Hope your summer has been relaxing and enjoyable. Can’t believe kids’ school starts in less than three weeks. In light of that I will be reviewing fiction and non-fiction books this month that can be used in classrooms. Enjoy!
Opening Lines: Drip. Sip. Pour me a cup. Water is water unless… it heats up. Whirl. Swirl. Watch it curl by. Steam is steam unless… it cools high.
Synopsis (from Amazon’s website):
This spare, poetic picture book follows a group of kids as they move through all the different phases of the water cycle. From rain to fog to snow to mist, talented author Miranda Paul and the always remarkable Jason Chin (Redwoods, Coral Reefs, Island, Gravity) combine to create a beautiful and informative journey in this innovative nonfiction picture book that will leave you thirsty for more.
The Classroom Bookshelf – Lessons on written responses, visual narratives, finding rhymes, the hydrologic cycle, drama, and more are available for grades PreK-5.
Why I Like It:
I love this book for oh so many reasons. This is a MUST HAVE for any home or school library. I predict this book will become a mainstay. Here are my reasons why.
It’s creative non-fiction book about the water cycle!!
And it’s in rhyme with great page-turns. Picture book writers pay attention, the “unless …” is a great cliff-hanger to get the reader to turn the page.
The watercolor and gouche illustrations are gorgeous and beautifully capture the wholesome and simplicity of kids playing outdoors. (see more inside pages here) The art reminds me of growing up in rural Pennsylvania. I can almost smell the fresh air of spring or the icy chill of winter as I look at the illustrations.
Aurally pleasing rhyme with kid engaging visuals – a perfect combination to enrapture young minds.
Extensive backmatter to complement lesson plans on the water cycle.
Last week I reviewed the hilarious new book I’M MY OWN DOG. Checkout the review and don’t forget to enter the giveaway! Today I am excited to share my interview with David Ezra Stein. The first book we read in our house by him was INTERRUPTING CHICKEN which was a constant request by my toddlers at that time. A few years ago I feel in love with his book BECAUSE AMELIA SMILED. I am constantly amazed my Mr. Stein’s talent in crafting engaging pictures books which are beautiful inside and out.
Q1) What aspects of childhood do you like to capture in your art and writing?
Hi Darshana! That is a lovely question. I guess I like to capture the storm of emotions that a kid feels every day. Frustration, elation, sadness. They all run so close to the surface for a child. Humor seems to come from these strong feelings. If you portray them in earnest, they can be hilarious. But that is not to say that they should be the butt of a joke, but rather, an example of a life lived to the fullest degree of passion. I like to create characters that CARE about something very much. It could be something that is not a big deal in the grownup world. But then, the grownup world has its fair share of trivia that one can get worked up about.
Q2) Who are your creative influences – in books, art, or any other media?
Oh, this is such a hard question. It’s kind of like: List the many, many foods that have ever nourished you. Anything that is strong, and funny, and touching, and colorful. So this includes textiles, Matisse, TV commercials, funny ‘80s movies, P.G. Wodehouse novels, Calvin & Hobbes comics, Tintin comics, Klaes Oldenburg sculptures, East African sculpture, Robert McCloskey, Uri Shulevitz, Sondheim, Gilbert & Sullivan—the list is different each time I write it!
Q3) As a beginning writer, I often hear write the story that drives you and not to worry about market trends. What advice do you have for beginning writers in finding that balance between what resonates with the writer and what is marketable?
Try to do something you’re fascinated by, or think is hilarious, or very scary, or whatever you are trying to evoke in the reader; try to come from that place yourself. What’s marketable is something people really want to read. And I think people want to see familiar things in a new way, and laugh. That’s what I try to do in my own work.
Q4) Your story “I’m My Own Dog” is so clever and witty. I love his personality. Can you tell us what inspired this independent character?
Thanks! He occurred to me as a voice in my head, speaking about himself. This is often how characters come to me. He told me the first few lines of the story: I’m my own dog. No one owns me, I own myself…. I was as attentive to this as possible, and tried to get it all down on paper as it was happening. Then I began the work of expanding him and his world. Anyway, I think he came from a desire to really master myself and my career. And to choose the way I respond to the challenges of life. That is true mastery, to me.
Q5) How is the dog handling his celebrity status? Is he begging for more stories?
Ha, ha! I have been knocking around a story where the man gets a cat as well. So far so good, but we’ll have to see if this book does quite well enough to warrant a sequel. It’s sort of up to the publisher.
David Ezra Steinis the creator of many award-winning picture books, including Interrupting Chicken, which was awarded a Caldecott Honor, Because Amelia Smiled, and Dinosaur Kisses. He lives with his family in Kew Gardens, New York. You can learn more about him at his website, or keep up with him on Facebook.
Opening Lines: “I’m my own dog. Nobody owns me. I own myself. I work like a dog all day. When I get home, I fetch my own slippers.”
Many dogs have human owners. Not this dog. He fetches his own slippers, curls up at his own feet, and gives himself a good scratch. But there is one spot, in the middle of his back, that he just can’t reach. So one day, he lets a human scratch it. And the poor little fella follows him home. What can the dog do but get a leash to lead the guy around with? Dog lovers of all ages will revel in the humorous role-reversal as this dog teaches his human all the skills he needs to be a faithful companion.
Check-out the Story-Hour Kit from Candlewick. Contains discussion questions, drawing exercise, and a connect the dots page. Pages 4,9, and 10.
Checkout this list of great kids books about dogs from Pragmatic Mom.
Why I Like This Book:
This is one HILARIOUS book about an overly independent dog getting a human for a pet. The two things that stole my heart about this book were the great hook and the amazing voice of the dog. This is a wonderful book to study how the text and art work for irony and humorous effect. One of my favorite spreads reads “And you always have to clean up after them”, while the art shows the dog licking up the spilled ice-cream on the ground. Priceless. In the scenes below, we see how the dog is training the human.
The dog’s attitude of “I can do it myself” will appeal to young kids, who long to control the happenings of their day and make their own decisions.
The artwork was created using a mix of watercolor, pen, and a hint of crayon. The looseness of watercolor is perfect for mimicking how kids paint – neither filling the space completely of running over the lines. I like how the shirt sleeve isn’t colored in all the way or the colors bleed over the outline.
Good book for preschoolers, story-time, and dog lovers.
Checkout my interview with the author, David Ezra Stein.
Giveaway: For a chance to win this book, leave a comment stating what name you would give the dog. Deadline to enter is Thursday, November 13th at 9pm PST.
Can’t believe summer is already over. Where did the time go? Maybe I can find a rift in the space-time continuum, to blast us back to the start of summer. Until I can find that anomaly, I have a new kindergarten book which I think you will love. I have also included my Top Ten Books for New Kindergarteners that I first posted last summer. Enjoy!
Synopsis (from Amazon):
This clever picture book will prepare young explorers to boldly go where they have never gone before: Planet Kindergarten. Suit up for a daring adventure as our hero navigates the unknown reaches and alien inhabitants of this strange new world. Hilarious and confidence-boosting, this exciting story will have new kindergarteners ready for liftoff!
Why I Like This Book:
I had not planned to fall in love with this book. I mean come on another “first day at kindergarten” book. Just stop by your favorite bookstore or library and the display shelves are filled with classic and modern back to school titles. Boy was I wrong.
This is a clever, fun, adventurous book for anyone of any age that loves outer space. So maybe that is the key for me, I loved outer space as a kid and still do. Kids will love the funny storytelling and the bright, bold pictures. Older readers and adults will love the hilarious wordplay and how the text plays off the art.
There are also some subtle jokes in there which I loved.
Take a look at how the author has described a bunch of high-energy kids not being able to sit still with a reference to gravity working differently here. Brilliant!
“I try to get used to the new atmosphere, but it’s not like home. For one thing, gravity works differently here. We have to try hard to stay in our seats. And our hands go up a lot.”
Some of my other favorite lines:
“We arrive at the base camp, then orbit while we look for a place to dock.” – What fun way to describe looking for a parking spot.
“We’re aliens from many galaxies on Planet Kindergarten.” — What an excellent way to describe diversity!
Aside from the clever wordplay which I could go on and on about, the book does cover the basic concerns of all new kindergarteners – saying good-bye to your parents, new classroom, experiences on the playground, return home, and of course excitement for the next day.
This is a far-out book, one which any space-loving cadet will have a blast with.
———————————- TOP 10 Books for New Kindergarteners
Below are a list of books that address many of the first-day concerns that both kids and adults might have. Some are funny, some are heartfelt, some have a bit of both. Enjoy!
Kindergarten Diary by Antoinette Portis
Follow Annabelle’s ups and downs of the first month of Kindergarten. Vibrant artwork and humorous text are sure to get any child excited.
Excerpt – Me and Zoe played at recess today. Zoe likes socks. She always wears something pink. She let me use her extra jump rope. It’s pink.
Is Your Buffalo Ready for Kindergarten by Audrey Vernick and Daniel Jennewein
A funny, engaging, clever take on the do’s and dont’s of kindergarten. Loved the immersion of the buffalo in the story from hoove-painting to no grazing at recess, layered with the messages of sharing, friendship, and respect.
Excerpt – Okay, maybe your buffalo can’t cut – yet! But maybe most kids aren’t the state animal of Oklahoma. Or pictured on old nickels. Everyone’s special in his or her own way. That’s the kind of thing you learn in kindergarten.
The Day My Mom Came to Kindergarten by Maureen Fergus and Mike Lowery
A laugh out loud sure to please any child in this role-reversal story where the patient understanding daughter guides her mom through a day of Kindergarten.
Excerpt – She was so excited that she completely forgot her manners and tried to BARGE in at the front of the line. “I’m sorry, Mom, but you need to go to the back of the line,” I said. “Otherwise, it wouldn’t be fair to the rest of us.”
Kindergarten Rocks! by Katie Davis
Dexter is ready for kindergarten and not scared at all, thanks to his big sister Jessie. But Dexter’s stuffed dog Rufus has about a bazillion worries. Dexter and Rufus both soon realize that kindergarten rocks.
Excerpt – When Jes went to kindergarten, she wasn’t big like she is now. “I was a shrimp like you. (Jessie)” She wrote like me. And she drew like me, too. Only not as good.
Mom, It’s My First Day of Kindergarten by Hyewon Yum
Witness the topsy-turvey emotions for parents and children about the first day of kindergarten. Changes in the art color and size help convey the emotions being felt by mother and son. A confidence builder for all who read it that everything will be a-okay.
Excerpt – Mom doesn’t look happy. “We don’t know anyone here. I miss your old teachers and your friends.(mom)” “I like to make new friends, Mom, and you’ll make new friends, too, in no time.(son)”
First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg and Judy Love
Kids will relate to Sarah’s nervousness about the first day at a new school, and they will love the surprise ending and in knowing that everyone gets the jitters.
Excerpt – “No, I’m not. I don’t want to start over again. I hate my new school,” Sarah said. She tunneled down to the end of her bed.
The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn, Ruth E. harper, and Nancy M. Leak
A classic heartwarming story about separation anxiety and the power of magical kisses.
Excerpt – Mrs. Raccoon took Chester by the hand and nuzzled him on the ear. “Sometimes we all have to do things we don’t want to do,” she told him gently. “Even if they seem strange and scary at first. But you will love school once you start.”
First Day of School by Anne Rockwell and Lizzy Rockwell
Follow along as a group of friends recap how they’ve grown and get ready for the first day of school. A fun book for all kids, great way to start a discussion about your family’s back-to-school rituals.
Excerpt – Michiko jumped down when she saw us. “I’ve got new bouncy shoes!” Michiko said. “My shoes were too small. Now I can wiggle my toes.”
The Best Thing About Kindergarten by Jennifer Lloyd and Qin Leng
On kindergarten graduation day, Mrs. Appleby has one last final question “What is the best thing about kindergarten?” Her students have different answers ranging from calendar time, imagination time, to recess. But readers will keep flipping the pages to find Mrs. Appleby’s secret special answer.
Excerpt – “It’s calendar time!” cried Tabitha. “You are so good at saying the days of the week,” replied Mrs. Appleby, “but calendar time is not the best thing about kindergarten.”
Kindergarten, Here I Come by D.J. Steinberg and Mark Chambers
Through rhyming verses, experience kindergarten milestones such as first day jitters, field trips, friendships, show-n-tell and much more. Kids will enjoy the silly verses and lively illustrations.
Excerpt – Crisscross Applesauce – Crisscross applesauce, that’s the way we sit. Not feet-out sauerkraut. Not cottage cheese on your knees. Not bottoms-up coffee cup. Not blueberry jelly on your belly. But crisscross applesauce, that’s the way we sit.
Yesterday I reviewed the heart-warming Penguin series. Today I am so excited to share my interview with Salina Yoon. I met Salina through the Verla Kay Blueboards (now SCBWI boards) where she is an active member. She has a generous, caring spirit which comes shining through in her Penguin books. She is a “prolific” author/illustrator and has published over 200 books!! She has 6 new books coming out in the next two years. She got her start in novelty/board books and has recently branched out into character-drive picture books with great success.
What aspects of childhood do you like to capture in your art and writing?
I like to capture the innocence of childhood, when anything and everything can be your friend. A child has an innate love for things and a need to connect, even if they are inanimate. Children see the preciousness of things we grown-ups sometimes overlook… and I bring this character to life through Penguin.
Who are your creative influences – in books, art, or any other media?
Eric Carle, Gyo Fujikawa, and Dr. Seuss were my earliest creative influences even though I don’t illustrate like any of them! Each are completely unique: Carle’s is graphic and minimalistic, Fujikawa’s is soft and rendered, and Dr. Seuss is wild and imaginative! It made me realize that a story can be delivered in many ways. I love to play around with art style from one book to the next (unless it’s a series). I could name dozens more books that are completely unique—and collectively, they are my influence, and remind me that each book can have its own character, style, and delivery. But specifically, Hervé Tullet inspired my own Tap to Play, the art of Charley Harper influenced the artwork in Kaleidoscope and Pinwheel. I also LOVE the art of Jon Klassen, Laura Vaccaro Seeger, and Antoinette Portis. Groundbreakers—these talented people!
(Note: Pinwheel is unavailable currently, but is scheduled to be reprinted, and will be available again later this year/2014 due to early sell-out in 2013)
For Penguin’s art, though, it came internally from my childhood self. I wanted to draw Penguin in a way a child would. But at the time, I was illustrating all of my books with a mouse. This made it difficult to draw organically. So I purchased a Wacom tablet to allow myself to draw with a pen tool. Since I wasn’t familiar how to draw with this tool and tablet, my drawings were somewhat child-like. I decided to keep that “style” and it worked for Penguin.
What advice would you give to beginning authors and illustrators?
Make it your goal to CREATE, write, and grow, . . . and not to publish. Keep your eye on the ball… and that ball is to write or illustrate,… and publishing will follow!
Initially you were focused on novelty books and jumped into character-driven picture books with the Penguin series (which I love). Do you have any writing/illustrating goals that you would still like to accomplish?
Thank you (for loving Penguin!) I’ve enjoyed creating each and every one of my novelty books, but when I wrote Penguin, I was ready for a new challenge, and JUMP, I did! Since Penguin’s first book in 2012, I will have 9 character-driven picture books published by 2016 (so far)! There’s so many more I’d like to do, but I also aspire to write and illustrate for the early reader or even possibly the early chapter book market!
What were the seeds of inspiration for Penguin and Pinecone?
My first son was always very curious. As a toddler, he’d examine things very closely– like a fallen leaf on the ground. When he turned 4 or 5, he loved to collect things—like rocks, leaves, shells, and pine cones. He was very particular about the things he collected, and from his collections, there was always one that stood out. He’d take it, place it in a box, and ask for me to make it a blanket. A piece of fleece or napkin was enough. He didn’t ask for goggly eyes to attach to it or change it in any way. The way it was was simply enough. He’d name it… usually the name of the object, plus a “y” at the end. A rock became “Rocky,” a shell became “Shelly,” and so on. This sweet, nurturing spirit inspired Penguin’s character, though I didn’t know it at the time. It stayed with me, and when Penguin was born, I realized later that my son had inspired him!
What future adventures are in-store for Penguin?
Penguin is seeking to experience one of our favorite seasons—FALL—in his next adventure. And this time, he’s not traveling alone! Look for Penguin’s fourth book, Penguin and Pumpkin, in July 2014! This one focuses on the relationship of siblings. If you have a child with a younger sibling, this might be a sweet book to share.
******************************************* Now some rapid fire questions for Penguin.
Who is your best friend?
I have made many best friends through my adventures! But among them, I have to say that Pinecone, Crab, and Bootsy are my very best of friends! (Learn how this happened in PENGUIN AND PINECONE, PENGUIN ON VACATION, and PENGUIN IN LOVE)
What is your snack of choice?
Fishies from the ocean, and marshmallows.
What is your favorite vacation spot?
The beach—where I met Crab.
If you weren’t a penguin what animal would you like to be?
It would be fun to be a boy dressed up in a wolf suit so I could cause mischief! That counts as an animal, right? I never cause mischief in real life.
Is Ms. Yoon a penguin-driver or laid back?
She works very hard, but I get to do whatever I want… like bake.
Can you share with us your favorite selfie?
I like this picture because I am holding my own book!
Be sure to check-out Salina’s upcoming books.
FOUND (Walker Books for Young Readers), April 1, 2014
Penguin and Pumpkin (Walker Books for Young Readers), July 29, 2014
Tap to Play, (HarperCollins), Oct 7, 2014
Forthcoming in 2015-2016
Two additional Bear picture books, and one more Penguin book (untitled) with Walker Books for Young Readers
I also recommend checking out these other fabulous interviews with Salina.
Welcome! It is my pleasure to review a wonderful series about a warm-hearted penguin from the super-talented picture book author/illustrator Salina Yoon. Also check-out my interview with Salina and Penguin!!
The Penguin picture book series involves a cute little penguin that embarks on adventures and experiences new places through the lens of a young child. All of the books have an underlying theme of love and friendship which will be appealing to readers of all ages. The digital illustrations are simple, colorful, child-like and perfect for storytime.
In the first book Penguin and a Pinecone, Penguin finds a pinecone and they become best friends. Penguin knits it a scarf, takes it sledding, and then becomes worried when pinecone sneezes. Penguin then sets off on a journey to take Pinecone home to the forest, where it can go big and strong. Penguin gets Pinecone settled in his new home and while he returns his ice home. After waiting and wondering about his friend, Penguin returns to the forest and finds Pinecone has “grown” from Penguin’s love.
Penguin shows the same love and concern for pinecone that young children show for their favorite stuffed animal or doll. He also has the same worries as kids do about being apart from someone who they love. What is truly amazing is the number of emotions (curiosity, concern, worry, happiness) and themes (friendship, love, loyalty) conveyed with such little text, only 212 words.
In Penguin on Vacation, Penguin decides he is tired of snow . “Snow again?” (I’m sure those of you on the East Coast can relate to that.) Skiing, sledding, and skating vacations just don’t cut it anymore. He sees a cruise ship in the distance and decides to go to the beach! Penguin packs a suitcase and a beach ball and sets off. Despite bigger and bigger waves he persists. Upon reaching the beach Penguin realizes he can’t do the same things here as he did on ice. But with the help of a friendly Crab, Penguin learns how to have fun in the sun. But when Penguin leaves to go home he finds a stowaway, his new friend Crab who says “I need a vacation too!” The two enjoy winter activities before Crab has to leave.
Penguin show curiosity and gumption in this tale of visiting a new place. I love how Penguin thought he could do his winter activities at the beach. The tale resonates a theme that I think kids already know and that adults sometimes forget, “you can have fun anywhere as long as you are with friends.”
In the newest title, Penguin in Love, Penguin is looking for love but he finds a purple mitten. Penguin tries to find the owner who loves knitting as much as he does, but no luck. He then makes a bill cozy for a puffin. The grateful puffin hatches a plan to bring the two knitting penguins together. Penguin and his friend Bootsy go on a journey to unravel the mystery of their missing yarn only to realize what they have been looking for all along was right under their beaks.
I love that the acts of kindness in this book, where Penguin gives the puffin a cozy for his cold beak and in turn puffin sets off to help Penguin find love.
Welcome to the August 2013 Carnival of Children’s Literature! A big thanks to all the kidlit experts that contributed to this month’s carnival. Hope you enjoy reading the wonderful collection of posts. Be sure to check-in at next month’s carnival at Stacking Books.
Summer travels may be over but exploring new countries doesn’t have to.
Reshama at Stacking Books reviews Dodsworth in Tokyo, the latest in the early readers series about two travelers about Dodsworth and his accident prone pet duck. She says “We loved this series because each book takes us to a new city and a new adventure.” Previous travels include New York, Paris, and Rome.
Want to learn about Australia mammals and read in that Aussie voice? Check-out Susan from The Book Chook‘s round-up of Australian themed posts. Learn about wombats, koalas, possums … and find out what a mozzie is.
Next we have two books for kids getting back to school and learning.
Erik from Kid Books Rating recommends Maisy’s First Clock. He says it’s “for any parents looking to teach their kids how to tell time on a traditional clock, this is a good start …” The book has movable hands too!
Catherine from The Cath in the Hat reviews Joe and Sparky Go to School. She says “with kids schlepping on their backpacks and heading back to school, this beginning reader is sure to ease their load and put a smile on their face.”
Esther, blogger from Teaching Authors, discuss her inspiration for TXTING MAMA TXTING BABY and shares the latest research on the effects of texting on literacy and writing, as well as information on the “touch-screen generation.”
Here at Flowering Minds, I reviewed Chick-o-Saurus Rex. A book with heart and comical, colorful illustrations sure to delight any child who thinks he isn’t big enough to be strong and brave.
Zoe from Playing By the Book has a fun interview with mother-daughter/author-illustrator team Shirley Hughes and Claire Vulliamy on the launch of their new series for independent readers ages 6-8. Dixie O-Day: In the Fast Lane is the first book.
Brenda from proseandkahn reviews MG novel Texting the Underworld, a story involving a banshee and a scaredy cat middle-school aged boy, Conner. Brenda says it is a book that will make you laugh and cry at the same time. The book weaves in death mythology of a variety of cultures, as well as Irish myth/ folklore.
Alex from Randomly Reading reviews Nasreddine, a retelling of an old Turkish folktale with a moral that still holds true in today’s world.
Margo from The Fourth Musketeer reviews Flora & Ulysses which she calls a “genre-busting story” about a lonely 10yr girl named Flora, a squirrel, and the neighbor’s vacuum cleaner named Ulysses. Seems like an eclectic bunch of characters and I cannot wait to read it and see how Newberry Award winner Kate DiCamillo weaves it all together. Margo also reviews Elvis and the Underdogs a hilarious story about Benji and his therapy dog, Elvis, whose whines and barks sound like English. She recommends the book for middle-grader readers and as a read-aloud.
Lisa from Shelf-Employed reviews the audiobook version of Three Times Lucky, a 2013 Newberry Honor Award Book. She says “despite some heavy-hitting themes, this modern-day, first person narrative is not contemporary realistic fiction, but rather a delightfully funny, quirky murder mystery, andthe story of a loving family, best friends, and a close-knit community. And oh yes, there’s a hurricane.” Sounds like a thrill-ride of a story. She also has a link to an audio excerpt of the book. Good for ages 10 and up.
Becky from Tapestry of Words has a review by a 5th grader on his favorite book The Million Dollar Throw.
Natalie from Biblio Links has an interview with author Ammi-Joan Paquette, who shares ways that her new sci-fi young adult novel, Paradox, can be used with kids by teachers and librarians.
LH Johnson from did you ever stop to think and forget again? read several pieces discussing the nature of female characters in children’s literature, and discovered the startling truth about Anne from Enid Blyton’s Famous Five.
Jeanne from True Tales & a Cherry On Top reviews Write on, Mercy!. Jeanne writes this is “picture book biography of a female writer, Mercy Otis Warren who lived during the American colonial times. It wasn’t until Mercy was older that her literary life became known, with the publication of her three-volume history of the American Revolution.”
Anastasia from Booktalking says Stripes of All Types is a book that combines science and poetry!
Melissa from Here in the Bonny Glen while reading a series of Esquire posts on the Battle of Gettysburg found a surprising reference to her favorite Maud Hart Lovelace book Emily of Deep Valley.
Publisher: Dial Books, 1995 Book Type: Fiction Ages: 4-8 Themes: Bravery, Perseverance, Jungle Animals, India
Excerpt: The Name Day Celebration was only one week away. “My name shall be Bahadur Shikari – Mighty Hunger,” declared Number One, scouting the veranda for mice. “I’ll choose Rang Birange Kapare – Calico Colors,” added Number Two as she sat grooming her long fur. …. “And you, Number Four,” asked Two, turning to the small gray kitten who had finally pulled his head from beneath the pillow “What will your name be? Smallest of All?”
Synopsis (from Amazon Website):
As the Name Day celebration approaches, a young kitten tries to deserve a noble name, by following the path of the beautiful Bengal tiger.
Why I Like This Book:
A tale of a small cat who proves that he can be something more than what he appears. The authentic text and vibrant illustrations transport the reader in time to the jungles of colonial India.
Number Four is a meek, small grey cat who yearns to be mighty and courageous, and have such a name. With Naming Day only a week away, Four sets out on a daring journey to learn how from the “Magnificent One”, a Bengal tiger. Four is not dissuaded in his quest by the jungle creatures who mock him. He doesn’t cower against the snarling tiger. Four remains persistent and follows the tiger for days and nights, learning how to survive. He saves the tiger’s life during a hunt thereby earning a powerful and wise name, Bangali Sher Ka Dil – Heart of the Tiger.
The illustrations done in watercolor and pencil are rich and bold, bringing to life the hot, humid jungle teaming with wildlife. Henterley has done a splendid job of conveying a range of emotions from the pensive Four looking into the rain puddle, to Four being startled via a close-up shot of the snarling tiger, to the tiger hunt scene showing just the tiger and Number 4 with the background a blur.
I enjoyed this book for its text and rich imagery with a great message that “you can be more than what you appear”. I loved seeing the inner strength of the cat revealed via each of the obstacles culminating with Four using his wisdom during the tiger hunt. The author uses accurate words to describe the colonial time period and jungle setting: master, veranda, langur (monkey), and beaters (men who play the drums during a tiger hunt). The Hindi names chosen have an accurate meaning too. I love this last scene with Four in front on Naming Day with all the jungle animals in the background. Read this book and be transported to old-world India.
Below are some photographs of tiger hunts. These are from the Bangalore Palace in southern India.
Last month was my 40th Birthday and I celebrated by doing 40 Random Acts of Kindness (RAK). I was inspired by reading a post by a mom that had celebrated her birthday by doing 35 acts of kindness with her kids. This was a challenging but fulfilling experience. One of the unexpected benefits was I became a better listener and more aware of people’s needs as I searched for the next unique RAK I could do. While I don’t think I am one of those people who can do a RAK every day yet, I look forward to doing more kindness acts in the future.
Highlights from this experience:
Having my girls help me with the acts of kindness. My 6yr old holding me accountable, by asking me what my RAK count was every day.
Several folks telling me they were inspired to do Random Acts of Kindness
Brainstorming RAK ideas with friends
Seeing kids using some of the items left (toys, books)
Making someone’s day with a RAK
If you would like to learn more about the kindness movement checkout the website Random Acts of Kindness. When coming up with my RAKs I referenced the following two posts, What a Ride!: My Birthday was Awesome and 366 Random Acts of Kindness, and adapted the ideas to what worked for me. The first post had a list of simple ideas that can involve kids; the second post had a lot of charity organizations. For my 40 RAKs I wanted to thank the people around me as well as do random acts for people I didn’t know. My belief was everybody can use an act of kindness.
Here is my list of 40 RAKs. Enjoy!
#1 – Paid the bill for a father of two girls that was standing behind me at the LEGO store.
#2 – Left fancy chocolates, cookies in the company break room
#3 – Surprised my Pilates instructor with a cup of coffee
#4 – Gave a homeless person a $5 gift card to McDonald’s
#5 – Gave the librarians at our local library a box of chocolates. They are always so patient and helpful as I always have a ton of books on hold under three different library cards, across three different loan systems. It can be quite complicated sometimes.
#6 – Brought donuts for my co-workers. Normally one of the managers brings donuts every Friday, so it was fun confusing my colleagues as I brought the donuts on a Thursday.
#7 – Box of chocolates for the children’s librarians at another local library
#8 – Left a Large tip tonight during my birthday dinner.
#9 – Box of chocolates for the staff at my kids’ gymnastics club
#10 – Treated my girlfriends to dinner.
#11 – Wrote a gratitude letter to my baa (maternal grandmother) with the help of my mom. This act of kindness also made my mom happy too, bonus.
#12 – Wrote a gratitude/get well card to my Aunt.
#14 – Donated some toys to my Mother’s Helper. She redistributes them to other kids that she cares for.
#15 – Left some current magazines for others to read at the gym.
#16 – Gave each of the members in my writing group a book on writing great characters.
#17 – Donated a $5 McDonald’s gift card to a person in need.
#18 – Pushed the swing of a 4yr old at the park and ended up making a new acquaintance with the mom.
#19 – Gave chocolates to our pediatrician’s office and donated some books.
#20 – Gave activity packs, books, and DVDs to the children’s ward at the local hospital. This was a lot of fun, as the kids came up with the painting sheets idea.
#21 – Donated old coats, DVDs, and books to the family homeless shelter.
#22 – Sent words of encouragement to a new mom that was going back to work.
#23 – Gave a friend a voucher for a free ski lift ticket
#24 – Paid the bill for the person behind me at the drive-thru
#25 – Watched a movie tonight with my girls instead of doing my own stuff (clean the house, surf the net, etc).
#26 – Hid scratcher lottery tickets in two books at a book sale
#27 – Paid the parking meter for some people
#28 – Gave scratcher lottery tickets to the workers at Subway
#29 – Gave a homeless man a $5 gift card to McDonald’s.
#30 – Left jump ropes and hula-hoops at the park for kids to enjoy.
#31 – Gave out scratcher lottery tickets to the service staff at work
#32 – At Target gave a re-usable bag to the person behind me since she didn’t have one. The retailers no longer give out plastic bags as our city has a ban on them.
#33 – Corralled some lost shopping carts.
#34 – Gave a small thank you gift to a co-worker for helping me out with some customer debug issues.
#35 – Donated some clothing for local foster kids. For those of you living in California, Sleep Train is currently running a Pajama Drive til March 3rd. Just drop of new PJ’s, underwear, or socks and they will be distributed to foster kids in your local community.
#36 – Left coins at the vending machine
#37 – Gave the neighbors some homemade Texas chili
#38 – Started a mini-library at my kids’ gymnastic center
#40 – A BIG thanks to all my family and friends for their in-person and on-line continuous steady stream of likes and positive, uplifting comments. Coming up with nearly 40 unique RAKs was a bit hard, but having you all by my side made it easier.
It’s Perfect Picture Book Friday (PPBF) again. This week you will get not one but TWO in-depth reviews for this week’s pick GANESHA’S SWEET TOOTH. So why two reviews this week, you ask? Upon receiving this book from the publisher, I was completely speechless regarding the unique illustrations, I did not have a clue as to how to describe the beautiful artwork. Luckily, I know the awesome Carter Higgins who runs an awesome blog, Design of the Picture Book, where she discusses everything related to illustrations; I roped her in to doing a joint review. After you read today’s post, hop on over to Carter’s blog for the rest of the review.
I would also like to thank Julie from World of Julie for this book recommendation. Thanks!
Excerpt: “I look lopsided!” he said. “Everyone will laugh at me.” “No, they won’t,” said Mr. Moue. “Everyone loses their teeth. And besides, you already have an elephant’s head and your friends still love you.”
Synopsis (from Chronicle Books Website):
The bold, bright colors of India leap right off the page in this fresh and funny picture book adaptation of how Ganesha came to write the epic poem of Hindu literature, the Mahabharata. Ganesha is just like any other kid, except that he has the head of an elephant and rides around on a magical mouse. And he loves sweets, especially the traditional dessert laddoo. But when Ganesha insists on biting into a super jumbo jawbreaker laddoo, his tusk breaks off! Ganesha is terribly upset, but with the help of the wise poet Vyasa, he learns that what seems broken can actually be quite useful after all. With vibrant, graphic illustrations, expressive characters, and offbeat humor, this is a wonderfully inventive twist on a classic tale.
Recipe for making laddoos.
Ganesha coloring pages.
Online links on Ganesha and Hinduism for Kids
Brief Background on Lord Ganesha:
Lord Ganesha is one of the most worshipped gods by Hindus, since he is the remover of obstacles. He was given this task by the deities to help the people on Earth, hence he is kind of like the people’s God. Hindus say prayers to Lord Ganesha before important events such as weddings, starting a new planting season, or opening a store. People will give the god offerings such as Indian sweets, fruit, and nuts.
Why I Like This Book:
A colorful, modern, humorous, loose-retelling of how Ganesha broke his tusk. This book is full of kid-appeal that can serve has a good first introduction to the elephant god.
I find traditional retellings of Hindu mythology or folktales to be strong in the action and morality aspects but very dry when it comes to character, and somewhat un-relatable. It if for this reason that I love this modern take of Ganesha, even with its deviations from the actual story.
Ganesha is cute and like an ordinary Indian boy. He plays cricket (British sport like baseball), dances, rings temple bells, and cruises around on his mouse (which reminded me of skateboarding). A child character is not complete without discussing his favorite sweet; for Ganesha it’s the laddoo. I love the idea of the “Jawbreaker Laddoo”; I think it is hilarious, especially since it comes out of a gumball machine. Genius! (fyi – a real laddoo would fall apart if it came out of machine) And when Ganesha breaks his tusk, I like that he tries to re-attach it with tape. Vyasa the poet helps Ganesha learn how he his broken tusk can still be useful. Ganesha does assist Vyasa by writing down the epic Hindu story, the Mahabharata. (this part is true) I like the off-beat humor of Mr. Mouse acting as Ganesha’s lawyer.
This book would work well for storytime, it provides a first glimpse into Hindu mythology for young kids. For classroom settings, I would recommend supplementing this book with other traditional retellings.