Planet Kindergarten and other Books for New Kindergarteners

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!

Planet Kindergarten
Title: Planet Kindergarten
Author: Sue Ganz-Schmitt
Illustrator: Shane Prigmore
Publisher: Chronicle Books, 2014
Book Type: Fiction
Ages: 4-8
Themes: School, Space

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.”

classroom

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.

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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!

Kindergartener List

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.

Kindergarten Diary

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.

Buffalo Ready for 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.”

The Day My Mom Came To Kindergarten
 
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.

Kindergarten Rocks

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)”

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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.

First-Day-Jitters

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.”

Kissing Hand

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.”

First Day of School

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.”

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.

Kindergarten, Here I Come

Interview with Salina Yoon and Penguin

Salina.Yoon.photo2Yesterday 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!

 

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(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.

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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.
PoVsample4

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.

wolf_small

Is Ms. Yoon a penguin-driver or laid back? 
She works very hard, but I get to do whatever I want… like bake.

baking_small

Can you share with us your favorite selfie?

selfie_small

I like this picture because I am holding my own book!

Where can we can we follow you and Ms. Yoon?
You can follow me on my blog: www.penguinandpinecone.com
or my FB page: https://www.facebook.com/penguinandpinecone
and you can follow my Mama, Salina Yoon, on her FB page: https://www.facebook.com/salina.yoon.7
or learn more about her on her website: www.salinayoon.com

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

SY PB strip 2
I also recommend checking out these other fabulous interviews with Salina.

Penguin Series by Salina Yoon

penguinseries

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.

penguin-and-pinecone
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.
penguin vacation

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.”

penguin beach

 

penguin loveIn 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.

August Carnival of Children’s Literature

carnival_logo

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.

Early Literacy

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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.”

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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.

Kerry from Picture Books & Pirouettes provides a list of her latest round-up of dance and movement themed books.

Fiction

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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, and the 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.

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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.

Non-Fiction

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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.

Heart of a Tiger

Heart of a TigerTitle: Heart of a Tiger

AuthorMarsha Diane Arnold
Illustrator: Jamichael Henterly

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.

Activities:
Discussion guide on Naming ceremony, Indian culture, and even a tiger quiz from the author.
Tiger Crafts – simple paper crafts, origami, balloon animal
Basic info and photographs of Bengal tigers at National Geographic for Kids.
Learn more about tiger hunts and naming ceremony on Wikipedia.

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.

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Below are some photographs of tiger hunts. These are from the Bangalore Palace in southern India.

 

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Check-out these other great reviews.

40 Random Acts of Kindness in 40 Days for my Big 4-0

Random-Acts-of-KindnessLast 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

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#10 – Treated my girlfriends to dinner.party
#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.doctors
#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.

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#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

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#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.park
#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.

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#36 – Left coins at the vending machine
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#37 – Gave the neighbors some homemade Texas chili

#38 – Started a mini-library at my kids’ gymnastic center

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#39 – Made two micro-loans via KIVA

#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.

Ganesha’s Sweet Tooth

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!

Title: Ganesha’s Sweet Tooth
Authors: Sanjay Patel & Emily Haynes
Illustrator: Sanjay Patel
Publisher: Chronicle Books, 2012
Book Type: Fiction
Ages: 4-8
Themes: Hindu Mythology

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.

Activities:
Recipe for making laddoos.
Ganesha coloring pages.
Online links on Ganesha and Hinduism for Kids

Traditional re-tellings of Ganesha.

Other books my Sanjay Patel on Hindu Mythology

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.

For an in-depth look at the gorgeous illustrations that just “pop”, please head over to Design of the Picture Book.

Find Ganesha’s Sweet Tooth at the following spots:
Kitaab WorldAmazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Goodreads
ISBN-10: 1452103623
ISBN-13: 978-1452103624

This review is part of Susana Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book series. Visit her site to see the other books recommended.

Disclosure: I received my copy of Ganesha’s Sweet Tooth from the publisher Chronicle Books. This review nevertheless reflects my own and honest opinion about the book.

Looking at Lincoln

Title: Looking at Lincoln
Author & Illustrator: Maira Kalman
Check out the interview (Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast)
Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books, 2012
Book Type: Non-Fiction
Ages: 5-10
Themes: Presidents, Civil War, American History

Synopsis (from Amazon website):
Abraham Lincoln is one of the first giants of history children are introduced to, and now Maira Kalman brings him to life with her trademark style and enthusiasm. Lincoln’s legacy is everywhere – there he is on your penny and five-dollar bill. And we are still the United States because Lincoln helped hold them together.

But who was he, really? The little girl in this book wants to find out. Among the many other things, she discovers our sixteenth president was a man who believed in freedom for all, had a dog named Fido, loved Mozart, apples, and his wife’s vanilla cake, and kept his notes in his hat. From his boyhood in a log cabin to his famous presidency and untimely death, Kalman shares Lincoln’s remarkable life with young readers in a fresh and exciting way.

Activities:
This book was based off an on-line tribute that Maira Kalman authored and illustrated for the New York Time in 2009. I highly recommend checking out.
ProTeacher! website contains links to for various Abraham Lincoln classroom activities: crossword puzzles, lesson plans, reading list, etc.
PBS documentary series “Abraham and Mary Lincoln: A House Divided” may be interesting for older students and adults. I just found out about it, looks interesting.

Why I Like This Book:
Beautiful tribute with a contemporary voice and bright, bold colored gouche illustrations that will hook any reader young or old. This is not your typical picture book biography.

The story reads as if you are listening to a friend tell you about her day

“One day, while walking through the park on my way to breakfast I saw a very tall man. He reminded me of someone, but I could not think who … And then I remembered. The man I had seen looked exactly like Abraham Lincoln.”

The author doesn’t just spew out a lot of facts but also theorizes about Lincoln’s thoughts, reminding readers that our 16th president was just an ordinary person too.

“What was he thinking about? He was thinking about democracy … And maybe he was also thinking about getting a birthday present for his little son.  Maybe a whistle. Or pickup sticks.”

Text which are the narrator’s thoughts are in a different font from the factual information.

The highlights of this book are the illustrations. Especially the final few pages. The spread about the assassination, with the pistol on the left with the empty rocking chair and fallen top hat on the right made me pause for a bit. Equally moving in an uplifting way are the final two spreads letting readers know that Abraham Lincoln will live FOREVER.

The book also has Notes and Bibliography sources at the end.

I loved this book, except for one topic which really bothered me, regarding the reason the Northern and Southern states went to war. In a picture book format for young kids facts, thoughts, the truth will be bent sometimes as the topic maybe too complicated or not appropriate for young readers. Below is the text that concerns me:

It was a difficult time to be president.
The Southern states (the Confederacy) wanted
their own country where slavery was allowed.
Lincoln said no. We must stay one country.
The Northern states (the Union) believed
that slavery should be abolished.
And so they went to war.

While the text does reference the Southern states wanting to secede and the North (Lincoln) saying no. The text implies that the issue was slavery, which would be an oversimplification. Wouldn’t it be better to simply state that the Southern states wanted to create their own country without giving a reason, thereby leaving it up to the teacher/parent/librarian to answer the child’s question of why, or that the Southern states wanted state governments to have more power. Neither of these alternate choices are much better, but I still think that would be more accurate than to say the Civil War was fought over humanitarian reasons. What do you think?

This review is part of Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book series. Visit her site to see the other books recommended. PPBF is on hiatus for the summer, however I will still continue to post book reviews. I may try different formats and may try to squeeze in one or two MG novels. As a result I may not have a consistent posting schedule for the summer, but rest assured I am still very interested in telling you about great children’s books.

If you would like to stay current with what I am reading, click Goodreads and then click on “follow reviews” button to get my updates.

One Grain of Rice: A Mathematical Folktale

Title: One Grain of Rice: A Mathematical Folktale
Author & Illustrator: Demi
Check out the interview at Paper Tigers
Publisher: Scholastic Press, 1997
Book Type: Fiction
Ages: 5-10
Themes: Folklore, India, Social Responsibility, Math, Cleverness

Synopsis (from book jacket flap):
Long ago in India, there lived a raja who believed that he was wise and fair. But every year he kept nearly all of the people’s rice for himself. Then when famine came, the raja refused to share the rice, and the people went hungry. Then a village girl named Rani devises a clever plan. She does a good deed for the raja, and in return, the raja lets her choose her reward. Rani asks for just one grain of rice, doubled every day for thirty days. Through the surprising power of doubling, one grain of rice grows into more than one billion grains of rice — and Rani teaches the raja a lesson about what it truly means to be wise and fair.
Activities:
Math Focus:

  • Comprehensive lesson plan for older elementary aged students, focusing on math. Elements from this lesson plan could be used for younger grades such as the activity chart to keep track of the rice.
  • Additional math focused lesson plan.
  • Mathwire – has other picture book recommendations similar to One Grain of Rice and lesson plans.

Indian Culture Focus:

Why I Like This Book:
This is a multi-layered story that teaches math, introduces Indian culture, and has a great moral story. I especially loved that the village girl outsmarted the raja using her intelligence, and distributed the rice not only to the villagers but to the nearby animals as well. The story can also be used to discuss social responsibility by discussing the raja’s role during the famine.

The first half of the story introduces the  raja and his relationship with the villagers. The reader watches the demise of the raja’s morals as he becomes selfish during the famine. Rani is clever in asking for just 1 grain of rice on the first day, 2 grains on the second day, 4 grains on the third day, and so on. Rani requested she receive double the amount of rice from the day before for 30 days. The second half of the book is about the math. In the beginning the grains of rice can fit in a small pouch, which becomes 1 heavy bag, to later requiring 8 royal deer to carry the rice bags, culminating on the final day with 256 elephants full of rice bags.The endpage contains  a chart showing exactly how much rice Rani received each day.

I normally think today’s kids aren’t interested in folktales, I was wrong. Apparently, my 6-year old had already heard this story in her pre-school and KG classrooms. When she saw it in my tote bag she ran to me with this and another Demi book, The Empty Pot (also really great, a tale of honesty) telling me how she loved both books and couldn’t wait to read them to me. I was pleasantly surprised. I asked my daughter what she liked most and it was the math – seeing the rice go from 1 grain to hundreds of thousands. She especially enjoyed the the fold out flaps needed to depict the 256 elephants on the last day.
Find One Grain of Rice at the following spots:

Kitaab WorldAmazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Goodreads
ISBN-10: 059093998X
ISBN-13: 978-0590939980

This review is part of Susana Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book series. Visit her site to see the other books recommended.

Too Shy for Show and Tell

Title: Too Shy for Show and Tell
Author: Beth Bracken
Illustrator: Jennifer Bell
Publisher: Picture Window Books, 2012
Book Type: Fiction
Ages: 3-6
Themes: Shyness, School

Excerpt:
“Sam was a quiet boy. Nobody knew much about him.
Sam loved trucks, but nobody knew that.”

Synopsis (from Capstone website):
Sam is a quiet little boy who hates show-and-tell. Just thinking about it makes his stomach hurt. Sam must find a way to conquer his fear of show-and-tell.

Activities:
Show and tell of course.
Games for shy kids for getting kids to interact in a non-competitive environment.
Shykids is a website that discusses shyness in kids/teens and resources on how to help.

Why I Like This Book:
Perfect book for young children. The basic plot surrounds Sam’s fear of public speaking, however there is a deeper underlying theme about opening up to people around you and friendship. In the opening scene, a sad Sam is keeping to himself not saying hi to anyone as he walks to school. Nobody knows anything about Sam or what he likes. In contrast the end scene, shows a happy Sam waving good-bye to his friends as he heads home.

The author effectively uses short, simple sentences to emotionally connect to Sam. The reader will immediately be able to feel Sam’s fears and concerns, and will cheer for Sam in the end. The illustrations are visually appealing with a soft sketch-like feel and the animals have a roundness to them. Both qualities bring a warm endearing quality to the cast of characters.

This book is part of Capstone’s Little Boost series, that look to tackle early life lessons in a funny relatable manner. Check out the other books.

This review is part of Susana Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book series. Visit her site to see the other books recommended.

Picture Book Details:
As an aspiring PB writer, I often analyze a book for its text and illustrations to learn from it. Here are some of the details I liked from this book:

– The opening and closing scenes of Sam going to school/home being sad/happy. Nice parallels.
– Mention of the truck, cake, and dogs in the beginning, that later tie into the ending.
– Repetitive use of the line “Everyone clapped when he was done.” after each kid did his show-and-tell. This helps build up Sam’s confidence for show-and-tell and gives the young reader confidence that everything is going to be okay.
– Otto saying “weaf” instead of “leaf.” Realistic speech, young kids (like my 4year old) often have a hard time with L’s and R’s. Also it shows Sam that is okay to do be imperfect.