. Mine is not a fracturing of the gruesome French Bluebeard tale (read it HERE), though I alluded to it in my 383-word reconstruction of the English fairy tale, The Magpie’s Nest (read it HERE) , for an American audience. Hope you enjoy it!

BLUE BILL

The other birds were suspicious when Black-billed Magpie opened a nest-building school.

“He has skills,” remarked Chickadee.

“And he’s clever,” said Wren

“Look at all his shiny treasures too,” said Hummingbird.

“I wouldn’t trust that ‘Blue-bill’ with a ten inch twig! Bet he lines his basement with little bird bones!” said Robin, and flew off. But the rest were in awe and stayed.

“Before building you must be in good physical shape,” said Magpie. He explained everything he knew about nutrition, fresh air and exercise. But Wren was easily bored, and the lessons hadn’t even started yet. So Wren left and made a nest in an old shoe.

“Location, location, location,” said Magpie. “First you need a good spot. Without one, it doesn’t matter how well you build.”

“But how do you know? How can you be sure? Do you have a checklist? Is spring best for building? What time of day?” Chickadee went on and on, with more and more questions.

“Well, I am very wise. I just…know,” said Magpie. But answers like that were not sufficient for Chickadee. He flew off too.

“Next, you will need materials,” said Magpie. “Twigs, leaves and sticks of the best quality.”

“I can’t carry thick twigs like you. I’m not strong enough. I’m just a little bird,” said the Hummingbird.

Magpie saw his chance. “Then allow me to offer my home. We can nest very snuggly together.”

“I’m not so sure that would be wise. I have heard stories,” said the Hummingbird.

“That’s just what they are – stories.” Sensing Hummingbird’s lack of trust, Magpie made another offer. “My home would be yours and my treasures too. Anything your heart desires.”

“Really? Then I’ll have that red gem to wear around my neck. Bring it down and help me put it on, would you?” asked Hummingbird.

Magpie seized his chance. But while Hummingbird kept him busy, another bird proved to be the wiser and moved into Magpie’s excellent nest while he was out! The Great-Horned Owl was not skilled, but fierce!

But Black-billed Magpie was outsmarted twice that day. While he was busy constructing a new nest, Hummingbird got away – far away!

And that, my friends, is why the Ruby-throated Hummingbird lives in the east and the Black-billed Magpie lives in the west.

Idea note_20140322_154108_03

rubythroated hummingbirdPlease pop over and read the other entries – HERE

PPBF: I Didn’t Do My Homework Because…

Author: Davide Cali
Illustrator: Benjamin Chaud
Publisher: Chronicle Books, 2014
Ages: (from the publisher, but I would say 6+) Text Level Gradient: N
Themes: humorous stories, homework, excuses
Opening: “So, why didn’t you do your homework.” I didn’t do my homework because… An Airplane full of monkeys landed in our yard. 
Summary: (from my library catalogue) A humorous story about the absurd excuses for not doing homework. –Essentially it is a concept book, with a sweet twist at the end!

I like this book because: No need for me to rave about the story, because every page is it’s own! I think any kid who has every taken a moment to think of an excuse will get a real kick out of this. And each spread’s illustration is laden with more hysterical details, with terrific energy and an appealing use of color. Totally satisfying read that you’ll want to repeat immediately.

Resources/activities: I think this book could be used in the classroom to inspire a creative writing class to go above and beyond, to let their imaginations take them by surprise.

For more Perfect Picture Book picks with teacher/parent resources, check out the list on Susanna Hill’s blog HERE.

IDDMHB...

PPBF: The Plant Sitter

PlantSitter

A classic to celebrate SPRING and my 2nd Blogiversary!

Author: Gene Zion
Illustrator: Margaret Bloy Graham
Publisher: Harper & Brothers, 1959
Ages: 3 and up
Themes: plants, ingenuity, community
Opening: “I’m a plant sitter!” said Tommy. “That’s nice, dear,” said his mother. “Tell me about it later. I’m going shopping and I’ll be back soon.”

P1150385

Summary: (from my Kirkus reviews) Tommy’s remarkable skill with caring for plants virtually turns his orderly house into a jungle. Mother frowns, father is perturbed, but Tommy vehemently pursues his career of caring for the vacationing neighbors’ plants. A twist of the familiar baby-sitting situation, a dash of fantasy, and the bouquet of Margaret Graham’s illustrations blend here in one of the most beguiling books of the season.

PS-breakfastI like this book because: it’s a story that celebrates independence, ingenuity, imagination and problem solving. The writing seems simple with no-nonsense vocabulary and a low word-count, but anyone who has attempted to write a picture book knows how difficult that really is. The energy from the initial illustrations is well-preserved with simple wash effects using just three colors. A classic gem!

PS-house

Resources/activities: this would be a great book to introduce the spring curriculum and germinate plants in the classroom, or the home windowsill; In art class, the book can be used to discuss the blending of primary colors to produce secondaries; watch this is a clip from “RHYTHMS OF NATURE IN THE BARYCZ VALLEY” movie at the bottom of this post, or – HERE

PS-potting

For more Perfect Picture Book picks with teacher/parent resources, check out the list on Susanna Hill’s blog HERE.

Food Fight Finale

This is how it began…

Mateo_01-1

THE DREADED INTENT

It was a lunch hour like any other at Bacon Elementary, when a chill ran up Mateo’s spine. His hair stood at attention down his bony arms. Cautiously he lifted his gaze, millimeter by millimeter. He dreaded the worst. And sure as a pop-tart is sugary, there she was, staring straight at him. Priscilla Weatherspoon – the meanest, leanest prankster this side of the Mississippi. Her eyes grew smaller as they locked onto his. Slowly, slowly but sure as a mosquito bite, she drew her chin towards her chest and that’s when Mateo saw The Intent, right there under her thick, dark caterpillar eyebrows knit between her tightly pulled braids. Those chesnut-brown peepers were. not. cute. He knew then and there. He had just become her business. It was a speck of a second, but felt like slow-motion sickness. As the sweat started to gather in his armpits, and a heat rose to his ears, he lowered his sandwich with his left hand as he went for the juice box with his right…

This is what happened next…

..hand, juice squelched right into meanie Priscilla’s sour face. SPLISH! Wiping sticky juice from her eyes, she fired back an apple and struck Mateo square on the noggin. She didn’t even need to aim! KATHUNK! It bounced off Mateo’s head, and hit Jamie Frank in the back, and rolled to the feet of the lunch lady! Jamie, picking up today’s special (meatball sandwich)… SPLIT, SPLOT, SPLAT meatballs fell from the soggy sandwich as Jamie catapulted the wet mess toward… Emily Krump PLOP the soggy sandwich landed across her forehead. Taking her pudding cup firmly in her hand she… launched the SQUISHY, QUIVERING treat across the table into Mateo’s no longer SQUEAKY lunch box. Mateo responded quickly by… slammed it down as hard as she could. SHKLAP chocolate rain came down on all the near by tables. Jamie slipped on the droplets sending… . . . placed the small spoon into the cup, tasted a bit of the chocolate glop and thinking, “Mm, this is good. Such a shame to waste it,” Emily picked up Andy’s applesauce instead, dumping it on top Jamie’s head SMOOSH! it drained down his face. Red applesauce faced, Jamie … grabbed up one of the meatballs rolling across the floor and flinged it at Priscilla’s ear. DONG! it rang as Priscilla paused to reach for more ammunition. jumped on top the table, ripped the top off his Hostess cupcakes, balled them tightly and aimed at the back of Mrs. Huntley’s three foot high beehive hair do. WHING, FLING, DING!…Contact! Mrs. Huntley turned… . . . around quickly to see who was responsible for such rude behavior in the lunchroom. As she made a pirouette, to reprimand the rascle, Mrs. Huntley’s now one foot beehive hair do, adorned with sticky chocolate crumbs and sweet vanilla goo wooshed about smacking Mr. Ham, the principal . . . in the face. WHACK! Mr. Ham hit the floor, dazed and sticky. Just then, Jamie, still oozing applesauce down his chin, slid into Mr. Ham, landing with an OOF! atop the heavy-set principal. Mr. Ham rolled Jamie off of his wide belly and said, . . . nothing anyone could understand because much like a roast pig (his namesake), his face was hot-red and one of the meatballs plugged his mouth. Sounding much like the adults in “Peanuts” animation, Mr. Ham yelled, “Mwooo mwamwamwamwa mwaw mweh?!” He then bit into the meatball and chewed. “Not bad,” he said, then ate the other half. “OK, WHO’S RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS CULINARY CARNAGE?” Mateo ducked out of sight, hoping he would not be blamed. It WAS Priscilla’s fault, after all. Then he saw the juice box, meant for him explode against Mr. Ham’s chest with a loud SPLORT! All heads swiveled accusingly to face Mateo. Mateo tried to quickly duck under the table but it was too late. A laughing Mr Ham grabbed the last remaining meatball and lobbed it across the room. KERPLUNK, SLURP, it hit Mateo in the forehead and SLITHERED… to the lunchroom floor. Oh, no! Mateo was out of ammunition! Then he spied Emily’s cup of lime jello, untouched. So far. Sliding across the table, Mateo grabbed it and SPLOOK! lobbed it at …into Priscilla’s outstretched hand. She closed her fist SQUISHing the meatball. “Hey, Mr. Ham. Why don’t you pick on someone your own size,” she yelled. “Besides it was Jamie Frank who started the whole thing.” Mateo’s mouth fell open… and so did Jamie’s. He remembered being hit by Priscilla’s apple. “NOT TRUE!” he yelled, as he tossed a handful of spaghetti BLORSH covering everyone between him and Priscilla. Which now included the Lunch Lady and the Custodian who were both SIZZLING mad. “Who’s going to clean up this mess?” BLURTED the Custodian as spaghetti streamed down his face.

And this is how it ended…

WWWOOIIIIEEEEEHHH! It was Mrs. Georgakis, the PE teacher, blowing on the trusty whistle hanging ’round her neck! The sudden silence was dizzying, but for the SLURPs, GOOPs and SPLATs as bits dripped down to the floor. Mrs. Georgakis stood measuring, feet apart, hands on her hips, as always. “Fourth graders to the left. Fifth graders to the right. Mr. Ellis, buckets and rags, please. We start work top to bottom,” she ordered. “Not a word.” And they didn’t dare.

Once the tables and benches, walls and floor were wiped, they marched solemnly, single file out to the playground. There were smiles of hope, because no one expected the hose-down. And. It. Was. Cold. The air was warm, but students stood like popsicles. They were meant to shake it off and dry out a bit before heading back to class, but moved like molasses straight from the fridge. Mateo felt a poke in his back. Yep. Priscilla Weatherspoon. “You may have had the first move today, but we have a whole school year ahead of us,” she muttered. He could feel her bitter breath on his neck. “Plenty of time. Plenty.”  GULP!

Priscilla Weather spoon_01-1

Thanks to all who participated: Catherine Johnson, daynesislendesign, Donna L. Sadd, Jacquesartandbooks, KidLitReviews, Lauri Meyers, Lee Braff, Louann Brown, Mary Flynn, Prairie Garden Girl, Sarah Maynard, Sue Poduska, thiskidreviewsbooks, and writersideup! Check out all the wrap ups on Marcie Colleen’s blog – HERE

PPBF: The Snatchabook

Author: Helen Docherty
Illustrator: Thomas Docherty
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabbberwocky, 2013
Ages: 3 and up
Themes: books, stories, community, sharing
Opening: One dark, dark night in Burrow Down, a rabbit named Eliza Brown found a book and settled down…when a Snatchabook flew into town.
Summary: (from my library catalogue) The woodland animals of Burrow Down are ready for a bedtime story, but where are the books? Haha! That was short!

I like this book because: I don’t like to throw out terms like classic, or evergreen, in fact, I haven’t ever attempted to predict a book’s success, but… yeah, I think this is one! Not only a clever premise, but a great read-aloud, and a celebration of stories and reading, inclusion and community. It has a delightful play of contrast with bright, colorful images, and moonlit, windy, owl-hooting darkness and such endearing characters. Oops, I almost forgot…it’s a rhymer!

Resources/activities: This is a perfect vehicle to start a discussion on favorite stories, books we like to read with our families, even how books should be treated and stored; talk about sharing books with those who don’t have many; start a book collection for a school in need; make a drawing/picture or diorama of Eliza’s room in the tree.

For more Perfect Picture Book picks with teacher/parent resources, check out the list on Susanna Hill’s blog HERE.

The Dreaded Intent – Food Fight ’14

YAY!  The Write Routine’s Second Annual FOOD FIGHT! in celebration of World Read Aloud Day is here! The object is to write a story up to the moment when a food fight breaks out. And then stop. Then readers please do as Marcie asks, “Read the posted story and all of the comments that precede you. Then, post your comment. Be sure to build on and further the existing story. Your comment should flow. The story should read as if it was written by one person when read from beginning to end. 

ALSO, your comment needs to include at least one word of onomatopoeia and one thrown item of food. Your onomatopoeia must be a word that has not been used already in that story, as well. That’s right. Be creative. “

THE DREADED INTENT

It was a lunch hour like any other at Bacon Elementary, when a chill ran up Mateo’s spine. His hair stood at attention down his bony arms. Cautiously he lifted his gaze, millimeter by millimeter. He dreaded the worst. And sure as a pop-tart is sugary, there she was, staring straight at him. Priscilla Weatherspoon – the meanest, leanest prankster this side of the Mississippi. Her eyes grew smaller as they locked onto his. Slowly, slowly but sure as a mosquito bite, she drew her chin towards her chest and that’s when Mateo saw The Intent, right there under her thick, dark caterpillar eyebrows knit between her tightly pulled braids. Those chesnut-brown peepers were. not. cute. He knew then and there. He had just become her business. It was a speck of a second, but felt like slow-motion sickness. As the sweat started to gather in his armpits, and a heat rose to his ears, he lowered his sandwich with his left hand as he went for the juice box with his right…

Mateo_01-1

KIDLIT411 Giveaway

If you haven’t already heard about KIDLIT411, what pile of manuscripts have you been hiding under? This week KIDLIT411 is offering a great GIVEAWAY to celebrate their launch. And even if you deplore free things, the interviews this week (every week) will keep you coming back for more. Click HERE.

I love short posts, but I thought I’d include an revelation. I saw a darling photo of a kid-lit friend’s daughter online this morning (Hi Carrie!), and felt compelled to draw. The act of drawing decided on the details for this ‘character’. What I mean is, I didn’t go back to the photo for reference, I let my drawing hand dictate the parts of image I didn’t remember. I let go. And the character made music!

Vivian 2_02(1)Who needs to take silly personality tests when you can draw!