Books

9 Books Celebrating Comic Creators for #NationalComicBookDay

It’s National Comic Book Day! Today we celebrate comic books and all the writers and artists, who create them.

According to the National Day Calendar, the first hardcover comic book was The Adventures of Obadiah Oldbuck, which was published in 1842. The first modern-day comic book didn’t appear until 1933, Famous Funnies, a reprint of several comic strips. Of course, comic books really came into their own during World War II, with superheroes like Superman, Batman, and my favorite, Wonder Woman. To learn more about the history of comic books, check out this post from Book Riot.

Today, I’m celebrating National Comic Book Day with a nine books highlighting the accomplishments of comic book creators.

Picture Books

A True Wonder Book Cover

A TRUE WONDER: The Comic Book Hero Who Changed Everything by Kirsten W. Larson, illustrated by Katy Wu

With Great Power Book

WITH GREAT POWER: The Marvelous Stan Lee by Annie Hunter Eriksen, illustrated by Lee Gatlin

Boys of Steel Book Cover

BOYS OF STEEL: The Creators of Superman by Marc Tyler Nobleman, illustrated by Ross Macdonald

Bill: The Boy Wonder cover

BILL: The Boy Wonder by Marc Tyler Nobleman, illustrated by Ty Templeton

Jack Kirby book cover

JACK KIRBY: Creator & Artist by Sue Hamilton

Independent Readers

The Story of Stan Lee cover

THE STORY OF STAN LEE: A Biography for New Readers by Frank J. Berrios

Who Was Stan Lee? cover

WHO WAS STAN LEE? by Geoff Edgers

What Is the Story of Batman? cover

WHAT IS THE STORY OF BATMAN? by Michael Burgan

What is the Story of Wonder Woman? cover

WHAT IS THE STORY OF WONDER WOMAN? by Steve Korte

Books, News

Sneak Peek: FIRE OF STARS Talk for Harvard’s Project Phaedra

This is an picture of the Fall Author Series line up.

Want a sneak peek at my Fall 2022 title, THE FIRE OF STARS with illustrator Katherine Roy (Chronicle Books)? We’ll be chatting about our inspiration, research, and more with Harvard/The Smithsonian as part of Project Phaedra’s Fall Author Series Sept. 14.

What’s Project Phaedra? According to their website: “Project PHaEDRA is an initiative by the Wolbach Library, in collaboration with many partners, to catalog, digitize, transcribe, and enrich the metadata of over 2500 logbooks and notebooks produced by the Harvard computers and early Harvard astronomers. Our goal is to ensure that this remarkable set of items, created by a remarkable group of people, is as accessible and useful as possible.”

These notebooks include those of astrophysicist Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin, the subject of THE FIRE OF STARS.

This event is free and open to the public. And it’s ONLINE. Sign up to join us here.

Books, Science/Math

PPBF: Blue On Blue

blueonbluecover1

TITLE: BLUE ON BLUE

AUTHOR: Dianne White

ILLUSTRATOR: Beth Krommes

PUBLICATION INFO: Beach Lane Books (2014)

ISBN:9781442412675

SOURCE: library

INTENDED AUDIENCE: grades K-3

GENRE: picture book

OPENING and SYNOPSIS:

“Cotton clouds.

Morning light.

Blue on blue.

White on white.”

From the publisher: “Discover the joys of a wild rainstorm in this poetic picture book, illustrated by a Caldecott Medalist.

Join a farming family as they experience the full range of a thrilling seaside thunderstorm—from the wild wind and the very first drops; to the pouring, pouring rain; to the wonderful messy mud after the sun returns!

With gentle, rhyming text and vivid artwork from a Caldecott Medal–winning illustrator, this sublime depiction of nature’s patterns turns a storm into a celebration.”

THEMES/TOPICS: weather

WHY I LIKE THIS BOOK: Dianne White’s rhythmic text builds and bursts just like the thunderstorm it depicts. Beth Krommes’s illustrations add an additional layer to the story, showing the reaction of a girl and farm animals to the storm. Young children will love the rhythm and rhyme. In the classroom, teachers can use the book to discuss weather patterns.

RESOURCES/ACTIVITIES:

You’ll find way more cool books at Susanna Leonard Hill’s “Perfect Picture Books.” Every Friday folks review a host of new books. Join us!

Uncategorized

PPBF: Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors?

TITLE:  Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors?

AUTHOR: Tanya Lee Stone

ILLUSTRATOR: Marjorie Priceman

PUBLICATION INFO: Henry Holt/Christy Ottaviano, 2013

ISBN: 9780805090482

SOURCE: library

INTENDED AUDIENCE: ages 4 and up

GENRE: nonfiction picture book

OPENING and SYNOPSIS:

“I’ll bet you’ve met plenty of doctors in your life. And I’ll bet lots of them were women. Well, you might find this hard to believe, but there once was a time when girls weren’t allowed to be doctors.”

From the publisher:

“In the 1830s, when a brave and curious girl named Elizabeth Blackwell was growing up, women were supposed to be wives and mothers. Some women could be teachers or seamstresses, but career options were few. Certainly no women were doctors.

But Elizabeth refused to accept the common beliefs that women weren’t smart enough to be doctors, or that they were too weak for such hard work. And she would not take no for an answer. Although she faced much opposition, she worked hard and finally—when she graduated from medical school and went on to have a brilliant career—proved her detractors wrong. This inspiring story of the first female doctor shows how one strong-willed woman opened the doors for all the female doctors to come.”

THEMES/TOPICS: science, biography

WHY I LIKE THIS BOOK: Tanya Lee Stone’s voice is pitch perfect in this book. She writes in a zippy, irreverent tone that’s a perfect match for Elizabeth’s personality and Priceman’s illustrations. Stone proves that picture book biographies don’t have to be stuffy, even if the protagonist hails from the 1800s.

RESOURCES/ACTIVITIES:

  • What child doesn’t like to pretend to be a doctor? Fisher-Price offers this classic.
  • A readers’ guide and alignment to Common Core State Standards guide is available through Stone’s Web site.
  • ReadWriteThink offers an Elizabeth Blackwell classroom activity.

You’ll find way more cool books at Susanna Leonard Hill’s “Perfect Picture Books.” Every Friday folks review a host of new books. Join us!

Books

PPBF: The Streak

thestreaklg

TITLE:  The Streak: How Joe DiMaggio Became America’s Hero

AUTHOR: Barb Rosenstock

ILLUSTRATOR: Terry Widener

PUBLICATION INFO: Calkins Creek, 2014

ISBN: 9781590789926

SOURCE: library

INTENDED AUDIENCE: ages 8 and up

GENRE: nonfiction picture book

OPENING and SYNOPSIS:

“It all started quietly, like a conversation with Joe DiMaggio himself.”

From the publisher:

“In the summer of 1941, Yankee center fielder Joe DiMaggio and his favorite bat, Betsy Ann, begin the longest hitting streak in baseball history. But when Betsy Ann goes missing, will DiMaggio keep hitting? Set on the brink of World War II, this is a spellbinding account of a sports story that united the country and made DiMaggio a hero, at a time when one was profoundly needed. Barb Rosenstock’s action-packed text and Terry Widener’s powerful illustrations capture DiMaggio’s drive as well as his frustration. The book also includes headlines, quotes, stats, and a detailed bibliography.”

THEMES/TOPICS: history, biography, sports

WHY I LIKE THIS BOOK: I’m taking a course on picture book pacing right now. Pacing, speeding up and slowing down the reader to build tension, is something I really struggle with in my own writing. To help, I’ve been studying pacing by reading LOTS and LOTS of nonfiction picture books. Though I love all of Barb Rosenstock’s books, this is perhaps the best I’ve seen when it comes to pacing. She uses vivid verbs, as well as repetition. The word “streak” is used throughout, printed in red, like the crowd’s chant. Sometimes, Rosenstock repeats the word three times in a row for more emphasis: “streak, streak, streak.” Rosenstock also uses numbers to help build tension, driving the reader forward, as in “28, 29, 30 games.” All in all, this book is a dramatic read.

RESOURCES/ACTIVITIES:

You’ll find way more cool books at Susanna Leonard Hill’s “Perfect Picture Books.” Every Friday folks review a host of new books. Join us!

Books

PPBF: The Poppy Lady

Poppy Lady

With fall upon us, it’s time to hit the books again — the Perfect Picture Books, that is.

TITLE:  THE POPPY LADY: MOINA BELLE MICHAEL AND HER TRIBUTE TO VETERANS

AUTHOR: Barbara Walsh

ILLUSTRATOR: Layne Johnson

PUBLICATION INFO: Calkins Creek, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-59078-754-0

SOURCE: library

INTENDED AUDIENCE: ages 7 to 11

GENRE: nonfiction picture book biography

OPENING and SYNOPSIS:

“Moina Belle Michael looked forward to summer vacation when she returned home from her third year of boarding school in 1885.”

From the publisher:

“When American soldiers entered World War I, Moina Belle Michael, a schoolteacher from Georgia, knew she had to act. Some of the soldiers were her students and friends. Almost single-handedly, Moina worked to establish the red poppy as the symbol to honor and remember soldiers. And she devoted the rest of her life to making sure the symbol would last forever. Thanks to her hard work, that symbol remains strong today. Author Barbara Elizabeth Walsh and artist Layne Johnson worked with experts, primary documents, and Moina’s great-nieces to better understand Moina’s determination to honor the war veterans.”

THEMES/TOPICS: history, biography

WHY I LIKE THIS BOOK: I’ve used this book as a mentor text to help me shape a “slice of life” picture book biography I’m writing. Walsh’s use of a prologue to give readers a glimpse into Moina Belle’s girlhood is an effective technique for this type of biography. Walsh uses rhetorical questions and a repetitive phrase drives the pacing and page turns. Finally, Walsh has let Moina Belle’s voice shine through by incorporating her quotes throughout the main text. But this book isn’t just a must-read for writers. My seven-year-old snatched it out of the book return pile. He gives it two thumbs up too!

As a bonus part of the book’s proceeds go to the National Military Family Association’s Operation Purple®, to help children of the U.S. military.

RESOURCES/ACTIVITIES:

  • A teacher’s guide is available through Walsh’s Web site.
  • BBC One has a children’s World War I Web site with age-appropriate materials.
  • Veterans’ Day is Nov. 11th. Why not find a way to honor a veteran or active service member. Children can write letters to soldiers and send them through A Million Thanks or send packages through Any Soldier.

You’ll find way more cool books at Susanna Leonard Hill’s “Perfect Picture Books.” Every Friday folks review a host of new books. Join us!

Books, Education, Homeschool, Nature, Science/Math

Perfect Picture Book Friday: FROM SEED TO PLANT

Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book Fridays are back. I missed the boat last week, but I wrote my post early this week so I wouldn’t forget.

TITLE: From Seed to Plant

AUTHOR/ILLUSTRATOR: Gail Gibbons

PUBLICATION INFO: Holiday House, 1991

ISBN: 978-0823410255

SOURCE:  library

INTENDED AUDIENCE: ages 5 and up

GENRE: nonfiction

OPENING and SYNOPSIS:

“Most plants make seeds. A seed contains the beginning of a new plant.”

Gibbons moves through a plant’s life cycle, showing children how seeds are formed through pollination, how they are dispersed, and how they grow into new plants.

THEMES/TOPICS: nonfiction, educational, nature, science

WHY I LIKE THIS BOOK: Cooper was working on a plant life cycle project for school this week, and we checked this book out from the library. Gail Gibbons is a nonfiction favorite in our house. She uses beautiful drawings and simple writing to explain science concepts in a way young children can understand.

RESOURCES/ACTIVITIES:

  • The book has a “Seed to Plant” activity in the back using bean seeds. It’s a different take on the classic bean sprout in a baggie activity used in many preschool classrooms.
  • We’ve also done seed collections before to spark discussion about the different types of seeds and how they are scattered. You’ll find that activity…here.
  • Finally, for older students, you can try the plant life cycle project that Cooper’s class did. Students had to collect five different types of seeds and draw or collect pictures that showed the seedling, mature plant, flower and fruit. They had to label each stage, and I had Cooper draw arrows so he could see that the whole cycle is a circle. I’ll blog about our project next week.

Every Friday bloggers review “Perfect Picture Books.” Find a complete list of book reviews organized by topic, genre and blogger at author Susanna Leonard Hill’s site.

Books, Science/Math

Perfect Picture Book Friday: ALL THE WATER IN THE WORLD

TITLE: ALL THE WATER IN THE WORLD

AUTHOR: George Ella Lyon

ILLUSTRATOR: Katherine Tillotson

PUBLICATION INFO: Atheneum/Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing, 2011

ISBN: 978-1416971306

SOURCE: Library

INTENDED AUDIENCE: grades pre-K through 2nd

GENRE: nonfiction picture book

OPENING and SYNOPSIS:

“All the water in the world … is all the water in the world.”

From the publisher’s Website:

“Faucet
well
raincloud
sea …

from each of these
comes water.

But where does
Water go?

To find out, honey,
turn the page,
dive in
with tongue
or toes,
with eyes and ears and nose—
and wonder
at the flow
of this great world’s
life story.”

THEMES/TOPICS: science, water cycle

WHY I LIKE THIS BOOK: This is my favorite kind of nonfiction picture book. Lyon’s voice is so strong and lyrical that children will be swept up in the poetry. They may not even realize that they are learning something until the end.

RESOURCES/ACTIVITIES:

  • George Ella Lyon provides a teacher’s guide on her site.
  • The EPA has this lesson plan on the water cycle for grades K-3 and 4-6.
  • The US Geological Survey has a cartoon infographic about the water cycle, here. They also have a graphic available as a placemat. Now you can think about the water cycle when you have a glass of water with dinner.
  • For grades 3-5, check out Scholastic’s Study Jams lesson plan on the water cycle.

Every Friday bloggers review “Perfect Picture Books.” Find a complete list of book reviews organized by topic, genre and blogger at author Susanna Leonard Hill’s site.

Books, Geography, Science/Math

Perfect Picture Book Friday: Island: A Story of the Galapagos

TITLE: ISLAND: A STORY OF THE GALAPAGOS

AUTHOR/ILLUSTRATOR: Jason Chin

PUBLICATION INFO: Roaring Book Press’s Neal Porter Books, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-59643-716-6

SOURCE: Library

INTENDED AUDIENCE: grades 2-4 (Booklist)

GENRE: picture book (nonfiction)

OPENING and SYNOPSIS:

“The sun is rising over a lonely group of islands more than six hundred miles away from the nearest continent.”

Jason Chin, author or REDWOODS and CORAL REEFS, chronicles the “life” of an island from birth six million years ago to old age, when it sinks beneath the sea. During its life, animals come to live on the island and change through natural selection. Chin’s back matter includes pieces about Charles Darwin and the Galapagos Islands.

THEMES/TOPICS: science, natural selection, geography

WHY I LIKE THIS BOOK: This was a bit of a departure from the Jason Chin books I’m familiar with. Normally, he offers a fictional storyline “told” through the illustrations, matched with encyclopedic text. Here, he maps an island’s development to a human life cycle. Illustrations depict the story told within the text.

RESOURCES/ACTIVITIES:

Every Friday bloggers review “Perfect Picture Books.” Find a complete list of book reviews organized by topic, genre and blogger at author Susanna Leonard Hill’s site.

Books, Holidays

Perfect Picture Book Friday: Llama, Llama Holiday Drama

TITLE: Llama, Llama Holiday Drama

AUTHOR/ILLUSTRATOR: Anna Dewdney

PUBLICATION INFO: Penguin’s Viking, 2010

ISBN: 978-0670011612

SOURCE: Personal library

INTENDED AUDIENCE: ages 3+

GENRE: picture book (fiction)

OPENING and SYNOPSIS:

“Llama Llama holidays.

Jingle music. Lights ablaze.”

All the watching and waiting for ONE DAY, sends little Llama into a tantrum. Will Mama help Llama remember what the holiday season is all about?

THEMES/TOPICS: Christmas, holidays, family

WHY I LIKE THIS BOOK: This is hands-down one of my favorite Christmas books. I tend to get overloaded during the holiday season with baking, parties, Christmas pageants and shopping. Occasionally I find myself in a Llama-like tantrum. This book always reminds me to slow down and give my loved ones a snuggle.

RESOURCES/ACTIVITIES:

  • Why not bake some Christmas cookies with your little ones and share them with family and friends?
  • Make some snowflakes and tape them on the window just like Llama Llama.
  • Llama Llama makes a candle jar. Here are some great gifts you and your little ones can make out of jars.
  • Anna Dewdney’s site has printables from the book.
  • Take time out for a snuggle.

Every Friday bloggers review “Perfect Picture Books.” Find a complete list of book reviews organized by topic, genre and blogger at author Susanna Leonard Hill’s site.