PPBF: The Playgrounds of Babel

Author: JonArno Lawson
Illustrator:
 Piet Grobler
Publisher: Groundwood books, 2019
Age: 
4-8
Themes: playgrounds, language, diverse community
Opening: “(lettering that looks like code).” “What is she saying?” “I’ll translate.”

Summary: (from the publisher) This story begins with an old woman telling a tale to a group of children in a playground. One of the boys can’t understand what she is saying, so another offers to translate. The old woman’s tale is inspired by the Tower of Babel story. Told entirely through dialogue, moving back and forth between the old woman’s tale and the exchange between the two boys, this story raises questions about what divides us and what brings us together, in spite of all our differences.

I like this book because: the reaction! I just shared this book with a friend and former biologist and the look on her face reading the first page was priceless! disgust and laughter in the first paragraph! we were just talking about education reform, and THIS book epitomizes the approach we would like to see, coupling fun with learning! Solid facts with hilarious humor – and many other levels of practical knowledge. PERFECT!

Resources/activities: check and see if your local or school library has books in other languages, or bilingual books. Go ahead and “judge them by their covers”. Try and read them aloud, even if you don’t know what you’re saying! It can be fun to try. Now try and decipher what those words might be, based on the language skills you already possess. So many words in English have been borrowed and transformed from other languages, so you might be surprised that you recognize some! Do the pictures seem to help you understand?

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

Posted in Perfect Picture Book Friday

PPBF: 13 Ways to Eat a Fly

Author: Sue Heavenrich
Illustrator:
 David Clark
Publisher: Charlesbridge, 2021
Age: 
4-9
Themes: flies, counting, humorous non-fiction
Opening: See image below

Summary: (from the publisher) Thirteen flies become tasty snacks in this clever reverse counting book about predators and prey. Science meets subtraction as a swarm of flies buzzes along, losing one member to each predator along the way. Includes a guide to eating bugs, complete with nutritional information for a single serving of flies.

I like this book because: the reaction! I just shared this book with a friend and former biologist and the look on her face reading the first page was priceless! disgust and laughter in the first paragraph! we were just talking about education reform, and THIS book epitomizes the approach we would like to see, coupling fun with learning! Solid facts with hilarious humor – and many other levels of practical knowledge. PERFECT!

Resources/activities: pick one of the 13 ways and delve deeper – choose the predator you like the most, and the one that grosses you out the most! And be sure to share your knowledge at the dinner table! Spring is here and so are other insects. Take a walk and note what plants they are attracted to and discuss why you think so; look it up to see if you are close with your assumptions. Make a fly puppet from an old sock (the one that lost its pair), buttons, some stuffing, and pipe cleaners.

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

PPBF: Out of Nowhere

Author/Illustrator: Chris Naylor-Ballesteros
Publisher: S&S, 2021
Age: 
4-8
Themes: best friends, beetles, metamorphosis

Opening:  Once, I had a friend. She arrived out of nowhere one day. I asked where she’d come from, but she just didn’t know.

Summary: (from my library catalog) A beetle courageously sets out in search of his best friend–a caterpillar that arrived out of nowhere and vanished without warning.

I like this book because: I fell for the cover! I am a fan of metamorphosis stories, and a few are way up there with my favorite books. So, what did this offer that was unique? For one, THE COVER, but all the illustrations are beautifully composed, simple yet striking, and with a limited palette (if you’ve been reading any of my posts you know I go weak in the knees for a limited palette!). And the beetle has so much personality, you just wanna hug them! I am not posting spreads that go too far into the story – I don’t want to spoil the experience for anyone! Find it!

Resources/activities: first, read other metamorphosis stories, and please try my favorite: Tadpole’s Promise, Jeanne Willis and Tony Ross; Read a book with a limited palette similar to Out of Nowhere, like: Shadow by Suzy Lee; watch a video:

A little excitement to share – knowing that an appearance in PW may never happen again!

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

I’m also over at Vivian Kirkfield’s blog TOMORROW talking about I’M A HARE SO THERE! with a GIVEAWAY!

PPBF: No Roses for Harry!

Author: Gene Zion
Illustrator:
 Margaret Bloy Graham
Publisher: Harper & Row, 1958
Age: 
3-7
Themes: dogs, gifts, sweaters
Opening: See images below

Summary: (from Amazon) Harry is the not-too-happy recipient of a handmade sweater, and what makes matters worse is that it’s a sweater with a pattern of roses. Harry does everything he can think of to get rid of that sweater. But when it seems like he’ll never lose the sweater, an unexpected visitor helps him solve his problem…

I like this book because: everyone loves Harry the Dog, but this particular edition from the series is printed on a luminescent yellow paper! (If anyone out there has a first edition or at least a much older copy, please let me know if it also used this paper.) It transforms the reading experience in an unexpected way which fascinates me! The limited color palette in the illustrations is common because of the old printing process at the time it was published, but this yellow paper amplifies the beauty of that simplicity, I cant stop looking, and these photos do not do it justice! That’s it! Please, if you’ve seen this, share your thoughts with me!

Resources/activities: draw with colored pencils or crayons on different colored papers and and compare how it affects the colors you’ve drawn with, or use collage to compare colors; read An Eye for Color, by Natasha Wing and Julia Breckenreid, and Squares & other shapes with Josef Albers (video link).

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

PPBF: Little Mouse’s Big Breakfast

Author/Illustrator: Christine Pym
Publisher: Nosy Crow, 2018
Age: 
3-7
Themes: mice, breakfast, hunger

Opening:  On a cold crisp day, as the night crept in, a hungry little mouse discovered he had nothing to nibble for breakfast the next morning.

Summary: (from my library catalog) When Little Mouse realizes he has nothing for breakfast the next morning, he makes his way to the kitchen next door and finds all sorts of appetizing foods that will be perfect for his breakfast..

I like this book because: I’ve been thinking a lot of my friend who lives on Blueberry Hill, and reading this reminded me of her, not because her eyes are bigger than her belly, but her heart is so generous! And it’s got beautiful illustrations sprinkled with fun details, a delicious palette, striking compositions – and an adorable story!

Resources/activities: discuss your favorite breakfast foods; talk about Mouse’s food choices and which ones are healthy and why; consider filling our plates with our eyes compared to our appetites; gather objects and give them food names from the book, then see how many you can stack before it all tumbles down.

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

I’m also over at Writer’s Rumpus today talking about I’M A HARE SO THERE!, with a GIVEAWAY!

PPBF: Bea & Mr. Jones

Author/Illustrator: Amy Schwartz
Publisher: Harcourt, 1982
Age: 
4-8
Themes: parent-child relationships, school, work

Opening:  “I’ve had it with Kindergarten!” Bea Jones said to her father as he was sitting down to breakfast. “I’ve had it with bean bag games! I’ve had it with clothespin games! I’ve had it with sitting on that dumb green rug and playing that dumb colored lollipop game! I’m ready for a change.”

Summary: (from my library catalog) Tired of kindergarten, Bea Jones trades “jobs” with her father, who works in an office.

I like this book because: At first glance, I somehow thought I might not like this one. The perspective on the cover gave me the heebie-jeebies! But I opened it and the simple but effective endpapers hooked me in – thank goodness. There are so many wonderful details like hidden artwork (kitchen calendar, bosses office) in the pencil illustrations, so many fun pattern clashes (see the image directly below!) I spent a lot of time looking for more on each page! It’s basically a Freaky Friday story (published 10yrs earlier) with a cuter ending! Try to find it – worth the effort!

Resources/activities: draw boxes or shapes of black and white patterns directly next to each other; have a chat with a parent or guardian about what it would be like to switch places; dress each other up as if you would!

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

I’m also over at Beth Anderson’s blog today talking about how my forthcoming character-driven fictional picture book became “informational fiction” – with BACK MATTER!

PPBF: Mel Fell

Author/Illustrator: Corey R. Tabor
Publisher: Balzer+Bray, 2021
Age: 
3-7
Themes: fledglings, kingfishers, interactive-stories

Opening:  see below

Summary: (from my library catalog) …follow Mel on her journey from downward fall to triumphant flight in this tale of self-confidence and taking a leap of faith.

I like this book because: I don’t think you need to be a lover of birds (I am!) or a professional storytime coordinator (I am!) to fall for a book that both introduces a species and is perfect for read-alouds to fall for Mel Fell! I placed a hold on the book because I liked the cover, but knew nothing about it. And because the surprise is so delightful I want new readers to have that same experience, so that’s all you’re getting from me!

Resources/activities: read other books about fledglings, like: A Round of Robins/Hesterman and Ruzzier; My Brother the Duck/Miller and Wiseman; Flight School/Judge; read interactive books together, like: Shake the Tree/Vignocchi, Chiarinotti, and Borando; Get Out of My Bath/Teckentrup

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

PPBF: Louis and Valentine cards

Author/Illustrator: Julie Rowan-Zoch (ME!)
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2020
Age: 
3-7
Themes: teddy bears, frustration, friendship,

“Undies” Case
endpapers

Summary: (from my library catalog) Tired of the “dangerous adventures” with his human boy, a teddy bear decides to run away but reconsiders when bedtime arrives.

photo from a dear friend (great lighting!)

Why the shameless self promotion: yes, it might be a bit much BUT I wanted to maximize the sharing of the ♥️ Valentine cards to print and color which Tom and I created in time for World Read Aloud Day (2.3.21). That’s it! ♥️ Go to HMH and click on the links to the right under “Available Resources”.

Resources/activities: print out and color 🎁 LOUiS’ Valentine cards and share; make a 🧸teddy with a small towel (see below); have a ☕️🫖 tea party with 🧁cupcakes and invite your friends and stuffed-ones; 🔖tag your most beloved stuffies with contact info; print out LOUiS activity sheets at HMH (click on the links on the right under “Available Resources”.)

lots of how-to videos on youtube

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

AND while I’m at it, here’s another nice review my upcoming book!

PPBF: Raising Dragons

Author: Jerdine Nolen
Illustrator:
 Elise Primavera
Publisher: Harcourt, 1998
Age: 
4-8
Themes: dragons, farm life, friendship
Opening: Pa didn’t know a thing about raising dragons. He raised corn and peas and barley and whet. He raised sheep and cows and pigs and chickens. He raised just about everything we needed for life on our farm, but he didn’t know a thing about raising dragons.

Summary: (from my library catalog) A farmer’s young daughter shares numerous adventures with the dragon that she raises from infancy.

I like this book because: of the way Nolen tells a story. She has the reader believing everything without an ounce of doubt, and identifying with the main character and her firm confidence in her own abilities. Pure magic and an absolute joy to read aloud! Once upon a time I was a parent of young children, and I was reluctant to read long stories to my kids at the end of the day. I realize now I cheated myself from discovering some of the best writing. Don’t miss out. Don’t be a Lazy Julie!

Resources/activities: research all the creatures that are oviparous; compare the shape, color and sizes of eggs; talk about what to do if you should find one in the wild; read more books by Jerdine Nolen!

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

PPBF: There Must Be More Than That!

Author/Illustrator: Shinsuke Yoshitake
Publisher: Chronicle, 2020
Age: 
4-8
Themes: future, imagination, family

Opening: see below

Summary: (from my library catalog) Troubled because her brother has told her that the future of Earth is bleak, a little girl goes to her grandmother who assures her that there are many possible futures and encourages her to use her imagination to explore some of the alternatives.

I like this book because: I have to say I fell in love with the grandmother here! We try to protect children from terrible things yet inevitably they will hear about them and I was glad to see the main character sought out advice from her grandmother, but reflected and made her own way in dealing with them. Heavy stuff tackled in such a creative way – plus I am a sucker for all his books, must say!

Resources/activities: reading this book together will open all the cans of worms and leading all readers to discuss everything – what an opportunity! Take it! Read other books by Yoshitake

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