August 15, 2019

Seashells: More than a Home by Melissa Stewart, illustrated by Sarah S. Brannen

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 4:54 pm by suebe2

More than a Home
by Melissa Stewart
illustrated by Sarah S. Brannen

There are jars of seashells on the dresser in our family room.  One is full of shells from Myrtle Beach.  Another from Pensacola.  Sea shells have always fascinated me so I Stewart’s book was a must read.

Stewart explains that there are so many different looking shells because they do so many different jobs.  The nautilus can rise and dive like a submarine. The spirals on a turritella act like an anchor, holding the animal fast to the sea floor.  The chiton even has flexible plates so that the animal can roll up in a protective ball.

I think my favorite was when I learned something new about a shell I have seen.  Abalone shells have a row of holes. It is through these ports that the waste escapes.  I had always wondered why those holes were there.

Brannen’s watercolor illustrations bring these creatures to life.  In the back matter, she confesses that shells are tricky to draw but she’s done a top notch job.  She brings the varied colors and textures of these shells to life.  My favorite illustrations may be the inset drawings that help explain certain features.  These illustrated sidebars look like a spiral field notebook.

Don’t be afraid to pick this book up even if your child has read numerous books about sea animals. As much as I love scientific programming and reading, I still learned a lot. The endpapers, the pages inside the front and back cover, include maps that show young readers where in the world these various animals live.

This book is a must read for any young ocean enthusiast or animal lover.  Share it with your classroom for a jumping off point when discussing ecological diversity and ecosystems. For more information on this topic, flip to the back of the book where the author and illustrator both share books they used in their research.  There are also additional titles listed for young readers.

Science lovers and sea shell lovers alike will want to read this book.


August 8, 2019

There’s a Dragon in Your Book by Tom Fletcher, illustrated by Greg Abbot

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 7:49 pm by suebe2

There’s a Dragon in Your Book
by Tom Fletcher
illustrated by Greg Abbot
Random House

“Oh, look!
There’s an egg in your book!
It looks ready to hatch.
Whatever you do, don’t turn the page….”

From this text on the first page, author Tom Fletcher invites young readers directly into this story of a hatching dragon egg and a little dragon who doesn’t quite have fire control down to an art.  From patting the book to flapping it like dragon wings, readers are directed to undertake certain action.

Greg Abbot’s illustrations bring this cute little dragon to life.  With rounded lines and big eyes, she is definitely cute and not scary.

Would this book make a good bedtime story?  I guess it depends just how hard you want to work to put an excited young reader to bed.  It is actually much more suitable as a read aloud but be prepared for roaring and flapping as your listeners join in the story.

This technique, with the narrator speaking directly to the reader, is called breaking the fourth wall.  The fourth wall is the invisible wall between the audience and the stage or the reader and the story inside the book.  Some young readers love these stories and because of this Abbot’s books are popular with active, wiggly kids who may have troubles sitting still during a story.

If this sounds familiar or you think you recognize the art work, you may have read There’s a Monster in Your Book. Fletcher is a song writer and popular You-Tuber with active kids of his own.   I suspect that my own son would have loved this as much as he loved No, David!  



August 6, 2019

Smile: How Young Charlie Chaplin Taught the World to Laugh (and Cry!) by Gary Golio, illustrated by Ed Young

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , at 4:07 pm by suebe2

How Young Charlie Chaplin Taught the World to Laugh (and Cry!) 
by Gary Golio
illustrated by Ed Young

How do you bring a silent movie star to life for young readers today?  Check out Smile and you will see!

Charlie Chaplin’s mother and father were both actors although his father had left.  Charlie lived with his mother and older brother Sydney.  But times were good because his mother was a talented actress and singer.  Charlie wore a velvet suit and his mother called him The King.

But when her singing voice gave out, she earned less and soon her money was gone.  Charlie picked up a few coins wherever he could, singing and dancing outside of pubs.

I don’t want to give a blow by blow recital of the book because you want to read it yourself.  Golio traces the development of Chaplin’s career and style.  He shows young readers without being preachy how laughter and tears are emotionally linked and how Chaplin adapted his character, the tramp, from a sad derilict of a man he had known growing up.  The emotions in this book will resonate with young readers.

Young’s mixed media collage compliments the story well and presents another duality.  He uses subdued tans and black in various textures, echoing the limited colorscape of Chaplin’s earliest films and the dull dreary world of poverty.  But throughout are clippings of color and pattern – a rich woman’s gown, a curtain at the theater, and brightly colored tumbling characters.  These characters echo the bright sparks of laughter that Chaplin’s clowning and pratfalls brought audiences.

Young artists will love reading about how Chaplin’s early life shapes and colors his performances and career.  Older fans of Chaplin’s work will be pulled into a book that shows them a different side of his character.  Check it out and share it with someone today!


August 2, 2019

A Penguin Named Patience: A Hurrican Katrina Rescue Story, by Suzanne Lewis, illustrated by Lisa Anchin

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 1:00 am by suebe2

A Penguin Named Patience:
A Hurrican Katrina Rescue Story
by Suzanne Lewis,
illustrated by Lisa Anchin
Sleeping Bear Press

Patience was an African penguin so she was used to warmer weather than many of her penguin kin. But it was too hot and muggy at the Audubon Aquarium in New Orleans.  That’s because the power was out because of Hurricane Katrina. The power was out and it was getting dangerously hot for the penguins.

Patience is having troubles being patient when their keeper, Tom, finally shows up.  He tells them that he is working on moving them but he doesn’t know where.  When the Monterey Bay Aquarium agrees to take them in, he loads all nineteen penguins into carriers and takes them to the airport.

Tom sees them to their temporary home where the penguins settle in and enjoy the cool water. It was nine months before the penguins could be returned to their New Orleans home.

This is a true story so it is shelved in nonfiction.  That said, the reader also sees things through Patience’s perspective and reads her thoughts.  Thus the penguins have been anthropomorphized although the story is real.

An author’s note at the back of the book expands on the story.  Here Lewis explains that, in spite of the dedicated efforts of the staff, not all of the animals that lived at the aquarium could be saved. This information might be too harsh for some younger readers but tucked back in the author’s note it isn’t part of the main story.

Lisa Anchin’s illustrations continue to anthropomorphize Patience and her fellow penguins, giving them facial expressions to help readers interpret their emotions.  The soft colors show the penguins and their world clearly while keeping the turmoil at a bit of a distance, essential for some sensitive young readers.  This story illustrates the great lengths that zoos and their staff go to for the animals in their care.


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