November 27, 2017

Creepy Pair of Underwear by Aaron Reynolds, illustrated by Peter Brown

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 9:08 pm by suebe2

Creepy Pair of Underwear
by Aaron Reynolds
illustrated by Peter Brown
Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers

Jasper is not a little bunny so when he goes to the underwear store with his mother, he’s ready for big boy underwear.  And for Jasper, that means going with the creepy underwear.

The first thing he notices about his purchase is that they glow in the dark. The greenish glow keeps him up so he buries them in the bottom of his laundry hamper. But when he wakes up in the morning he is wearing none other than the creepy underwear.

He tries hiding them in a drawer and even cutting them into tiny squares but the underwear just keeps coming back.  I’m not going to tell you how Jasper finally succeed in ridding himself of the underwear menace but when he does he actually misses them.  His room is just too dark.

In the end, Jasper proves what a grown up bunny he is and surrounds himself with creepy underwear.

Like Reynolds’ Creepy Carrots, this is picture book horror at its finest.  The story is creepy but also funny because – underwear!   Preschoolers as a whole find the word and everything about it just plain funny.

As an adult, I had to wonder if this story was born of a pair of underwear that had a tendency to creep up.  Not polite, but it is something irritating that the wrong pair will do. As a parent, I realize how funny young readers will find these ridiculous underwear as well as the thought that underwear can be scary.

The creepy factor is emphasized by the black and white, picture book noir, effect with only the underwear being in color.   As always, Brown’s illustrations add tons of fun to the story.  That said, I was a tad disappointed when the cover did not glow in the dark.  Yes, I tested it.

Still a fun story to help introduce young readers to a discussion of what is scary and how what is scary to one bunny, or person, doesn’t phase another.  Share this one with a young reader in your life!  This pair also wrote and illustrated Creepy Carrots.


November 25, 2017

Malala’s Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai, illustrated by Kerascoët

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 6:16 pm by suebe2

Malala’s Magic Pencil
by Malala Yousafzai
illustrated by Kerascoët
Little Brown and Company

Do you know a girl who needs inspiration?  This is the perfect picture book!

“Do you believe in magic?” That’s the question Malala asks readers.  She and her brothers used to watch a children’s program about a boy with a magic pencil. He drew food to feed himself when he was hungry.  He used the pencil to get people out of trouble.  Malala dreamed of having a magic pencil of her own.

Even as a young girl, Malala loved school.  She studied hard but couldn’t help noticing as the other girls dropped out. Powerful, dangerous men had said that girls should not be educated so they no longer felt safe in the classroom.

Malala didn’t have a magic pencil but she was a good writer and thought that she could help. She wrote about what it was like to be scared to walk to school. She wrote about her friends who had moved away to safer places. Her writing appeared online and in the paper.  She even did a tv interview.  She was scared but she believed she had to speak out for those who didn’t have the ability.

She drew attention and the powerful men wanted to silence her. Fortunately they failed.

Because many other people have joined Malala in speaking out, their voices have come together.  They make her voice is much stronger and she believes that this magic can change the world.

This is truly an amazing, inspirational book.  It is also perfect for a picture book audience.  Malala doesn’t go into what happened to her, only saying that the men wanted to stop her.  The backmatter includes photos of her and her family, all of whom now live in England.

The illustrations for this book were created by Kerascoët.  This is the pen name of the French illustrators and animation artists Marie Pommepuy and Sébastien Cosset. Their style compliments this story and helps bring Malala to life for young readers.

Share this story with the young readers on your list this holiday season.  Bring it into the classroom and use it to launch a discussion of the problems your students see in their communities and what they might do to change the world.


November 16, 2017

I am Peace: A Book of Mindfulness by Susan Verde, illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , at 8:33 pm by suebe2

I am Peace:
A Book of Mindfulness
by Susan Verde
illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds
Abrams Books for Young Readers

How do you explain to a young reader just how to chill the heck out?  With a great picture book like I am Peace: A Book of Mindfulness. Told in the first person, the reader follows the narrator through a journey of self-awareness.  And really, this kid could be any of us.

“There are times
when I worry about
what might happen next
and what happened before.”

We’ve all been there.  Fortunately, the young narrator knows how to go from feeling unanchored to noting the ground beneath his feet.

This book deals with a lot of abstracts — mindfulness, focus, and clarity.  But it does so in a way that young readers, and even older readers hung all over with their preconceptions, can understand. He notices the here and now. He inventories how he is feeling and names those feelings. He shares kindness, feeding birds, and then takes it easy beneath a tree that sprouts from a fallen birdseed.

In this book, small acts take root and have big consequences as they bless many.

The art may look familiar as it is provided by Peter H. Reynolds who wrote and illustrated The Dot. Reynolds’ fluid style is colored by watercolors and . . . you’ll never guess this one . . . tea.  His inked character is expressive, clearly showing as he lets go of tension and negativity.

Verde’s final note includes information on guided meditation for those who have never used this technique and want to give it a try. Reynolds and Verde worked together on another picture book, I am Yoga.  

Celebrate Picture Book Month by sharing this title with your young reader.  It would make a great bed time book but don’t limit it to quiet times.  It would also be a good launching off point for a discussion on dealing with negativity and how what we bring into this world, whether it is anger or peace, spreads to and impacts others.



November 12, 2017

A Single Pearl by Donna Jo Napoli, illustrated by Jim LaMarche

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:00 am by suebe2

A Single PearlA Single Pearl
by Donna Jo Napoli
illustrated by Jim LaMarche

How often do you get to read a story told from the point of view of a grain of sand?

A grain of sand falls into the ocean. There was so much sand that the single grain felt incredibly unimportant and wondered how it would ever have an impact.

As a hungry oyster drew water through its gills, it pulled in the grain of sand. The sand lodged between the oyster’s mantle and shell.  It could not get free.  Slowly the oyster covered the sand with a beautiful shiny layer.

One day, I diver dug the oyster up and found the pearl inside. The diver sold it to a prince.  The prince gave it to his wife and she gave it to their daughter.

The princess loved this gift and it the sand knew it had served a great purpose.

The story is loosely based on a medieval Persian poem and is complimented by the subtle tones of the acrylics and colored pencils.  The color shifts are subtle and warm like the beauty of a pearl and the rhythms and deeper meanings found in poetry.

I have to admit that I was less than enthusiastic when I realized I had picked up a book about . . . a grain of sand?  Seriously?  But November is Picture Book Month and I had scooped up a huge arm load of books at the library.

I’m truly glad that I didn’t put it down because the warmth and beauty of this story is something worth experiencing.  It is a gentle loving story, perfect for sharing with a special young reader at bed time or just during cuddling-and-reading time.

It would make a strong introduction to discussions about things that matter and have lasting value.  Add it to your shelf or bring it home from the library.  Celebrate Picture Book Month!


November 4, 2017

City and Country by Jody Jensen Shaffer

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , at 1:45 pm by suebe2

City and Country
by Jody Jensen Shaffer
National Geographic Kids

Kids in the country get green space and nature.  Right?

Kids in the city get to do exciting things with their friends.  Right?

We all have preconceived ideas about what it is like to live in the city and what it is like to live in the country.  This co-reader from National Geographic kids sets the record straight. It talks about everything from where people live to what they do for fun, green spaces and learning.

You may not be familiar with the term co-reader.  I wasn’t when the author told me about her book so I asked her to explain it to me. A co-reader is meant for the child who has just reached the point of reading independently.  The left hand page of each spread is for the adult to read.  It tells something about city or country life.  The right hand page is for the young reader.  Obviously, it is a bit easier to read but it also shared information.  The grown up doesn’t get all the fun facts!

Early readers are tricky.  You want them to be engaging but it is hard to introduce information when a reader is still developing their skills.  Fortunately there are lots of photos to help decipher the text.

And the photos added a lot to the book.  What I liked most about them was that they weren’t all from the US or Europe. But it was done in a way that felt natural not in a way that felt like diversity was added because “we have to do it.”  Honestly, I spent a lot of time flipping between the images and the photo credits just because I’m a fact hound.

Each section ends with a thought exercise.  One asks young readers to look at each photo and tell if it is city or country and how they know this.  Another asks the young reader to consider the sights and smells in the world around them.

Look for these books in your library.  Add them to your classroom shelf.  They provide not only help in developing food for thought but also encouragement to exercise those brains.


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