Monday, February 26, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey as a way to share what you have read and/or reviewed in the past week. It's also a terrific way to find out what other people are reading.

Jen Vincent, of Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee Moye of Unleashing Readers have given this meme a children's literature focus: picture books, middle grade novels, etc. They "encourage everyone who participates to support the blogging community by visiting the other bloggers that link up and leave comments for them.

Cold, snowy weather has given way to warmer, but rainier weather.  I'm glad to have a little reprieve from the bone-chilling cold, but with the weather weren't quite so dreary. I've spent a lot of time indoors this week, and so was able to get caught up on the stack of library books that I've borrowed from the library. Here's what I've been reading this week:

Cat lovers and older siblings will both be able to relate to this cute picture book. Oswald is the boss of everything in his house - the chair, the toilet paper, the door, etc. Until Pom-Pom arrives. Pom-Pom is cute and fluffy and hasn’t been informed that Oswald is the boss of everything. Young readers will enjoy finding out how Oswald is going to deal with this frustrating situation. The bold, colorful illustrations are terrific. This would be fun to share as a read aloud to younger children.

Since I was the youngest child in my family, I never had to deal with the stress of a new, baby brother or sister. But for those that are facing that family situation, this fun picture book might help look at the problem with a little bit of humor. Everything was going along fine for Marigold until Daisy was born. Suddenly everyone was way more interested in Marigold’s adorable baby sister. Young readers will enjoy seeing all the ways Daisy gets under Marigold’s skin, and what Marigold does about it. Humorous illustrations support the story nicely.

Young readers who are expecting a baby brother or sister will have a lot of fun with the lessons in this fun picture book. Written humorously as a guide, the book reminds soon-to-be older siblings that they are the perfect teachers for a new baby. With bright, funny digital illustrations, this book will be a fun one to have on the bookshelf.

I remember slumber parties as a little girl. We would always have such ambitious plans to stay up and have fun all night long. Duck and Cat are enjoying a sleepover in the barn, but as the two friends start to nod off, someone is hooting very loudly. Young readers will enjoy finding out just who is making all the racket. Cute illustrations in soft colors make this a nice book to share with kids getting ready for their own sleepover parties.

In a world that isn’t always encouraging or kind to girls or young women, Amy Krouse Rosenthal and her daughter, Paris, wrote this awesome letter to girls. The book jacket has this special note: “Dear Girl, This book is for you. Wonderful, smart, beautiful you. If you ever need a reminder, just turn to any page in this book and know that you are special and you are loved.” The clever, collage illustrations work with the awesome message of this book to create a wonderful gift to share with any of the girls or women in your life. This could also be a fun mentor text to help young writers create their own encouraging letters.

This clever picture book has a great growth mindset message for young readers: beauty is in the eye of the beholder and you are your cutest when you’re being yourself. Rot, a mutant potato, loves games and contests. So when he finds out about a cuteness contest, he signs up right away. But when he sees that the other contestants are super-adorable, he begins to have doubts about himself. Hilarious illustrations (including a shot of Rot’s “best side”) will have kids giggling as they read to find out who is the cutest in the world.

As spring arrives and nature starts to bloom, we turn our attention to ways that we can be good stewards of all of the wonderful gifts around us. This peculiar picture book tells the story of Big Jim Hickory, a lumberjack. He spends all day chopping down trees, cutting up the wood, and sending the logs down the river to the lumber mill. But his job turns several animals out of their homes, and so he provides a home for them in his big, bristly beard. Young readers might get a giggle or two as they see the difficulties this presents to the lumberjack and how he solves the problem. This could lead to a good discussion about deforestation and ways to help preserve the woodland habitats of these animals.

I love the close, special time the grandfather and granddaughter share in this sweet picture book that reflects on circles in our lives and in the natural world. As they work side by side in the garden, they consider rainbows, the cycles of plants, and the meaning in life and death. According to the author’s note at the back of the book, “These days it seems more people are finding ways of honoring the earth and their ancestors. More people are creating birth and death rituals that are right for their families. And more people are seeing themselves as part of a greater circle.” The beautiful digital illustrations enhance the special meaning of this book.

A group of kids make a moonlight trek out to a patch of ice in the cold, snowy forest to play hockey. And while I am not a hockey player myself, the beautifully rendered illustrations and the vivid descriptive writing, makes me feel as though I am part of an experience that is really special. The author uses all of the senses to talk about this game on one of the coldest nights of the year: “The game is on, and our shouts rise up and disappear into the cold, black sky. End to end and around we fly, the long black stripes of our shadows moving across the moonlit ice. We play hard and sweat freezes on hair and ears. We trip and fall into the snow, and it stings our cheeks as it melts, and the cold air burns our lungs. We must be careful. It is so cold there is a ring around the moon.” This is definitely a good one to share with young readers during the winter months.

Wilson promises Gigi, an elderly lady who lives in his neighborhood, that one day he will fix all of the broken things in her old house. When the day finally arrives, the little boy and a small army of neighbors show up with sleeves rolled up and love in their hearts. This awesome picture book is an inspiration to everyone to serve their neighbors. In a world where there is so much bad news, this wonderful story reminds us the importance of being connected to each other. The last page has an author’s note describing her own community’s efforts to help elderly neighborhoods and ways readers can try similar efforts in their own cities.

Charlie and Mouse are two precocious little boys who embrace each day with a fantastic exuberance. In this early reader picture book, young readers get to enjoy four stories that start with “lumps” waking up, enjoying an impromptu neighborhood party at the playground, creating a rock enterprise to make money, and enjoying a bedtime banana. The warm, friendly drawings by Emily Hughes ensure that this sweet story book will become a favorite on the shelf.

Anyone who has ever paused to wonder what their neighborhoods may have looked like through the years, will be fascinated by this awesome picture book. The book shows the 200 year life of an oak tree, and the gorgeous illustrations show those changes through the years. With each turn of a page, readers find themselves looking back and forth through the pages to note the changes and the things that have remained the same. This could generate some terrific discussions about changes through time and could also be a great mentor text to help writers create their own stories imagining the changes in their communities over the years.

When there are so many unhappy, disconnected people in the world, what a terrific message this picture book shares! This fantastic book helps readers understand that even though we feel powerless to be a part of the solution these days, something as simple as smiling can set a chain of events in motion that spreads love and good will. Amelia smiles as she and her parents run down the street in the rain. A woman sees this and decides to make cookies for her son in Mexico. Sharing the cookies with students moves them to do other good things, and so on. The gorgeous illustrations in bright, cheerful colors help make this a wonderfully uplifting book. As there seems to be violent, scary stories in the news almost daily, this book would be a great way to share with kids that we can still be part of the answer by being good role models of caring, connectedness, and hope.

This lovely picture book tells the story of a little girl and her animal friends who are on a mission to talk to the moon. But the moon is so very far away, it seems to be completely out of reach. Through the course of the story, which is wonderfully illustrated on plywood, the girl and her friends learn an important lesson about looking and listening. According to the book jacket, the author was “inspired to create this story after participating in Earth Hour, an event that encourages people to turn off the lights for an hour. Turning off the lights allowed me to sit quietly and appreciate the beautiful natural world and sky around me, beyond the light and noise of the city.”

Young children who are attached to their own teddy bears will understand the need for a cuddly friend in order to fall asleep. Little wolf is wide awake, and he is certain that a teddy bear would be a big help, but he has no idea where to find one. So he goes off in search of the answer. Young readers will enjoy Little Wolf’s encounters with familiar storybook characters The Three Little Pigs and Little Red Riding Hood on his quest for a teddy bear. He finally meets up with a kind man in a bright red suit who is able to help him out. While this is labeled has a Christmas book, this would be a nice bedtime story any tine of the year. It could also be a great mentor text to help young writers create their own fractured fairy tale stories.

This book celebrates the fun of snowy winter days with sixteen fun poems. The rollicking, rhyming text and warm, friendly illustrations show the joys of bundling up in a ton of warm clothes, sledding, building snowmen, and even catching a cold. This would be a terrific book to have on your bookshelf as part of a seasonal poetry collection.

I’ve shared this book with children many times throughout the years. It’s always been a favorite and I love the messages of kindness and “making room for one more”. This book could generate some great discussions about how we can serve our neighbors in need. The boy has a special relationship with his grandmother and I think that many children can relate to that. The illustrations, which capture the Ukrainian costumes and architecture so well, are gorgeous and another reason Jan Brett’s books are so popular.

This heartwarming picture book celebrates the special relationship that a little girl shares with her grandfather. Grandfather takes a neighborhood walk very early every Sunday morning. Sadie and her brother, Ben, take turns spending this special time with him. Young readers will appreciate the conversation and hot cocoa that the two enjoy, captured beautifully in the simple text and black and white sketches that accompany the story.

This beautifully illustrated wordless picture book captures the soft, white snow blanketing a train station throughout a wintry day. Nearly every page has a square picture, framed by a gray border, of a man shoveling the sidewalk, white snow falling from a gray sky, and passengers coming and going on a busy day. There is one double page spread of the scene, as a train sits waiting for passengers to climb aboard. By the end of the day, the station is empty, the moon has risen, the shoveling has stopped, and snow covers everything.

As March approaches and winter starts to give way to spring, this clever picture book tells a story about one little boy’s plot to hold onto the winter magic well into summer. During the last snowstorm of the year, Henry and his older brother, Pete, build a little snowman. Worried that the snowman would melt, Henry put it in the freezer and begged his mom to keep his secret. On the Fourth of July, Henry shared his secret with the whole town. This is an older picture book, but the fun story along with the illustrations make this a terrific book to share with young readers as winter comes to an end.