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.

Books, Geography, History, Homeschool

Perfect Picture Book Friday: Mummies, Pyramids, and Pharoahs

Title: Mummies, Pyramids, and Pharaohs

Author/Illustrator: Gail Gibbons

Publication Info: Little, Brown and Company, 2004
Intended audience: preschool and up
Genre: nonfiction picture book
Themes/topics: ancient Egypt, geography, world history, civilizations
Opening and synopsis:
“One of the world’s oldest continuous civilizations began about five thousand years ago, in the land of Egypt. For the next three thousand years the Egyptians were ruled by kings called pharaohs. While he was in power, each pharaoh was believed to be Horus, the son of the great sun god, Re.”
Gail Gibbons provides an age-appropriate overview of ancient Egypt including social structure, religious customs, and, of course, mummies.
Why I like this book: Have I mentioned that my three-year-old is obsessed with mummies? Our visit to The Getty Museum, with its Roman mummy in April made an impression, and we’ve been reading books about mummies ever since. Gibbons’ book, which we’ve read approximately 100 times, is the clear favorite. Gibbons is a prolific nonfiction writer. Her picture books are perfect for preschooler audiences.
Resources: This book is a wonderful way to explore ancient Egypt. Online resources abound, so here’s just a few. The British Museum has wonderful mummy collection. Check out the museum’s young explorers’ online explorer to learn more about ancient Egypt. National Geographic has a lesson plan for grades three through five, here. The site also has fun games, including “Tomb of the Unknown Mummy Game.” Kids become Egyptologist to explore the tomb and solve the mystery. The site also has a Day in the Life brainteaser/quiz game for children. Scholastic boasts several lesson plans with Egyptian themes. For grades six through twelve, educators can find lesson plans on PBS. Really, opportunities to extend the learning from this book abound.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book Friday will be on hiatus until September 7. I’ll be taking a bit of a blog-cation over the next month, but I’ll return with more book reviews in early August.
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: Seeing Symmetry


Author/Illustrator: Loreen Leedy
Publication Info: Holiday House, 2012
Intended audience: Grades 1-3  (NOTE: Meets Common Core math standards for Grade 4.)
Genre: nonfiction picture book
Themes/topics: math
Opening and synopsis:
“Butterfly wings have it. Triceratops had it. The word MOM has it.When you know what to look for, it’s easy to start…seeing symmetry.”
Symmetry is all around us: on our bodies and in plants, animals, the alphabet, art and more. Leedy’s dynamic illustrations make it easy for students to “see symmetry” on the page and in their world. Check out her book trailer:
Why I like this book: Symmetry is a math concept you have to see to believe. Leedy’s images clearly show both line and rotational symmetry and help students understand key concepts like “line of symmetry” and “asymmetrical.” Her backmatter is extensive and includes notes, activities, a glossary and an explanation of why symmetry is something students should know.
Resources: Seeing Symmetry includes two activities in the backmatter. There are instructions for making a Symme-TREE by folding paper in half and drawing a tree along the fold line. Students can cut out and decorate their tree for an example of line symmetry. She also has instructions for making a paint blot picture by putting blobs of paint on a sheet of paper. Children fold the paper in half one way and then the other to complete the picture. Leedy also has a wealth of resources (many free) on her TeachersPayTeachers Web 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, Science/Math

Perfect Picture Book Friday: Mission: Addition

Author/Illustrator: Loreen Leedy
Publication Info: Holiday House, 1997
Intended audience: Kindergarten – Grade 2
Genre: nonfiction picture book
Themes/topics: math
Opening and synopsis:
“It was a stormy day, and Miss Prime’s classroom was dark.
‘I’m going to show you just the facts — the addition facts.
Suppose you’re a detective and you find two fingerprints, then you find three more.
Here’s how you write the addition fact with numbers:
2 + 3 = 5’”
 Miss Prime’s class solves all kinds of addition problems, from adding up how many pets they have to summing their restaurant bills.
Why I like this book: Loreen Leedy makes math fun. Here’s the proof: my 5-year-old has requested Mission Addition over and over and over again. And seeing math as fun rather than a slog is a good thing. A recent study showed attitude — yours and your child’s — plays a major role in how successful your children are at math. See Annie Murphy Paul’s column about the study by Andrew Martin of the University of Sydney. With that in mind, I am always on the lookout for fun math books like Leedy’s as well as those of David Schwartz and Ann McCallum.
Resources: On Leedy’s site, she recommends having children add up all the living creatures in their homes, for example family members and pets. You could also replicate some of the activities from the book. Draw a picture  and encourage your children to write a word problem based on the picture. Then solve it. Or help your children weed out old clothes and toys and host a garage sale. Let them add up how much they make from their sales. Leedy also has a handout with Mission Addition activities available on her site (NOTE: It also includes activities from her other early books).
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.