A True Honor – LeUyen Pham Asked for My Help

Pham

A few weeks ago I received an email from LeUyen Pham with the subject line “book suggestions from some of my favorite book people.”  Before I even opened the email, I was honored.  She’s presenting a lecture in Chicago this winter and  wanted ideas of newer books to include on a reading list.  The lecture is titled “Wandering Wonderland: An Immigrant’s Story Told Through Books.”  A week later, LeUyen asked if I would write about why I liked three of the books I recommended.  I’ve always wanted to visit Chicago.  Wish I could make it there on March 5th to attend the Butler Lecture at Dominican University.

ElephantPiggie

Elephant and Piggy Series by Mo Willems – Most easy reader books are boring.  It’s difficult to write a fun book with a limited vocabulary using words which are pronounced utilizing conventional phonics .  (It’s one reason Dr. Seuss and Amelia Bedelia books are still popular today.)  In 2007, the first of twenty-one Elephant & Piggie books was published.  Each one is as funny as the one before.  These easy readers build confidence and vocabulary in even the most reluctant of readers.  Each book is a conversation between Elephant and Piggie.  A perfect parent/child read-aloud where one can read Piggie’s lines. . . the other Elephant’s dialogue.

 

Long Walk to Water

A Long Walk to Water:  Based on a True Story by Linda Sue Park – This book should be required reading for fifth and sixth graders.  Told from two perspectives. . . a Sudanese boy in 1985 and an eleven-year-old girl during 2008.  Use this book as a springboard for important conversations about war, poverty, lack of clean water and other issues eleven-year-old children in other countries experience daily.

Inside Out & Back Again

Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai  – A novel in verse based on the author’s personal experience fleeing Vietnam and eventually landing in Alabama.   The short free verse poems perfectly evoke the struggles acclimating to a new language, food, clothing and customs.

Away We Go! by Migy

Away We Go

Away We Go! by Migy (AKA Miguel Ornia-Blanco) – “Mr. Fox is going to the moon! Away he goes in his hot air balloon. . . . But wait! Can Elephant come too? Sure! Let’s bring along some pizza. What about Giraffe? And Squirrel? Everyone is welcome in Mr. Fox’s balloon, but look out—will everyone fit?” (From Macmillan Publisher’s website)

Why should you read this book?
While vacationing at Great Wolf Lodge, I read this book to ML, my niece and my nephew.  They insisted I read it again.  My nephew enjoyed it as much as the indoor water slides.  He loved them, especially the River Canyon Run.

The illustrations in this book are unique and engrossing.  If the author was eligible for the Caldecott Award, this book would be on our Mock Caldecott list.  Unfortunately, you must live in the United States to win.  He’s one of England’s extremely talented picture book artists.

Outside the Box: A Book of Poems

Outside the Box

I haven’t featured a collection of poems in a long time.  My favorite collection from 2014 was Outside the Box:  A Book of Poems by Karma Wilson and drawings by Diane Goode.

ML and my favorite poem from the book is “My Friend . . . Imaginary.”

Other favorites include:

Citizen of the Month
Werewolves
Inside Joke
Ick . . . Gross . . . Ew . . .
Monkey Business
You’re No Lady!
Bear Bare Feet
Alan Had a Little Frog
Captain Cluck
Pigasus
Water-Slide-a-Phobia
Gamer

This year, I’m in charge of the Poetry Celebration at ML’s school.  Students submit poems.  Then, standouts are chosen to be read at the Spring Assembly.  To market the Poetry Celebration, I would love for the fifth graders to read poems from Outside the Box on the school’s morning news show.

Wintry Weather

OutsideSnowmans StoryFirst SnowBlizzardThe Reader

Last year we were inundated with 2 hour delays, 2 hour early releases, and school cancelled due to weather.  Today, was our first brush with winter weather for 2015.  (No snow.  Icy roads and trees.)  This delay wasn’t anxiety producing like it usually is for me.  We learned of the delay early last evening.  I don’t work until noon on Wednesdays.  So ML and I slept late, ate a leisurely breakfast and enjoyed each other’s company.

Below are picture books about wintry weather published in the past year.  Except, The Reader, published in 2012.  I discovered it this summer and have been waiting for the first wintry mix to share it with you.

Outside by Deirdre Gill – “In this gentle picture book fantasy, a child’s world transforms through his hard work, imagination, and persistence when he opens the door and steps outside, into to the brave new world of his imagination.”

Snowman’s Story by Will Hillenbrand – “One wintry day, a hat lands on the head of a newly made snowman and brings him to life. Hiding inside the hat is a rabbit, who listens to the snowman read a story to some animal friends. When the snowman falls asleep, the rabbit hops away with the book. But the snowman isn’t about to let his story—or the mischievous rabbit—get away. The chase is on!”

First Snow by Peter McCarty – “It’s a day of firsts for Pedro . . . First snowfall. First snow angel. First taste of a snowflake. First sled run. First snowball fight!”

Blizzard by John Rocco – “Blizzard is based on John Rocco’s childhood experience during the now infamous Blizzard of 1978, which brought 53 inches of snow to his town in Rhode Island.”

The Reader by Amy Hest and illustrated by Lauren Castillo – In this timeless picture book, a new reader trudges through deep snow with a mysterious suitcase in tow. He has something important to share with his faithful companion, who bolts ahead to wait at the top of a tall hill. Our small hero climbs higher and higher, until finally, he is there, too. Then he opens his suitcase—click, click—and soon the only sound in the world is the sound of the reader reading their very favorite book to the very last page…the very last word.”

Two Books, One Illustrator

Smallest GirlLast Stop on Market Street

Recently, I brought home two books illustrated by the same author.  I didn’t even realize it until we finished the second book.  ML is becoming an expert in determining the mediums used for picture books.   She nailed it for both these books.  The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade uses color pencils.   Last Stop on Market Street uses a combination of acrylic paint and collage.

The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade by Justin Roberts and illustrated by Christian Robinson – “Hardly anyone noticed young Sally McCabe.  She was the smallest girl in the smallest grade.  But Sally notices everything—from the twenty-seven keys on the janitor’s ring to the bullying happening on the playground. One day, Sally has had enough and decides to make herself heard. And when she takes a chance and stands up to the bullies, she finds that one small girl can make a big difference.”  (From Penguin’s website)

Last Stop on Market Street words by Matt De La Pena and pictures by Christian Robinson – “Every Sunday after church, CJ and his grandma ride the bus across town. But today, CJ wonders why they don’t own a car like his friend Colby. Why doesn’t he have an iPod like the boys on the bus? How come they always have to get off in the dirty part of town? Each question is met with an encouraging answer from grandma, who helps him see the beauty—and fun—in their routine and the world around them.” (From Penguin’s website)

Why should you read these books?
Both stories are sweet; but not sappy.  They show even the littlest people can make a huge difference.

I’m embarrassed to admit, ML thought the Grandma and boy’s last stop was for a cookout.  The concept of a soup kitchen is foreign to her.  Luckily, there is a local Food Bank which has special days for children to volunteer packing food for families.  I’m calling today to find out more details.

My Bus

MyBus

My Bus by Byron Barton“A lively celebration of vehicles and transportation, occupations, pets, and basic math concepts. The busy bus driver in Byron Barton’s preschool tour-de-force has a job to do. He drives his bus along his route, picks up the cat and dog passengers waiting at the bus stops, and delivers them to their destinations—which in this case include the airport, the harbor, and the train station. Along the way, children are introduced to the concepts of addition, subtraction, and sets. A surprise ending of sorts—what will happen to the very last passenger? (from Harper Collins website)

Why should you read this book?
It’s a simple, interactive math related book for preschoolers.  Byron Barton knows his audience.  A book with dogs, cats, a variety of transportation and bold illustrations is always a hit.

Supertruck by Stephen Savage

Supertruck

Supertruck by Stephen Savage – “When the city is hit by a colossal snowstorm, only one superhero can save the day. But who is this mysterious hero, and why does he disappear once his job is done? Find out in this snowy tale about a little truck with a very big job.” (Synopsis from MacMillan Publishers website)

Why should you read this book?
Today, I’m sharing my expert opinion.  ML has yet to read this book.  However, I know during her preschool years she would have insisted we read it over and over.  Then, again and again.  At that age, she was fascinated by garbage trucks.  Anytime we saw one, she insisted we follow it.

A book about trucks and snow… a dream combination for the preschool set.  Any guesses on what the garbage truck transforms into?