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.

Books, Holidays

Perfect Picture Book Friday: Uncles and Antlers

TITLE: Uncles and Antlers

AUTHOR: Lisa Wheeler

ILLUSTRATOR: Brian Floca

PUBLICATION INFO: Simon and Schuster’s Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2004

ISBN: 978-0689864698

SOURCE: Library

INTENDED AUDIENCE: ages 3-6

GENRE: picture book (fiction)

OPENING and SYNOPSIS:

“Seven uncles, every year,

seven uncles travel here —

shaggy coats , scarves of red,

two tall antlers on each head.”

Join seven wacky reindeer uncles and their favorite niece in this adorable Christmas counting book. Whatever could those reindeer be up to?

THEMES/TOPICS: counting, Christmas, holidays

WHY I LIKE THIS BOOK: I happened upon this book at our local library while stocking up for our advent book basket. Brian Floca is one of my favorite nonfiction author/illustrators, and Lisa Wheeler is a perennial favorite (DINO HOCKEY, anyone?). This book is a fun way to work a little counting practice into the Christmas season.

RESOURCES/ACTIVITIES:

  • Lisa Wheeler offers a link to reindeer crafts on her site.
  • Older children might enjoy learning more about reindeer in this reindeer investigation.
  • Have you tried making some reindeer food for Christmas Eve?
  • How about singing “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer?”

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: ZERO THE HERO

TITLE: ZERO THE HERO

AUTHOR: Joan Holub

ILLUSTRATOR: Ton Lichtenheld

PUBLICATION INFO: Henry Holt / Christy Ottaviano Books, February 2012

ISBN: 978-0805093841

SOURCE: Library

INTENDED AUDIENCE: 6 and up, but my four-year-old things this is hilarious

GENRE: picture book (fiction)

OPENING and SYNOPSIS: “Unlike most numbers, Zero believed himself to be a hero. He just needed a chance to prove it.”

From the publisher: “Zero. Zip. Zilch. Nada. That’s what all the other numbers think of Zero. He doesn’t add anything in addition. He’s of no use in division. And don’t even ask what he does in multiplication. (Hint: Poof!) But Zero knows he’s worth a lot, and when the other numbers get into trouble, he swoops in to prove that his talents are innumerable.”

THEMES/TOPICS: math, counting

WHY I LIKE THIS BOOK: Rarely do my boys find a book to be laugh-out-loud funny. This book has a lot going for it — a caped superhero, a fight with the Roman (numerals), comic-book comedy and lots of puns. We can’t read this at naptime or bedtime without having a 10-minute conversation about math. In fact, Finley (age 4) walked out of his bedroom after I put him to bed last night to let me know that 1+0 = 1. I am buying this book.

If you need more convincing, check out the book trailer.

RESOURCES/ACTIVITIES:

  • The publisher has a teacher’s guide on its Web site.
  • BainPop has this helpful lesson on addition and subtraction, which includes zero’s special properties.
  • The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics uses macaroni to explore math concepts including our hero, Zero.

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.

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Books, Science/Math

Perfect Picture Book Friday: The Beetle Book

TITLE: THE BEETLE BOOK

AUTHOR/ILLUSTRATOR: Steve Jenkins

PUBLICATION INFO: Houghton Mifflin, April 2012

ISBN: 978-0-547-68084-2

SOURCE: Library

INTENDED AUDIENCE: 4 and up, though this is more appropriate for elementary-school students

GENRE: picture book (nonfiction)

OPENING and SYNOPSIS: “Line up every kind of plant and animal on Earth … and one of every four will be a beetle.”

Beloved author/illustrator Steve Jenkins crafts an encyclopedic book about beetles.

THEMES/TOPICS: science, beetles, bugs/insects

WHY I LIKE THIS BOOK: Steve Jenkins’s illustrations reveal the beauty and diversity of the humble beetle. Unlike many of his other books, there is no narrative line, and he does not rely on layered text. This is a book to be savored, one spread at a time rather than read all at once.

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, Science/Math

Perfect Picture Book Friday: ON THE MOON

TITLE: ON THE MOON

AUTHOR: Anna Milbourne

ILLUSTRATOR: Benji Davies

PUBLICATION INFO: Usbourne, 2006

ISBN: 978-0794506179

SOURCE: Personal library

INTENDED AUDIENCE: 4 and up (Publisher), but I think children as young as 2 would enjoy this.

GENRE: picture book (fiction)

OPENING and SYNOPSIS: “The Moon is very, very far away. What do you think it would be like to go there?” A young girl takes a trip to the Moon in this fantastic journey.

THEMES/TOPICS: space exploration, moon, astronauts, solar system

WHY I LIKE THIS BOOK: Although this book is fiction, the author intersperses lots of facts into the narrative. For example, telling children how long it would take to reach the Moon and sharing about the atmosphere (no air here!). I also appreciate that this book is appropriate for the youngest readers. Even a toddler who can recognize the Moon in the sky would enjoy this simple tale.

RESOURCES/ACTIVITIES:

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

 

Books, Geography

Perfect Picture Book Friday: THE HATSELLER AND THE MONKEYS

Author/Illustrator: Baba Wague Diakite
Publication Info: Scholastic Press, 1999
ISBN: 978-0590960694
Source: Library
Intended audience: ages 4 and up
Genre: picture book (fiction)
Themes/topics: folk tales, fables, Mali, monkeys, cleverness, tricksters
Opening and synopsis: ”BaMusa the hatseller was a joyful man. He traveled from town to town selling hats, which he piled high on his head.”
Eager to sell hats at the festival, BaMusa sets off without breakfast. Tired and hungry, he lies down for a nap, and clever monkeys steal his hats. BaMusa must figure out how to get them back.
Why I like this book: CAPS FOR SALE by Esphyr Slobodkina is a family favorite. I had no idea that its source was a folk tale that is told in many countries, including Mali. This is the same story set in Mali and illustrated with beautiful ceramic-tile paintings. I also appreciate that this telling of the story emphasizes that BaMusa had not eaten breakfast, so he didn’t have energy and couldn’t think clearly. He can only figure out what to do after he’s eaten. My favorite quote from the book is, “It is with a full stomach that one thinks best.”
Resources/activities: 
  • Diakite includes and author’s note with the history of the folktale, as well as a list of other versions of this tale, including CAPS FOR SALE.
  • Reading to Kids has discussion ideas and a couple of craft suggestions, including making hats or drawing a picture of a saying your mom says.
  • A full lesson plan, including step-by-step hat-making instructions, are at Easy Literacy.
  • Children can learn more about Mali on National Geographic’s site.

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, History

Perfect Picture Book Friday: The Wall

Author/Illustrator: Peter Sis
Publication Info: Macmillan’s Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-374-34701-7
Source: Personal collection
Intended audience: ages 8 and up
Genre: picture book (nonfiction)
Themes/topics: world history, communism, the Cold War, the Iron Curtain, Czechoslovakia, autobiography
Opening and synopsis: “As long as he could remember, he had loved to draw. At first he drew shapes. Then he drew people. After drawing whatever he wanted to at home, he drew what he was told at school.”
This multi-layered, picture-book autobiography recounts Peter Sis’s life growing up in communist Czechoslovakia. Sis writes the main narrative in simple sentences. However, he rings that simple narrative with drawings, captions, excerpts from his journals and historical timeline information.
Why I like this book: This book was a library-book-sale find. I lived in West Germany when The Wall crumbled, and so Sis’s story spoke to me. Later I found out this book is a Caldecott honor book and earned starred reviews upon publication. I definitely think this book is for upper elementary students. The topics of communism, the Cold War and the Iron Curtain are certainly too complex for young readers. However, this book would be a wonderful way to explore how children experienced communism first-hand.
Resources/activities: 
  • A teacher’s guide is available here.
  • Multimedia resources including an author interview about the book are available on here.
  • The New York Times’s Learning Network has a number of Cold War resources.
  • Teachers Pay Teachers has several free lesson plans and other resources.

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

Perfect Picture Book Friday: COUNT ON CULEBRA

Author: Ann Whitford Paul
Illustrator: Ethan Long
Publication Info: Holiday House, 2008
ISBN: 978-0823421244
Source: Library copy
Intended audience: ages 4 and up
Genre: picture book (fiction)
Themes/topics: Friendship, language learning
Opening and synopsis: ”Iguana stumbled on a stone.
‘OWWWWWWWWWWW!’ she cried.
Tortuga poked out of his shell. ‘What’s wrong?’”
Iguana stubs her toe on a rock. There is no way she can make her cactus butter candies now. But Culebra has a plan that will have her feeling better in no time. But the friends will need un rolling pin, dos kettles and much, much more.
Why I like this book: I normally feature nonfiction books on Perfect Picture Book Fridays. However, this series has become quite popular in our house, and this book is the hands-down favorite. My three-year-old thinks Culebra’s antics are hilarious. He loves to count along in Spanish too. I appreciate the fact that the Spanish words are woven seamlessly into the text. Children can decipher the meaning from the text itself, though a glossary is included.
Resources/activities: 
  • Find Ann Whitford Paul’s classroom activities here.
  • The book itself has a recipe for dulces made with butter, peanut butter, graham crackers and powdered sugar. Yum!

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, History, Homeschool

Perfect Picture Book Friday: Tutankhamun

Author/Illustrator: Demi
Publication Info: Marshall Cavendish, 2009
ISBN: 9780761455585
Source: Library copy
Intended audience: ages 9 and up
Genre: nonfiction, picture book (64 pages)
Themes/topics: Egypt, mummies, world history
Opening and synopsis: ”King Thutmose IV, who ruled from 1419 to 1386 BCE, was the great-grandfather of King Tutankhamun. As a young prince, Thutmose IV had many brothers and half-brothers who wanted to seize the throne.”
Illustrated with stunning images, this book places King Tut in his cultural and religious context. Demi tells of Tut’s ancestors, his life and tomb. Tut emerged as pharaoh at an interesting time in history. Inspired by Thutmose IV’s vision, Tut’s father, Akhenaten, did away with worship of traditional Egyptian gods in favor of monotheism. When Tut came to power, political strife ensued as two regents wrestled for control. After Tut’s death, his ultimate successor tried to erase Tut’s family from history forever. But he couldn’t destroy Tut’s hidden tomb.
Why I like this book: As obsessed as my three-year-old is with mummies, we actually knew little about King Tut’s life. Although the story line is far too advanced for preschoolers, Demi’s images can be appreciated by all ages. She’s gilded many of the images, conveying the wealth of ancient Egypt and the pharaohs.
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, Science/Math

Perfect Picture Book Friday: THE MIGHTY MARS ROVERS

Author: Elizabeth Rusch
Illustrator: NASA!
Publication Info: Houghton’s Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-547-47881-4
Source: Library copy
Intended audience: ages 9 and up
Genre: nonfiction, picture book (80 pages)
Themes/topics: Mars, space, science
Opening and synopsis: “Are Martians real? As silly as it may seem, this question has driven Mars exploration for decades. People all over the world yearn to know: Is there life on Mars? If not, has there ever been life on Mars?”
As part of the “Scientists in the Field” series, Rusch follows the development of the Spirit and Opportunity Mars rovers, as well as their years of exploration on Mars.
Why I like this book: Other wonderful books about the Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity exist, notably Alexandra Siy’s CARS ON MARS. However, Rusch focuses much of her book on the team behind the Spirit and Opportunity Mars rovers. She shines the spotlight on Steven Squyres, the principal science investigator, who dreamed up the rovers as “rolling geologists.” It was Squyres’s sheer grit and determination that brought this mission to fruition, after NASA turned down his proposals for eight years. Rusch shows how scientists see the rovers as extensions of themselves on Mars, truly as “scientists in the field.” Rusch also previews the Curiosity rover, which landed on the Red Planet last month, kicking off a planned two-year mission.
Resources/activities: NASA has some incredible Web sites, games and resources for all things Mars.

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.