Sunday, March 29, 2015

Before After by Anne-Margot Ramstein and Matthias Aregui

This is  a challenge - describing a book with amazing illustrations all based on the concept words Before and After and describing a book with 176 pages a no words!

I won't say too much except to say - get your hands on this book!  I first saw Before After in a local bookshop and I knew straight away it had to go on my shopping list for our school library.

Here are some of the pages to look for :
King Kong in the jungle and then in NYC
Cake ingredients become a huge tiered cake which is eaten a few pages later and we are left with crumbs
Pumpkin becomes a coach
Rocking horse and rocking chair - there is so much to talk about here
Card pack Card tower
Cube of ice puddle of water

One hint you do need to begin at the beginning and work through this book from front to back.

You can read a description on the Walker Books web site.   Here is the web site of Anne-Margot Ramstein and Mathias Aregui. I think children of all ages and adults too will enjoy spending time with this curious and interesting book.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

The miniature world of Marvin and James by Elisa Broach illustrated by Kelly Murphy

Last year I read Masterpiece by Elise Broach. This is a terrific book about a boy, a beetle and an audacious art theft. It is rarely on our library shelves as I constantly recommend it for students in grades 4 and 5.  You can listen to an audio extract here

The Miniature world of Marvin and James is a little book intended as a junior spin off.  I am guessing the idea might be that you read Masterpiece aloud to a group of young students in Grade 2 or 3 and then they can pick up one of the miniature adventures and continue their own reading about James and his splendid beetle friend Marvin.

The Miniature World of Marvin and James is the first book in this series.  James if off on a holiday.  Marvin can't go but he does help James to pack.  While James is away Marvin frets but then he chances upon an amazing place while exploring the house with his cousin Elaine.

"What is this thing?' Marvin asks.
'I don't know,' Elaine says, 'but isn't it the best?'
They perch at the edge of the tunnel, then dive, one after the other.  ...
As they are jumping and diving and rolling in the soft wood shavings, they hear a noise."
Take a look at the picture below for a hint about where they are playing and also take a look at the illustrator web page.

You can read an excerpt here and also some reviews.  This is little gem is a book with a fast pace and a very special hero.

Please write back by Jennifer E Morris

Please write back has just over 100 words nearly all of them repeated.  I am going to write some of the text here:

Alfie wrote a letter to Grandma
Dear Grandma
I love you.
Please write back.
Alfie addressed the letter
He stamped the letter
And he mailed the letter.
Then he waited for Grandma to write back

Why do I love this little book?  Because it has a terrific warm, funny story and yet it is accessible to the newest reader in your school.  This is a passion of mine.  To find little simple "chapter books" which my youngest students will enjoy.

Here are some reviews and a link to the other book about Alfie which you can also find in our school library along with some teacher notes.  This simple little book is simply terrific.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The billy that died with its boots on and other Australian verse by Stephen Whiteside

Issue Four of our NSW School Magazine will feature The billy that died with its boots on and other Australian verse in the Bookshelf section.

I am always pleased when I take time to read these selections.  Here is a amazing poetry book - one that would be a terrific resource for all teachers of Grades 3-6.

The themes in this book are so diverse there is sure to be a poem for every occasion.  Stephen Whiteside suggests the poems work best when read aloud.  Many would also work well as performance pieces.

Topics include : Dinosaurs, Around the house, In the garden and in the street, Dogs (and a cat), Anyone for sport?, Birds and beasts, At the beach, Out in the bush, Up in the snow, Out on the ocean, Rail, hail or shine?, A couple of heroes, Christmas, Here's something a bit different and finally Especially for performance.

Here is an extract from a poem about coffee cups which I think most teachers will relate to :

Mum's Abandoned Coffee cups

...  Mum's abandoned coffee cups,
With liquid brown and thick;
One's been standing there for days.
It has an oily slick.

Here's a new one, fresh and hot.
If I can be so bold,
I'd say that in an hour or two
It, too, will be stone cold.

The poem about Simpson and his Donkey would be perfect for an ANZAC assembly.  I also enjoyed the poem entitled The ice-cream that hurt.  Here is a detailed review.

The right word Roget and his thesaurus by Jen Bryant illustrated by Melissa Sweet

This wonderful book is simply inspirational - from the delicious words, scrumptious illustrations and profound intellect and work ethic of the man himself - Peter Mark Roget (pronounced 'Roh-Zhay').

The right word begins with a quote by JM Barrie taken out of his book Peter Pan:
"The man is not wholly evil - he has a thesaurus in his cabin."

I purchased this title to add to our growing collection of picture book biographies but this book offers so much more.  Our Grade Three students will study a unit entitled 'People and their beliefs'. Peter Mark Roget is a man of strong belief - a belief in the power of words.  From a young boy Peter loved lists.  In time his lists grew into a book.  "I want everyone to be able to use my WORD BOOK, not just doctors, politicians, and lawyers, but cobblers, fishmongers and factory workers."  And so the famous book used by people all over the world. Roget Thesaurus was born.

Here is an interview with the author.  Here are some teaching ideas.  Read more about the incredibly talented Melissa Sweet here.  Kirkus describes this book as marvelous! And I do too,

Here are some of the words you will find inside : whippersnapper, dodecahedron, rivulet, topsy-turvy, glimmer, luminary, iota, perfection, and unctuousness.  The final endpaper alone will give you many happy hours of word reading pleasure with exactly 1000 words selected by Roget.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Those Pesky Rabbits by Ciara Flood

Those Pesky Rabbits arrived in our school library today! Can you tell I am excited?  Yes it arrived TODAY and I am talking about it tonight!

Right from the first end paper I knew Those Pesky Rabbits would be a special book.  Home Sweet Home is embroidered on a framed sampler and our bear stands outside his solitary house.  Now jump to the back.  The sampler has changed and now includes five rabbits and a new house close by.  Bear now has neighbours and friends. Sorry, I am getting ahead of the story.  The opening lines are

"Bear lived on his own in the middle of nowhere and that was just the way he liked it."

The complication comes when a family of rabbits build their house right next door. Being good neighbours the rabbits knock on Bear's door.  They need some honey for a cake they are baking. Bear explains he has no honey but when we turn the page this huge lie is revealed - you will see not just one jar of honey but five enormous jars all with special labels attached detailing use of the honey.  "Delicious in milk, tea and hot chocolate"  "Good with figs and raisins"  "Yummy on pancakes"

The rabbits are not put off and return a little later to ask for help with chopping wood.  Bear says he is too busy but it is clear to the reader he is doing nothing and is just sitting in front of his own warm fire. The rabbits make one more visit this time with books to swap.  Take a close look at the titles - "How to be nice and make friends" "Vegetarian cooking"  "Rabbit adventures".

Bear yells at the rabbits that he just wants to be left alone and so that is exactly what happens until one day he finds a basket on his front door step.

It is easy to anticipate the happy ending but this will be new to a young reader.  I loved this book with its warm message of friendship, the pattern of three and the quirky little touches you will find on each page.  Take a look at the Bear's front door mat, the sneaky mouse who lives in his house, the seasonal change and the lovely snuggle scene where bear reads a book to his new friends after a day of honey collection, cake baking and wood chopping.

Those pesky rabbits is the first book written and illustrated by Ciara Flood.  Take a minute to check out her web site - it is as charming as her book.

After reading Those pesky rabbits you should also look for the bear series by Bonnie Becker.  You might also look for The Mice Next Door.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Sophie's Squash by Pat Zietlow Miller illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf

Before you read this book go to the fruit and vegetable shop and buy a squash or a butternut pumpkin.  As you read this book with a young child hold your squash or pumpkin close.  Now get ready to smile.

Sophie visits a farmers' market and she chooses a squash.  Mum and Dad have plans to cook the squash for supper but Sophie has other ideas.  She bounces and cuddles her squash and names her Bernice. She even gives her a face using markers.  "I'm glad we met ... good friends are hard to find."  Sophie whispers to her new friend.

Life goes on and Bernice becomes a natural part of Sophie's life with visits to story time at the library, games in the garden and even a return to the market to visit other squash.  Sadly, though, things do not continue to go smoothly.  The kids at the library say unkind things and Bernice herself begins to fade.  Sophie talks with a farmer at the market and he advises fresh air, good clean dirt and a little love.  At home Sophie makes "a bed of soft soil" and she tucks Bernice in and kisses her goodnight.  Mum and Dad know there is a gap is Sophie's life so they buy her Ace - a goldfish.  After winter Sophie returns to the garden.  Bernice is back - she has a little shoot coming up and by spring "Bernice had grown two tiny squash.  'Wow!; Sophie told them. 'You look just like your mom!"

If you enjoy Sophie's Squash you should also look for Elizabeti's Doll.

Here is a review by Travis Jonker.  Here are some teaching ideas pages. Perhaps you could make yourself a cloth pumpkin.  Take a minute to read the review in Kirkus.  Here is the web site for the author.  I highly recommend Sophie's Squash.  It is a book to enjoy over and over again with a young reader.  You can see inside the book here.