Books, Science/Math

PPBF: Blue On Blue



AUTHOR: Dianne White


PUBLICATION INFO: Beach Lane Books (2014)


SOURCE: library


GENRE: picture book


“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.”


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.


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


PUBLICATION INFO: Holiday House, 1991

ISBN: 978-0823410255

SOURCE:  library

INTENDED AUDIENCE: ages 5 and up

GENRE: nonfiction


“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.


  • 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, History

Perfect Picture Book Friday: ALL STAR!


AUTHOR: Jane Yolen


PUBLICATION INFO: Penguin’s Philomel, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-399-24661-6

SOURCE: Library

INTENDED AUDIENCE: ages 6-8 (Publisher’s recommendation)

GENRE: picture book biography


“In July 2007 a rare baseball card was sold at auction for almost three million dollars.”

From the publisher’s Website:

The Honus Wagner baseball card is the most valuable baseball card of all time! But he was born poor, ugly, bow-legged, and more suited to shoveling coal in his Pennsylvania mining town than becoming the greatest shortstop of all time. How could it happen? Did those strong arms and fast legs turn him into a Pittsburgh Pirate and one of the game’s most unforgettable players?

In this true story, Jane Yolen shows us that wit, talent, perseverance, and passion score more than home runs. As Honus would say, “How about that!”

THEMES/TOPICS: baseball, perseverance

WHY I LIKE THIS BOOK: As Yolen points, out Wagner was a star in the days before performance enhancing drugs and fancy training schedules. As an early teen, he gained strength and endurance by working in the coal mines of Pennsylvania alongside his father. Also, the reason Wagner’s card is so rare, is because he had it pulled from the market. The card was found in packs of cigarettes. Wagner was a nonsmoker and worried about the health of his young fans.


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


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


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

From the publisher’s Website:

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.


  • 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



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)


“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.


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.


Erik’s Choose Your Own Adventure

ErikBannerIf you have arrived in the middle of the adventure, you may start at the beginning by going HERE

Erik chooses to tackle the ooze:

Benton shook his head and snorted as they watched the bubbling black goop in the path they needed to follow.

Erik said, “Well, boy, I hope you’re good at jumping!”

Benton skittered backwards. Jumping things that looked like boiling cauldrons was not in his pony contract.

“You can do it, boy. I’ve got your back. Well, I’m on your back. That’s almost the same thing. Come on, let’s back up and take a run at it.” Erik tugged on Benton’s reins, and the pony backed up several paces, then started toward the obstacle, first at an easy lope, then at a faster canter.

“Up and….” Erik hoped they wouldn’t land in the middle of that horrid goo. “YES! We’re over!”

Benton slowed his pace. His heart was thundering as loudly as his hooves had been just moments before.

“Whoa!” shouted Erik. Benton planted his hooves firmly on the ground. He didn’t need any command. He wasn’t going any further!

In front of them was a dragon’s cave, complete with dragon. AND there was the black horse!

To enter the clearing, click HERE.

Books, Holidays

Perfect Picture Book Friday: Uncles and Antlers

TITLE: Uncles and Antlers

AUTHOR: Lisa Wheeler


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

ISBN: 978-0689864698

SOURCE: Library


GENRE: picture book (fiction)


“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.


  • 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


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.


  • 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



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.


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

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.”
  • 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.