Fill your house with stacks of books, in all the crannies and all the nooks. ~ Dr. Seuss

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A Rock Can Be

A Rock Can Be
by Laura Purdie Salas (Author), Violeta Dabija (Illustrator)

Rocks are everywhere!

Laura and Violeta have done it again! The third in a series of non-fiction picture books (“Water Can Be” and “ A Leaf Can Be”), “A Rock Can Be..” is a stunningly beautiful, easy to read and fantastic non fiction reading for kids of all ages.

In “A Rock Can be”, Laura and Violeta asks the reader to imagine how and where you can find different types of rocks. A rock is not just a simple static stone lying in the backyard. It can be a Tall Mountain..

A Rock can be Tall mountain

Or a “lake skimmer

 A Rock can be cover Rock skimmer

Or even a “moon rock

 A Rock can be cover Moon Rock

This little picture book packs so much information. What is fascinating that with just a series of short rhyming couplets, the author and illustrator duo highlight that a rock can be found in so many places and can be used in so many ways. From fossilized bones and earth’s crust to a volcanic rock and cliff side home for birds, A rock can be so many many things!

The book ends with a double spread providing more detailed explanation of each of the rock presentations in the book. An absolute gem of a book, a conversation starter for classroom and home libraries!

FTC DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of the above books from the publishers for an honest opinion. I have NOT received any compensation for this review. All reviews and opinions are entirely my own!

Find it here: Library, Amazon, Better World Books

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Mad About Monkeys

Mad About Monkeys
by Owen Davey (Author, Illustrator)

So many Monkeys!

Making a non-fiction subject kid friendly is always a challenge. But when it comes to a topic as broad and generic as “Monkeys”, the task becomes even harder. Owen Davey tackles this very uniquely.

“Mad About Monkeys” is not just a basic introduction to the “monkey” family. The book begins with an introduction to primates and how and when this species evolved. The first double spread page covers what these monkeys eat and where you can find them.

Mad About Monkeys uncle

Having covered the basics, the author jumps into more specifics. Did you know we have “Old world monkeys” (down facing noses) and “New world monkeys”(flat noses)? Follow the page to a quick quiz on identifying which monkey belongs to the new world and which ones is an old world monkey.

Mad About Monkeys types

Owen Davey goes on to describe the social life and hierarchy. Other spreads talk about the “weird and wonderful” monkey species found in different parts of the world. Fast facts makes it fun for the reader to keep reading. Turn the page to find out about the monkey with the longest tail (the Spider monkey), or how about the “hairiest” monkey (Bearded Emperor Tamarin)?

Mad About Monkeys Featured creatures

What makes this book special is Owen Davey’s visually striking geometric patterned art work and intriguing layout of textual information and illustrations. This book was hard to put down and we loved pouring over it from front cover to the back! Highly recommend it!

FTC DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of the above books from the publishers for an honest opinion. I have NOT received any compensation for this review. All reviews and opinions are entirely my own!

Find it here : Library, Amazon, Better World Books

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Ira’s Shakespeare Dream

Ira’s Shakespeare Dream
by Glenda Armand (Author) , Floyd Cooper (Illustrator)

Dreams DO come true!

 Ira Aldridge, born in the late 1800s, had always known that he wanted to become an actor. Specifically, he wanted a role in William Shakespeare’s plays. Standing high on the balcony, Ira would watch and memorize the lines of the current Shakespeare play. In his school, Ira would pace back and forth and recite lines from Hamlet expertly. Listeners would heartily compliment his skills and his delivery.

Ira's Shakespeare Dream reciting

Ira was convinced that he wanted to pursue a career performing. But his teacher reminded him that only white actors performed in plays in America at that time. Ira decided to share with his pa, his big Shakespeare Dream. But Pa was less than convinced about his son’s chosen path. He even called Ira’s Shakespeare dream foolish. Despite all the negativity, Ira wouldn’t give up on his dream. He would sneak out to watch plays in the new theaters nearby.

One day Ira decided to leave home in pursuit of his dream. He headed to London where he found work running errands at small theaters. He also became an understudy and finally after waiting for months, Ira got his chance.

Ira’s performance was very well received. A few scoffed and remarked that Ira needed more training. And few more insisted that Ira should not play “white actor roles”. But Ira was not to be discouraged. He knew he had to work hard, study and prove that he was an actor worthy of any Shakespeare play.

Ira's Shakespeare Dream finally

This is a well written picture book biography of an African American actor, Ira Alderidge. This is the story of an actor who didn’t receive recognition for his excellent skills in America, but he earned his stars abroad. Ira Alderidge was considered one of the best Shakespearean actor of his time.

Beautiful oil painted illustrations capture the stage and drama in its splendor. We loved reading Ira’s spellbinding delivery of Othello on stage. This is a true story of grit, determination, hard work and above all a desire to pursue a dream amongst hardships.

Ira’s Shakespeare Dream is an excellent addition to any non-fiction collection. A well-researched, African American biography, a diversity read for every age group really.. Highly recommended!

Find it here: Library, Amazon

FTC DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of the above books from the publishers for an honest opinion. I have NOT received any compensation for this review. All reviews and opinions are entirely my own!

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Multicultural Children’s Book Day

Multicultural Children’s Book Day

Please join in me in celebrating Multicultural Children’s Book Day this week. We love to read books from different cultures and love to participate in multicultural activities! As part of an effort to promote multicultural reading, I have joined hands with a fantastic groups of passionate bloggers to bring forth some unique kidlit!

Here is their Mission Statement:

Our mission is to not only raise awareness for the kid’s books that celebrate diversity, but to get more of these of books into classrooms and libraries.

 Two books from Chinese culture were chosen for book review at Stacking Books. Here is a sneak peek!

Bowls of Happiness

Bowls of Happiness: Culture and heritage at its best!

This is a story about little “piggy” and her mom who is making a special bowl for her. In  Chinese culture, making a bowl is an intricate process. Every color and item is chosen carefully as each of these elements have a deeper meaning. As mom adds first the base color, and then symbols, we learn about what they symbolize. This book is just lovely!

Beautifully illustrated, each spread shows a detail of the bowl and the text matches it up with what the symbol or color depict. The book is divided into a story and then followed up with an activity plus a section which highlights different types of bowls, the artwork on these bowls and their symbolic meaning in the Chinese culture. The activity, as you might guess is to create your own bowl.

I really enjoyed reading this book. The Chinese artwork is captivating, the colors are lively and to read about the symbolism from a cultural perspective was enlightening. I definitely learned something new about the culture. A beautiful way to capture tradition, culture and pass it on to the younger generation. Don’t miss this one!

Find it here: Amazon

What was it like Mr Emperor

What was it like Mr. Emperor?

How was it like to grow up to become the emperor of the Forbidden City? As a child, what was the routine for an emperor? What happened if the first born was a girl and not a boy? Were there any girl emperor’s in those days?

These are a few of the questions that the book attempts to answer. Written in a dialogue mode between a child of today asking the questions, the author leads you through “a day in
the life of a Emperor”. This book is packed with tons of information and written to suit a younger audience. Readers will enjoy comparing the life style of a child from that era to
their lives today. The bold black outlined illustrations are kid friendly.  Overall an interesting take on Chinese history and culture. Recommended for ages 8+

Find it here: Library, Amazon

FTC DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of the above books from the publishers for an honest opinion. I have NOT received any compensation for this review. All reviews and opinions are entirely my own!

 From MCCBD team:

Our Mission: The MCCBD team’s mission to spread the word and raise awareness about the importance of diversity in children’s literature. Our young readers need to see themselves within the pages of a book and experience other cultures, languages, traditions and religions within the pages of a book. We encourage readers, parents, teachers, caregivers and librarians to follow along the fun book reviews, author visits, event details, a multicultural children’s book linky and via our hashtag (#ReadYourWorld) on Twitter and other social media.

The co-creators of this unique event are Mia Wenjen from Pragmatic Mom and Valarie Budayr from Jump Into a Book/Audrey Press. You can find a bio for Mia and Valarie here.

Sponsor Mentions

Multicultural Children’s Book day 2016 Medallion Level Sponsors! #ReadYourWorld

Platinum: Wisdom Tales Press * StoryQuest Books*Lil Libros

Gold: Author Tori Nighthawk*Candlewick Press

Silver: Lee and Low Books*Chronicle Books*Capstone Young Readers

Bronze: Pomelo BooksAuthor Jacqueline Woodson*Papa Lemon BooksGoosebottom Books*Author Gleeson Rebello*ShoutMouse Press*Author Mahvash ShaheghChina*

CoHostsMulticultural Children’s Book Day has 12 amazing Co-Host and you can view them here.

Classroom Reading Challenge:Help spread the word on our  Classroom Reading Challenge . This very special offering from MCCBD offers teachers and classrooms the chance to (very easily) earn a free hardcover multicultural children’s book for their classroom library. These books are not only donated by the Junior Library Guild, but they are pre-screened and approved by them as well.

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Goodnight Selfie

Goodnight Selfie
by  Scott Menchin (Author), Pierre Collet-Derby (Illustrator)

Selfie taking obsession!

 A little girl gets her brother’s old camera phone. Her brother also showed her how to take a selfie! With a few tries, she is able to take a really good selfie! There it is!!!

Goodnight Selfie inside

Now little girl can take a selfie anytime she wants. When she wakes up with and her hair is all crazy… when she brushes her teeth.. when she puts too much jam on her toast and eats it!

Little girl can’t stop taking selfies! She is trying all kinds of  poses, and in all kinds of places. After a whole lot of days of many many more selfies, mom has an idea. “Why not take a picture of others in it?” she suggests. Will little girl take the hint and turn away from selfies?

Goodnight Selfie inside2

I am not personally into taking selfies, but found this book a real fun read. My 8 year old was also mildly amused at the selfie taking obsession going on in the book. We both really enjoyed reading this one. This book reminds me of when kids become obsessed with a new game and will obsess over it for a while until something else comes along We also really liked the illustrations. The sharp lines and crayon coloring makes this a fun book for kids to read.

Would you like to win a copy?? Enter here:-
a Rafflecopter giveaway

FTC DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of the above books from the publishers for an honest opinion. I have NOT received any compensation for this review. All reviews and opinions are entirely my own!

Find it here: Library, Amazon


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In The New World

In The New World
by  Christa Holtei(Author), Gerda Raidt(Illustrator)

A Family in Two Centuries!

“In the New World” : A Family in two centuries is a fascinating story about a fictional German immigrant family and their 5th generation descendants. The story opens with an introduction to what life was in the 1850’s in the country of Germany. Lack of food due to various conditions had made it difficult for people to survive. Many people chose to migrate and come to the “New World”, America. The picture book introduces to us a German family of 4: Robert and Maragaret Peters (Dad and Mom), and their two children Johannes and Dorothea (son and daughter).

The story then intrduces to us life in the village and invites us into the home of Robert and Maragaret. We soon discover that the family faces many challenges and inevitably they are forced into making the decision to move to America. Preparations for departure begin. The family must sew cloth sacks to carry their possessions after selling off their belongings. They pack a large trunk to carry the rest. And they take a souvenir picture to take with them as a memory of their days in the village. Finally they are on their way..

In The New World inside3

The kids are excited about their voyage. The boat is a noisy place to be in. Space is cramped with everyone sharing sleeping bunks. Conditions are not sanitary and the air stinks! But despite everything, the people on the boat keep their spirits up. They play music and pass time by helping each other. Soon enough the 310 passengers arrive in the port of New Orleans.

But New Orleans is not the final destination for the Peters family. They must travel onward via the Mississippi to St. Louis, Missouri. From there they take the Union Pacific Railway to Omaha, Nebraska — their final destination.

In Omaha, the Peters family is allotted a square piece of land. In Omaha the family buys supplies and load up their brand new wagon to travel 10 long days to their allotted piece of land where they will finally settle down and re-build their lives.

Time goes by and the generations of Peters family who live in there now are the 5th descendants. One day they discover the photo sovenier of their ancestors and wonder where the family came from. To learn more the descendant family of 4 travel back to Germany to find out more…

In The New World inside2

This picture book is really a portrait of two generations of families highlighting immigrant experience from back in the late 1800’s. Through carefully crafter verse and beautiful pencil and color illustrations, the book brings to life a challenging experience for the many people who travel thousands of miles for a brand new start.

We really enjoyed reading through this book. This book is great as conversation starters for current immigrant families. I loved looking through the art which so beautifully captures the mood and period of the book.

“In The New World” is really a beautiful example of non-fiction and fiction, tender and insightful, emotive and informative for readers of all ages!

Find it here: Library, Amazon, Better World Books

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Lost for Words

Lost for Words
by Natalie Russell (Author, Illustrator)

Writer’s Block!

Tapir has a brand new notebook and some nice pencils. He stares at the first blank page wondering what he should write! He stares and stares but nothing comes to mind. His page looks empty and he has no idea what to write!

Lost for words Not know

Tapir’s friend, Giraffe has some pretty good ideas about writing. In fact, Giraffe was writing an excellent poem about a tree. Giraffe sure had a way with words!

Tapir’s other friend Hippo is writing too.. Hippo is sitting in his nice muddy pool, making up a lovely rescue story with Hippo as the hero!

And then there is the lovely Flamingo. Flamingo is quite good with songs. This one poem that she currently writing about is how the sun shines brightly in the sky!

“I MUST be doing something wrong!” thought Tapir too himself. He felt quite lost for words Frown So he decides to find a nice quite spot, on the top of the hill, from where he could see a beautiful view and all his friends in it.. Maybe now he will find some ideas! Smile

Lost for words thinking

“Lost for Words” has a wonderful message. When Tapir finds himself comparing his abilities with the others, he suddenly feels quite incapable. But when he finds that nice quite corner to be alone and find confidence in what he can do.. he finds out that he could be quite unique too.. just like his friends!  I also love the three writing techniques that the author presented. Children will find inspiration in different techniques in which to express themselves.

The bright and colorful screen-print style illustrations in “Lost for Words” are very child-like and likable. The double spread art work with sunny skies, blue and green landscape will make this a fun to read book for kids.

“Lost for Words” may not be unique in its theme, but is very unique in the way the theme is presented. The surprise ending will leave a smile on every readers face Smile

Find it here: Library, Amazon, Better World Books

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If an Armadillo Went to a Restaurant

If an Armadillo Went to a Restaurant
by Ellen Fischer (Author), Laura Wood (Illustrator)

What DO animals eat?? Surprised

A silly, super sweet non-fiction, “If an Armadillo Went to a Restaurant” will answer this question. The picture book non-fiction gives you a peek into what different animals would order if they were to go to a restaurant.

Will they order a pizza or a sandwich? No!!

If an Armadillo went to a restaurant Giraffe

If an Armadillo went to a restaurant Ostrich

How about spaghetti with meatballs? No! No!! Smile

If an Armadillo went to a restaurant Armadillo

An Armadillo would probably prefer a plate of ants and worms (with a few beetles thrown in of course!) Wouldn’t that be delectable?? (GROSS!!)

Suited for 3+ year olds, this adorable book follows a pattern, introducing a new animal on alternate pages and asking the reader what food would best suit the palate of that animal. Find animals such as sea turtles, snake, butterflies, kangaroos and many more. We loved discovering the different types of food and playing a “guessing” game for each animal. And the “reveal” would leave the kiddo with lots of “eeeeww” and “yuuuuck” and similar sounding words!  The book ends with a question around what would the reader order if he/she went to a restaurant with a small kids menu… yum!

Gentle pacing, simple language and silly answers will keep the young readers engaged. Laura Wood’s cute kid-friendly art is colorful and eye catching. Her quirky animal renderings, pictures of various animal food on plates and adorable expressions on their faces are instantly lovable.

A great picture book non-fiction for libraries, classrooms and home reading.

Find it here: Library, Amazon, Better World Books

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5 Graphic Novels we Loved!

5 Graphic Novels we Loved!

1. Fairy Tale Comics edited by Chris Duffy

Fairy Tale Comics page
This is a collection of 17 of your favorite fairy tales. And along with your well known favorites like “Snow White” and “Goldilocks”, there are some unique finds too, like “The Prince and the Tortoise: from 1001 nights and “The Boy who drew cats”. What is unique about this collection is that each tale has been illustrated by 17 different artists who put their own unique “signature” on the tales. It is a delight to re-read your favorite and new tales in such a diversity of art in one single book. From Raina Telgemeier’s straight bold line comic art work to Brett Helquist’s more parchment colored art, this book is truly a very unique collection.

2. Odd Duck by Cecil Castellucci

Odd Duck cover
We fell in love with the very predictable Theodora and her new quirky “odd” friend Chad. This is a story about friendship, impressions and acceptance.
The author/illustrator duo have created a charming story in a “graphic novel” format. Word balloons, clear pastel colors and strong lines with lots and lots of whimsical, quirky details makes this book very endearing! This tale has an age old theme of “be yourself”. The unique twist however comes when the “Odd Duck” seems to think that their world is quite normal while the others are somehow “different”. At the end, however, the “Odd Duck” realizes that being different, isn’t that bad after all..

3. Monster on the Hill by Rob Harrell 

Monster on the Hill page

Do you want to read a fun, goofy and super silly tale about monsters? If you answered with a resounding “YES” then this is the book for you !! Rob Harrell’s Monster on the hill is not scary at all. While other monsters in their other hometowns are scaring people silly, Stoker-on-Avon’s monster is moaning and groaning and sulking all day long. Bottom line: Stoker-on-Avon’s monster sucked! Now its up to two very unusual partners to solve this monster’s problems and get him back on his feet.

4. Hereville series by Barry Deutsch

Hereville series cover

Hereville, a contemporary Orthodox Jewish community, is the home of an 11 year old girl, Mirka. But Mirka is a restless soul. Her wise stepmother tries to quiet her restless spirit by teaching her to knit. Mirka, however, has other ideas. A talking pig encounter takes Mirka on an extra ordinary journey that ends up with Mirka having to sword fight an alien for her life! So what’s so unique about this series? We loved reading about the traditional background of a restless modern 11 year old girl. Her emotional tug of war with her upbringing, customs and her desire to do the “unthinkable” (such as fight aliens and save the world). The author does a superb job of blending the unreal and the real while keeping everything on track. Can’t wait for more of Mirka!

5. El Deafo by Cece Bell

El Deafo cover
One day little Cece falls ill with meningitis. As she recovers, the family and Cece realize that she has lost her hearing. Over the next few months, Cece has to get multiple hearing tests and then ends up having to wear a hearing aid for her life. As little Cece slowly settles into her “new” regular life as an hearing impaired child, she struggles to blend in, make friends and find something special. And one day she realizes that she indeed has a super power. Something that makes her special.. her hearing aid picks up voices from far away. A talent that no one else poses. And thus “El Deafo” is born. We loved this tale for all the conversation starters it provides. A serious subject told with so much heart, a little bit of humor and with a lot of poise, this book is a MUST read for everyone!

Are graphic novels “real” books? Should they count towards reading?

Prejudices: I have come across this question many times. Some parents and educators believe that graphic novels are not serious books or should not be counted as good reads or encouraged. Schools do not allow graphic novels for book reports and other literacy based projects. However, graphic novels have come a long way. They are smart, mature reads. As you can see from above examples, the story telling is very unique and fresh. The format lends itself beautifully for girls and boys. Topics range from serious (El Deafo) to quirky (Mirka) to good old fun (Fairy tales).

Here are a few benefits to reading graphic novels:

Foster love for Reading:  Graphic novels can be a great motivation for reading books. I know many kids tire from their regular reading and need a break. A graphic novel is a wonderful way to provide that break. It is a fun way to get reading done, diversify reading habits and work on reading longer too!

Story telling: The creativity that goes into building stories in this format is simply superb. Artists use so many different visual cues to send subtle messages to the readers. For example: Look at the picture below of Cece finally realizing that something was different. This single page is so powerful in the way it expresses the confusion and fear Cece feels. It is hard to imagine this being in any other format. Matt Phelan, a veteran graphic novel artist and store teller, explains it beautifully with his book “Bluffton”:

Struggling or reluctant readers: Graphic novels are dimply the best way to get reluctant readers excited about reading. It builds reading confidence and kids also end up reading longer!

What are your thoughts around graphic novels? Have you read one recently?

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thumbnail If an Armadillo Went to a Restaurant article post
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