We opened two boxes of new books this week so I am reading and enjoying a whole new crop. Here are some of the picture books that have tickled my fancy;
Cookies; Bite–Size Life Lessons. Amy Krouse Rosenthal. Illustrated by Jane Dyer. A dictionary for words like Patient (waiting and waiting for the cookies to be done) and Respect (offering the very first cookie to you grandmother). Some of the illustrations capture my heart and I adore them. One little thing bothers me enough to not keep coming back; some of the illustrations are of animals dressed up like people and that just rubs me the wrong way. It’s a shame because I love the text and the illustrations of children and adults.
Unlikely Pairs; Fun with Famous Works of Art. Bob Raczka. This is a work of genius! Photos of art work side by side that you would never find together in a museum. The stories suggested by these combinations could be whimsical and thought-provoking. Children are going to love this book and want to go out to see the art in person. It would be great for classroom story starters, discussion, and inspiration. Information about the art work is included in the index.
Hooway for Wodney Wat. Helen Lester. Illustrated by Lynn Munsinger. “Poor Wodney. Wodney Wat. His real name was Rodney Rat, but he couldn’t pronounce his r’s. To make matters worse, he was a rodent. A wodent.” This is a darling book about getting along on the playground. It gives me courage to see how little Wodney champions his weakness and becomes a hero. I had to laugh, reading it to myself so I know the kids are going to love it. The illustrations are charming as well.
Flotsam. David Wiesner. A boy who likes to look for stuff on the beach finds an underwater camera. He gets the film developed and you will not believe what pictures he discovers! This is an amazing book, as all Wiesner’s are. My second graders are studying the ocean now, and I am going to share this book with them. There is no text, so I can’t read it to them, but I am going to encourage their teachers to check it out to the classrooms so the kids have time to study and discuss it. The more you look, the more you see!
First Day Jitters. Julie Danneberg. Illustrated by Judy Love. The first day at a new school… don’t we all hate that? I changed schools four times by fourth grade, so I know all about those jitters. As a teacher I have walked into countless new classrooms (teaching ESL for years you are like an itinerate peddler) and I have a love/hate response to new environments. Sarah Jane Hartwell wakes up on a sunny morning the first day of a new school and she doesn’t want to get out of bed. Thank Goodness Mr. Hartwell is there to egg her on and get her to the school steps where the principal greets her and ushers her in to meet the hubbub of eager children. If you are like me you will be identifying so much with Sarah you won’t be surprised a bit by the ending! This is a great book for September and a new start.
Thelonius Monster’s Sky-High Fly Pie; A revolting rhyme by Judy Sierra with delicious drawings by Edward Koren. It is a revolting rhyme but is sings so well you won’t be able to help yourself enjoying it as much as the little boys who are giggling and wiggling while you recite. If you have ever thrown a dinner party with a scrumptious desert that took all day to make and turned out completely different than you planned, you will so get this book! And who could be happier on such an occasion than to hear “your creepiest cousin declare with a roar, ‘A dessert like this never existed before – a pie that could sparkle, could sing, and could soar. It’s despicably sweet (with a slight hint of fly). You’re a fabulous cook! You’re a wonderful guy!” It’s a silly book but it gets to the heart of what we all want to hear. Another great one to share with the children.
Team Moon; How 400,000 People Landed Apollo 11 on the Moon. Catherine Thimmesh. This is a fabulous non-fiction book telling the real story of how much work and how many people were involved in that first moon landing. If you think you know about Apollo 11 you will be delighted to read all this back story, and if you know very little you will begin to be fascinated. My favorite pages are in the middle of the book, with photos of the earth as that small blue marble taken from the moon. I have always loved that view of the earth so when flipping through the book I had to stop there to begin reading. The story of how the astronauts were trained to be photographers and how the film was decontaminated from imagined “space bugs” is a real head-shaker. Those pictures changed the way we saw our “water planet” as Jacques Cousteau said. “We are all in the same boat”, he wrote. That boat is spaceship earth, a blue jewel glowing in the night of space, radiant and shining with the fluid of life – the all-encompassing sea.” As I am reading his biography to the second graders I will have to show them this book as well, and let them see how the exploration of space connected with the work of Cousteau exploring the undersea world. It’s amazing. Here’s what Chris Barton blogged about the book.
Snapshots; the wonders of Monterey Bay. Celeste Davidson Mannis. Here is another beautiful non-fiction book full of gorgeous photographs. The text explains the ecosystem and the life forms found in tide pools and breakers. The stunning full page photos are breath-taking. This is another book our second graders are going to pour over. "The Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary is the largest federally protected marine environment in North American", say the author, who often visited there as a child. What a treat for us that she grew up to be a writer and photographer determined to share her joy.