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







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The Man Who Lost His Head

The Man Who Lost His Head
by Claire Huchet Bishop (Author), Robert McCloskey (Illustrator)

Literally!

In 2003, the New York Review of Children’s Collection started publishing children’s books “in an attempt to reward readers who long wished for the return of their favorite titles and to introduce those books to a new generation of readers”. The NYR books publishes books for pre-schoolers through to chapter books and novels for older children.

“The Man Who Lost His Head” is a New York Review Children’s picture book, written by author Bishop known for her books like “The Five Chinese Brothers” or “Pancakes-Paris” and illustrated by Robert McCloskey, best known for his books “Blueberries for Sal” and “Make way for Ducklings”.

This is a story about a man who wakes up one morning and finds that he has lost his most agreeable and handsome head! Literally! Frantically, the man “looks” for it everywhere!

The Man Who Lost His Head Lost2

But it was not to be found anywhere! So he tries really hard to remember.. but that was hard to do without his head! Frown Fortunately, his hands and legs remind him of the pig that he had taken to the fair to be sold yesterday. So the man who lost his head decides to go back to the fair and look for his head there.

But, he couldn’t possibly go out without a head, can he? So he decides to make a new one!

The Man Who Lost His Head Parsnip

 

But no matter what he tries on, the “new” head was just not right! Finally, he settles in for a head carved out of wood. It wasn’t like his head from before, but it would have to do.

As he walks through the village, the people greet him pleasantly. The man who lost his head thinks that this new head might not be so bad after all. Finally, he reaches the fair and wonders “where shall I look for my head?

The Man Who Lost His Head Pumpkin

It turns out that a young chap who knows no discipline saves the day before the man who lost his head loses it forever! How? Read this book to find out Smile

This is a delightful story, with just the right amount of “craziness” going on! Entertaining, yet bizarre, the story about the man who lost his head is fresh and exciting right from page one. Bishop’s story telling is masterful, funny and amusing.

What makes this book special is McCloskey’s exquisite graphic pen and ink art work. Each page has detailed black and white illustrations with graphite and brush shadings to give it a realistic look. This striking contrast of colors and texture adds to the book’s quirkiness. The details on the artwork are pretty amazing! One can spend a great deal of time just enjoying this little book for its art work.

First published in 1940, this book is still accessible to children and adults today. We loved turning the pages to find out how this story would end!

Find it here: Library, Amazon, Better World Books


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Poem Mobiles

Poem Mobiles
by J.Patrick Lewis (Author), Douglas Florian (Author), Jeremy Homes (Illustrator)

Crazy Car Poems

 Crazy poems? Car poems? You got them both in this one delightful little book. 22 fantastical, futuristic, clever poems by an U.S Children’s Poet Laureate (Lewis) and an award-winning children’s poet (Florian) will capture the imagination of the youngest in your house!

We first read rave reviews and were excited to find this book @ Sue’s KidLit site: here

 

Train means train, bus means bus,

Truck means truck, for most of us.

So auto out to mean, you see,

Auto automatically

But someday our fantastic cars

Might look like cool dark chocolate bars,

Banana splits, hot dogs or fish-

Or any kind of ride you wish.

And so we’d like to offer you

A futuristic sneak preview

Of wacky cars, fender to fin.

Now turn the page and take a spin.

So begins this “Fun”-tastic book of poems on crazy cars! Take a ride in the “Fish car” which looks like a fish with a tremendous fin! This car is complete with sharp teeth and gills down its side. Take a ride to the bottom of the sea in this “Fish Car”.

Poem Mobile Fish Car

Maybe you would like the “Bathtub Car”. This car comes with hot water heating and porcelain seating! With all the sudsy bubbles, you’ll forget all kinds of troubles J I know I want one!

Poem Mobile Bathtub Car

My favorite pick would be the “Giant Bookmobile of Tomorrow”. Why you ask? For one, the driver is the Gingerbread Man, and the Fuel: Imagination Power !! Lewis and Florian say:

“My bookmobile has just one goal:

To entertain on cruise control”

Poem Mobile Bookmobile

And if none of these satisfy your futuristic palette, then how about these:

  1. Mini-Mini car
  2. Eel-ectric Car
  3. Jurrasic Park (ing)
  4. The Dragonwagon
  5. The Paper car
  6. The Backwards Car
  7. High-Heel Car
  8. 23rd Century Motors
  9. Balloon Car
  10. The Caterpillar Cab
  11. The Egg Car
  12. Hot Dog Car
  13. The Sloppy-Floppy Nonstop-Jalopy
  14. Grass Taxi
  15. The Love Car
  16. The Banana Split Car
  17. The Supersonic Ionic Car
  18. The Rubber Band Car

These quirky, inventive poems, masterfully illustrated with highly detailed artwork is a delight to read to every child. A unique book of poems!

Find it here: Library, Amazon, Bette World Books


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I Am Abraham Lincoln

I Am Abraham Lincoln
by Brad Meltzer (Author), Christopher Eliopoulos (Illustrator)

 “We can ALL be heroes!”

New York Times bestselling author Brad Meltzer’s series of Ordinary people changing the world is one of a kind. Known for his popular adult thrillers, Brad Meltzer now enters the children’s Non Fiction genre with his new series for kids on “everyday heroes”. In his interview at Comic Book Resources, Meltzer discusses the need to change the perception of “hero” from a star personality to people who made a difference in the lives of many.

The book “I Am Abraham Lincoln” opens with Abraham Lincoln as a child. We read about Lincoln as a boy who loved to read. Kids were expected to help their parents out in the farms and the fields. Lincoln was always caught reading!

I am Abraham Lincoln inside2

The books continues to show Abraham Lincoln at playtime. Once he finds the neighborhood kids “playing” around animals. With great empathy he put a stop to the cruelty. When the same kids gang up on him, Lincoln stands firm.

I am Abraham Lincoln inside1

With simple to understand language and absolutely delightful illustrations, the author/illustrator duo demonstrate characteristics that made these “everyday heroes”. The author highlights how Lincoln perceived cheating as unfair, how hurting animals was wrong and how important it was to stand up simply because it was the right thing to do. The picture book further walks through Lincoln’s work in ending slavery.

I am Abraham Lincoln inside3

Christopher Eliopoulos does a brilliant job on artwork. Drawn in “Peanuts/Calvin Hobbes” style, Eliopoulos’ art work immediately draws the reader in. The cartoon style art and call out bubble dialogues capture the essence of the characters and adds the fun factor to story telling.

What really surprised me was how the author who wrote Super Hero comic book stories transitioned into heroes of a different kind. We read this one over and over again. “I am Amelia Earhart” was another great read. Looking forward to the third in the series “I am Rosa Parks” releasing later this year. Our favorite part in this series, hands down, was the ending page.. a message from each of these characters that truly describe what they were at heart.

I am Amelia Earhart (1/14/14) by Brad Meltzer, Christopher Eliopoulos

 Educational and inspiring, this is a MUST have series. Like Meltzer, I really believe we need to inspire our children to become heroes not just “famous personalities”

Find it here: Library, Amazon, Better World Books


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Volcano Rising

Volcano Rising
by Elizabeth Rusch (Author), Susan Swan (Illustrator) 

Destructive? Not quite!

Volcano Rising is a non-fiction picture book where Rusch and Swan demonstrate that volcanoes do not just destroy. Elizabeth Rusch explores volcanoes in a fresh new perspective, explaining how they can be the best thing to happen for new life. We often read about volcanoes as being destructive, noisy or violent. Elizabeth Rusch shows us the other side of the coin.

Volcano Rising Underwater

Volcano Rising Underwater

“Volcano Rising” opens with a colorful “Pow” and “Spurt” of a live volcano bursting lava into the air. The book goes on to describe super volcanoes of Yellowstone, undersea volcanoes and the crater creation of Paricutin in Mexico. While the author opens with a destructive scene, she focuses more on the creative power of the volcanoes. Rusch explains how the bursting of volcanoes creates new lands, islands and mountains where none existed before. Rusch explains how ashes from the after effects actually help farmers to fertilize their fields.

Volcano Rising Jacket

What really caught my eye is the arrangement and use of text in this book. The bold first words and lines of the text is intended for younger readers, whereas a more detailed secondary text gives in-depth information for mature readers or for read alouds. This was a clever way of capturing multiple age-groups and keeping kids interested for longer.

VolcanoRising_6-7_300_website

Packed with information, Volcano Rising is made even more dramatic by Susan Swams artwork. Susan uses hand painted pages, digital paintings and scans and combines them with bold lines and colors. This mixed media collage illustrations work superbly in the context of volcanoes. Vivid, bright colors truly capture the bold mountains and mighty powerful burst of volcanoes. The book also has a wonderful glossary and useful resources for those who want to know more.

A wonderful book to add to your home or school library!

Find it here: Library, Amazon, Better World Books


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The Boy Who Loved Math

The Boy Who Loved Math
By Deborah Heligman (Author), LeUyen Pham (Illustrator)

The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos

This is a picture book biography of the famous mathematician Paul Erdos. Heligman/Pham explore Erdos’ life and work around Math.

Paul Erdos was only four when he realized that he loved numbers. Paul played with numbers in his head almost all the time. As a child he would add them and subtract them. Once he subtracted a rather large number from a smaller number and realized that the answer was a negative number. And Paul thought that was super cool!

The Boy who Loved Math Negative Num

As a child Paul did not work well with rules. There were rules with his nanny and rules at school. Soon enough Paul’s mama realized that school was not the best fit for him. So she decided to stay home and coach him, along with a little help from the nanny.

And while Paul “played” and learned his numbers at home, his mother and nanny cut his meat, buttered his toast and got him dressed. This was perfect! Now Paul could think of numbers all day long!

Paul loved numbers! Most of all he loved Prime Numbers. They fascinated him. He worked on them for a long time. Soon Paul had to go to high school. And this time, he really liked it there. He found that he made many friends, people who loved numbers just as much as he did. And by the time he was 20, Paul became very famous for his skills and knowledge in math.

The Boy who Loved Math Prime Num

So Paul travelled the world. He showed other famous mathematicians what he knew about numbers. He solved many difficult problems and taught many new things. And while the famous Math Magician could do some very difficult math, he still needed his toast buttered, his meat cut and his laundry done!

The Boy who Loved Math is an excellent picture book biography. It is probably THE perfect picture book biography that I have read in a long time. Here is why:

Heligman draws the character of Paul Erdos in his full brilliance and eccentricity. While she describes him to be a genius, she does not hide the fact that Erdos had difficulty in doing simple things in life. At the same time, she helps guide the reader to how he survived and thrived despite his little shortcomings.

In doing so, Heligman sends a powerful message to young readers. That is ok to be different.

This book is also about Paul Erdos’ math. Through brilliant and well researched illustration work, Heligman and Pham demonstrate that Math can be fun and exciting. The picture book is filled with illustrations of numbers and games, sequences and puzzles. The end notes include a detailed description page by page of what Math nuggets one can “find” on each of the pages.

Finally, this book is a celebrations of a life which was complex and difficult to explain. Heligman and Pham worked as a team to create this wonderful memoir. Their big win was take Paul Erdos’ life and make it approachable and understood for the youngest of readers!

An achievement indeed!

Find it here: Library, Amazon, Better World Books


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Look Up! Bird-Watching in Your Own Backyard

Look Up! Bird-Watching in Your Own Backyard
by Annette LeBlanc Cate (Author, Illustrator)

This year I had the AWESOME privilege to be on the panel of judges for the Cybils Children’s and Young Adult Boggers’ Literary Awards (www.cybils.com). The Cybils panelist’s intention is to reward children’s and YA authors and illustrators “whose books combine the highest literary merit and kid appeal”. Besides this, it allows us, seriously addictive bloggers, to hang out together for a little while. The awards are announced (appropriately) on Valentine’s Day every year!

Cybils Logo Large 2013

This year I volunteered and judged on the Non Fiction genre, my favorite of all! We had some terrific books to read through and the competition for the top spot was tough. “Look Up! Bird Watching in Your Own Backyard” took the top spot! Here’s why:

Review

“You don’t have to go anywhere fancy to watch birds!” And it seems you don’t need to know their fancy Latin names either! What about binoculars? Do you really need one?

Annette LeBlanc Cate’s “Look Up! Bird Watching in Your Own Backyard” invites you into your own backyard to look up and around and spot some birds. But before you begin, she gives us a useful list of Bird Watching Do’s and Don’ts, what Not to bring with you and what you need to make this activity useful and fun.

Look Up Bird Watching Dos and Donts

Look up! is not a run-of-the-mill guide for bird watching. With its tongue-in-cheek cartoon illustrations, friendly banter between birds of various kinds and conversational and humorous verse, this “guide” book presents various facets of bird watching to readers.

For example, Annette uses this handy “Rainbow of Color” chart for quickly identifying birds just by knowing what color group they belong to.

Look Up Bird Watching rainbow of birds

Or this “Shapes” guide, which you could use for sketching out birds when you are out bird watching.

Look Up Bird Watching drawing

And if you ever so venture out to other places specifically for bird watching, then one would notice different birds at different places. For example, the roadrunners thrive in a desert environment and one can learn very much about what it likes to eat and how it survives by observing its natural habitat.

Look Up Bird Watching habitat

We loved “Look Up! Bird Watching in Your Own Backyard” for so many reasons. I have to admit that I have never ever considered bird watching as an entertaining or educational activity. However, from the time I picked up this book, I was hooked! The friendly conversational style writing, the easy to read comic book style illustrations and the engaging information kept me going. Each of its busy pages presents information in form of charts or maps or comic strips. The humorous dialogues from the birds breaks up the tempo and keeps the book from becoming a monotonous “how to” guide. Annette Le Blanc Cate’s passion for drawing and bird watching comes together in a brilliantly executed book, accessible and entertaining for every age group!

At the end, this book is not just for budding ornithologists! Anyone who has an appreciation for nature and art will delight in this book.

Highly engaging and loads of fun! This book is a HIT! 

Find it here: Library, Amazon, Better World Books


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The Invisible Boy

The Invisible Boy
by Trudy Ludwig (Author), Patrice Barton (Illustrator)

Poignant!

Brian feels invisible. His teacher hardly notices him as she is busy with other more noisy kids of the class. At lunch, he sits alone to eat his food. At recess his friends don’t include him any games they play. So Brian finds something he can do all by himself. He draws. He does it at recess and in the class exercises. He gets lost in his little world of pirates and space aliens and superheroes.

The Invisible Boy invisible

One day a new boy Justin joins his class. Brian hopes desperately that Justin and he could be friends. Justin is different too. He eats a Korean dish called Bulgogi and promptly gets laughed and teased at by others. Feeling sorry for the new boy, Brian sends him a small note with a neat drawing of himself eating Bulgogi. It says “Justin, I thought the bulgogi looked good. Brian.”

The Invisible Boy note

Later that day, Justin and Brian get together for a class project and they do a great job at it too. It seems to Brian finally, that he is no longer “invisible”!

The Invisible Boy Justin project

What at first seems to be a simple story about bullying and classroom dynamics is really a wonderfully narrated and brilliantly illustrated picture book. Ludwig’s story tells of how simple acts of kindness and inclusiveness can help children to flourish.

Barton cleverly uses pencil sketch illustration to work through the emotions that Brian is feeling. One notices in the beginning of the story that Brian is colored and sketched in shades of gray, whereas the rest of the world around him are colored in bright colors, thus, highlighting the “invisibility” theme of the story. But as the story moves and Brian starts to feel more comfortable and included, color seems to creep into Brian. Finally he is revealed in full color.

What I liked the most is the how perfect this book is as a read aloud in a classroom. During our session, kids immediately noticed the graphic difference between Brian and the rest if the kids. Kids (surprisingly) immediately could tell what “The Invisible Boy” title really meant (that he is not really invisible, just not noticed). And as the story progressed there were strong empathetic comments shared by the kids.

Ludwig and Barton’s “The invisible Boy” is a great addition to any school library. There is a page full of Questions for Discussions for parents and teachers alike. On a final note, the author includes recommended reading for both adults and kids.

A truly poignant book on classroom relationships. This one is a MUST READ!

Find it here: Library, Amazon


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Xander’s Panda Party

Xander’s Panda Party
by Linda Sue Park (Author), Matt Phelan (Illustrator)

How to host the Perfect Party!

Panda planned to throw a party. He makes invitations and decides to send them to all his “Bear” friends at the zoo. But Koala objects! She is not a bear.. can she still come to Xander panda’s party?

Xander's Panda Party Invitation to Bears

 

Xander's Panda Party Koala

Xander was not sure what to do? So he thinks really hard. Finally Xander decides to expand his guest list Smile And invite more animals!

Xander's Panda Party inside

However, Rhino has a slight problem. He won’t come without his bird. Well, Xander does not want to disappoint and feels really blue. What to do? He thinks and thinks some more. Then he has a brilliant idea! And makes fresh NEW invitations. Its time to invite ALL birds and ALL mammals at the zoo to his party Smile

With the help of his new friend Amanda Salamander, Xander arranges a fun party for everyone at the zoo. The party is in full swing when a truck arrives. At the back, there is a large wooden crate. Who could it possibly be? Smile

There is SO much going on this lovely picture book Xanders Panda Party. The verse rhymes but without a childish feel so that it keeps older kids reading. As a matter of fact the language introduces wonderful new combinations of rhymes.

“Xander felt a little blue.

He chewed bamboo, a stalk or two.

He fidgeted and paced the floor, then scratched an itch and paced some more.

Finally, a firm decision: Xander’s brand-new party vision!”

OR

“From her tree Koala hollered, ‘Xander, I am not a bear.’ 

Xander didn’t understand her.

‘Koala Bear, you’re not a bear?’

He stared at her in consternation.
‘Sorry for the complication.

I know I’m called Koala Bear.but I am not a bear, I swear.

I am a marsupial. Marsupials –we’re rather rare.

Will I not be welcome there?'”

Apart from the unique rhyme for verse, Xanders Panda Party has a hidden learning agenda. Remember the technique of sorting, grouping, classifying and ordering? Through clever story telling, Linda Sue Park introduces the idea of grouping animals in various ways.

Yet another theme is the theme of inclusion. While Xander ponders over who to invite, one is engaged in the idea that all animals tall and small, feathered or not, are invited and included in Xander’s party.

Clever execution, wonderful learning, and absolutely wonderful/engaging art work! This picture books is a perfect 10!

Find it here: Library, Amazon, Better World Books


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