Friday, April 27, 2012

April Carnival of Children's Literature

The word carnival conjures up images of ferris wheels, flying swings, clowns and cotton candy.  A smattering of everything possible all in one place.  I love definitions.  So I couldn't help myself from looking up "carnival" - my favorite definition being "an instance of merrymaking or feasting." 

As I have read through the posts for this month's Carnival of Children's Literature that definition is certainly fitting.  There are books galore to be feasted upon and enjoyed - from picture books to author interviews to non-fiction and beyond.  There are many great books and authors to be found.  And since April is National Poetry Month don't forget to peruse the poetry section to celebrate the poem.  

Enjoy this month's Carnival . . . without the regret of too much cotton candy.   

Book Projects
 - Zoe from Playing by the book is starting a new monthly round up of children's book reviews by topic: "I'm looking for a book about..." and would like to invite all bloggers to consider contributing. It will work like a carnival, but be topic based. Old posts welcome.           
- Susan from The Book Chook shares various activities to share with children in order to celebrate Children's Book Week.  
Early Literacy
- Jeff from NC Teacher Stuff reviews How to Be Friends with a Dragon -  an adorable picture book perfect for bedtime or a classroom read aloud.            
- Lisa from Adventures in Writing & Publishing posts a series on school author visits: planning, scheduling, offering value, etc.            
- Anastasia from Booktalking highlights 5 great books for new readers for Mother's Day.            
- Lynn from Make Writing Visible has a video "Reading & Writing WORD PICTURES" for you to show to students and then have them practice the skill with the handout.            
- Mindy from the Proper Noun Blog features her latest post in her Picture Book Preschool series that features books and activities exploring early literacy.  This month it's all about symmetry!                      
- Erik from Kid Book Ratings writes a post for any Curious George fans out there who are interested in his origin. 
- Maeve from Yellow Brick Reads posts a detailed analysis of the first book in The Hunger Games trilogy.           
- Jennifer from Jean Little Library reviews Island Horse by Susan Hughes.            
- Jen from Jen Robinson's Book Page blogs about How Many Jelly Beans - a bright, bold number book, with a delightful surprise at the end.
- Kate posts her second annual Pistachio Awards over at the Book Aunt.           
- Jen from Perogies & Gyoza reviews Laundry Day – a historical fiction picture book she wants everyone to know about! Fiction           
-Margo from The Fourth Musketeer reviews Never Fall Down - a riveting young-adult novel based on the Cambodian Killing Fields Genocide.  For those teens obsessed with The Hunger Games, why not give them a true story of a totalitarian regime to think about.              
-At Read, Write, Repeat Pat’s guest host Vince offers a cat-tastic review of Joanne Rocklin's THE FIVE LIVES OF OUR CAT, ZOOK.           
- Julie from Write Up My Life reviews Too Many Frogs – a darling picture book.
-Lisa from Shelf-employed features her most current Picture Book Roundup, a regular feature highlighting recently released picture books.
- Ali of Literary Lunchbox highlights Small as an Elephant - a wonderfully written MG novel about a boy coping with responsibilities beyond his years.

- Polly from The Little Wooden Horse reviews a delicious new picture book- Martha and her bunny brothers by Clara Vulliamy an account of adventures in learning to draw Martha on iPads.

- Tarie of Into the Wardrobe interviews author Sue Fliess about her latest picture book.             
- At Gathering Books, Myra interviews award-winning-novelist-in-verse Margarita Engle as she talks about her latest novel "The Wild Book" – a perfect fit for Poetry Month.            
- Augusta from AScattergood interviews Caroline Starr Rose, the author of a fabulous new novel-in-verse. She describes her writing process, just in time for Poetry Month.
- Jone from Deo Writer posts an interview featuring poet, Renee LaTulippe. 

- Shirley over at SimplyScience reviews Animal Homes a book that explores the variety of homes found around the world and why animals live there.           
-Louise features an incredible book entitled Flood at A Strong Belief in Wicker. She says it is a moving account to help children deal with the trauma of floods.

- Carmela at Teaching Authors has April Halprin Wayland help celebrate their 3rd blogiversary with a poem and announces a special giveaway.
- Susan over at Susan Taylor Brown features Kick the Poetry Can'ts  -  a month long adventure, making poetry less scary and getting more people to try writing a poem of their own.
- In honor of National Poetry Month, Jeanette of  SpeakWell, ReadWell introduces her students to Jane Yolen's book, Birds of a Feather. I also share student poetry.
- This month Mary Ann from Great Kid Books is sharing funny books and poetry. Gail Levine's newest book is a treat - such fun! It's perfect for kids who like a twist, something brief but perhaps unexpected.
- Renee LaTulippe of No Water River highlights just one of the 10 great poets who have created poetry videos to celebrate Poetry Month. Each post also includes an interview with the poet, so be sure to see who else stopped by this month!
- Camille from A Curious Thing features Forget-Me-Nots a fun new compilation of poetry for young children to enjoy and memorize.
- Greg from GottaBook features Bob Raczka's summation of poetry – one featured poet in his 30 Poets/30 Days which features a different poet/poem every day in April.            
-Melinda from Thinking in Rhyme is excited about all of the exciting happenings during National Poetry Month, but Poetry in Pocket is her most favorite!

Join us in May for another Carnival at Hope is the Word.

Friday, April 20, 2012


Poetry.  I can hear the collective sigh from high schoolers all over.  I think there are many people who think poetry is created to torture high-school English students.  I know, because I was one of them.  But in college I took a great literature course that included Shakespeare's sonnets and one day I found myself mesmerized by the words of Sonnet 116:

"Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove: . . . "

The professor went into great detail about the meaning and the construction, and thus I, gasp, actually enjoyed a poem!  I think the cure for the fear of poetry is to read it more often to young children so they are used to hearing the different rhythms and language.  

I was excited when I saw this new collection of poetry compiled by Mary Ann Hoberman, the 2008-2010 Children's Poet Laureate, Forget-Me-Nots: Poems to Learn by Heart, illustrated by Michael Emberley.  It has a large collection of poems, short and long, sad and funny, from authors ranging from Shel Silverstein to Carl Sandburg.  The watercolor illustrations are fun, colorful and expressive and make it picture book-esque in that the child has something to look at while listening. 

The collection has a strong emphasis on memorization with tips and techniques at the end. I love what Hoberman says of memorization in her introduction:"When you learn a poem by heart, it becomes a part of you.  You know it in your mind, in your mouth, in your ears, in your whole body.  And best of all, you know it forever."   

Yesterday I was watching a friend's two-year-old boy who was on the verge of sleep and I needed to keep him awake until his mom came to get him.  I pulled this book out and had him laughing at Ruth Krauss' The Happy Egg and following the words while studying the illustrations of Mary Ann Hoberman's Snow.  If you are looking for an introduction to poetry I highly recommend this new collection - it has a wide variety and is very approachable.  

I received a review copy of this book - however, all opinions are my own.

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Boxcar Children

Gertrude Chandler Warner's The Boxcar Children was originally published in 1924.  I love the timeless nature of books.  I had no idea it was that old but remembered loving it as a child.  In looking for books for my almost seven year old daughter to read, I ran across an old copy at the library.  She was home sick one day and finished the entire book.  Nearly 90 years after its first publication - and she loved it.

It had been a long time since I had read the book, so I picked it up yesterday and re-read it as well.  It is such a fun book.  It tells the story of two sisters and two brothers whose parents have died.  They are to live with their grandfather, but they do not know him well and do not want to, so they run away from home.  Eventually, they find a boxcar in the woods to live in and make it their home.

This book is certainly old and presents a scenery not often present today, especially for urban children. However, I think it is a world that children today will love escaping to - adventures living in the forest where the children are in charge.  Pull this one out of your childhood reading stash or grab it from the library.

Friday, April 13, 2012

If All the Animals Came Inside

If All the Animals Came Inside is a humorous picture book where a young boy imagines how life would be if all the animals came inside to live.   They would play hide and seek, go for an elephant ride, bounce on the beds and knock over the chairs!  Throughout the text, there is a repeated refrain, "Oh, what a terrible mess they would make!"  At the start of the text that terrible mess is oh so fun, but as the story progresses even the protagonist moves from player to spectator.  And in the end, after spending the night camped outside, he decides that

 "As fun as a house full of critters could be,
my dog and my kitten are plenty for me.
But oh, what a wild and wonderful ride
when all the animals came inside."

The illustrations are collage cutouts done by Marc Brown.  They are colorful, fun and humorous.  The look is very textured, perhaps a little too much for me, but overall the effect is one that echoes the text - of a wild ride when the animals came inside!

It was spring break here last week and my kids made up a zoo in their bedroom complete with every stuffed animal known to man, with signs and tickets for entrance.  They loved reading this book and imagining their own zoo coming to life inside their room.

I received a review copy of this book - however, all opinions are my own.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

and then it's spring

I love A Sick Day for Amos McGee - the text is simple with lines I love, like "Belly full and ready for the workday, he'd amble out the door."  And the illustrations, how I love the illustrations.  So I was very excited to find out that the Stead's were stopping by my local library.  My kids and I loved it.  Philip Stead read two books, Amos McGee and one of his own - Jonathan and the Big Blue Boat.  The kids joined in and echoed common refrains and proudly held up their own copies of the Caldecott winner.  And Erin Stead brought some of her artwork for Amos McGee to show - a piece of wood she carved and then prints of headless Amos and an elephant with no eyes - areas that she later filled in with pencil.  My children were so excited to learn about the process of being a real artist that we came home and put to test her suggestion of carving potatoes to create their own masterpieces.

It was that day that we saw Erin's newest book and then it's spring written by Julie Fogliano.   This is Fogliano's first book and I really like the text.  It is a simple - in a poetic, conversational type of way.  It is the type of text that I find myself liking more and more every time I read it.  It tells about a boy and his dog (and a bunny and a turtle) who are tired of waiting for winter to end.  So they plan and plant a garden and then wait, and wait, and wait for spring to come and their garden to bloom.

The illustrations perfectly mirror and add to the text.  On each page you must spend more time reading the pictures then the text.  Erin Stead uses a similar artistic process to that of Amos McGee - carving wood blocks to make prints and then adding detail in with pencil.  I love the colors used - at first brown is dominant with pops of color in the background and in various small items - a yellow raincoat, a red wagon and umbrella.  And the end picture, when spring has finally sprung, is green, and bright and cheery.  It feels just like when I walk outside and see that my tulips have finally bloomed.

This book perfectly captures the long wait for spring to come and, especially, the child's take on waiting for planted seeds to turn into something - be it flowers or fruits and vegetables.  Enjoy this book while it is still spring!