So You Want to be a Writer
Teacher/Book Reviewer
Big Week for Little Mouse
Big Week for Little Mouse
 
 
BIG WEEK for LITTLE MOUSE
written by Eugenie Fernandes
illustrated by Kim Fernandes
KIDS CAN PRESS
ISBN: 1-55337-665-X
Ages: 2-5
$14.95



Birthdays come and birthdays go,
Some come fast and some come slow.
Birthdays are a time of fun . . .
For you, for me, for everyone.
Little Mouse can hardly wait.
For her it’s time to celebrate.

. . . and celebrate she did, but not before she finished her chores. Preparing for her birthday party was lots of work. Little Mouse had to mop and scrub and pick flowers and hang up balloons. Yes, it was a busy week for Little Mouse.

Then award winning mother/daughter, author/illustrator team, Eugenie and Kim Fernandes combine rhyming words, antonyms, and days of the week with colorful 3D illustrations, which makes Big Week for Little Mouse chock-full of skills for the creative teacher. It’s brimming with fun for young readers, too. Kiddles love word-play and this book offers such fun, which will have not only Kiddles, but parents and teachers rattling off all kinds of words. Try it . . . it’s fun.

This review can also be seen on: SmartWriters
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Teacher/Book Reviewer
Paul Needs Specs
Paul Needs Specs
 
 
PAUL NEEDS SPECS
written by Bernard Cohen
illustrated by Geoff Kelly
Kane/Miller Book Publisher
ISBN: 192913261
$15.95
Ages 5-9

Paul asked, “Has the world gone fuzzy, . . .?” What a scary feeling to have your world blur in front of your eyes, especially when you are a child no bigger than Paul. The world hadn’t gone fuzzy or blurry or misty or foggy . . . well not really. But, Paul’s eyesight did. Author, Bernard Cohen takes us on a trip to the eye doctor. What a strange place that is! Paul tries many different lenses. Some make him see fat and some make him see tall and I wonder if some do nothing at all. Then Goeff Kelly adds his zany, very psychedelic illustrations, which will make readers howl. This book should definitely allay the fears of any child who needs to get glasses. PAUL NEEDS SPECS is a real eye-opener.

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Teacher/Book Reviewer
Myrtle
Myrtle
 
 
MYRTLE
written by Tracey Campbell Pearson
illustrated by Tracey Campbell Pearson
Farrar Straus and Giroux
ISBN: 0-374-35157-0
Ages: 3-6
$15.00

There are bullies everywhere, but don’t you hate it when you find them in your own back yard? Once at the grocery store checkout as I waited patiently, grasping a bunch of broccoli, a woman pushed her overflowing cart right in front of me. Every day on my 20 mile commute to school, there are cars that bully their way into the line exiting the highway. Can’t they see the 50 cars waiting, patiently? HOW RUDE! That’s what Myrtle would say and I fully agree with her. “RUDE! RUDE! RUDE!” These are the bullies in my back yard.

When Frances moved in, Myrtle found a bully in her back yard, too. Frances was downright mean and Myrtle was downright scared. Snakes and monsters and mean songs would scare me, too. No one deserves to be bullied. So, when Aunt Tizzy told Myrtle of the nasty lions she met in Africa and their mean lion roars, Myrtle got to thinking. She grabbed her brother’s hand and set off to face her fears. She felt bigger! She felt stronger! And, she was ready to stand up for herself . . . a very liberating feeling! I think I’ll take a lesson from Myrtle. Just wait . . . the next time someone tries to push her overflowing grocery cart in front of me, I’ll just bop her on the head . . . with my broccoli. Well . . . maybe not.

Tracey Campbell Pearson hit on a very timely topic . . . one that visits and revisits children in every age and at every stage. It seems, unfortunately, that there will always be bullies. I remember them when I was a child. Definitely, not fun! Ms. Pearson’s whimsical illustrations add a welcome lightness to a serious problem. Young readers will gain confidence as Myrtle did, as they realize that they are not alone in the “BULLY” world and they CAN do something about it.

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Teacher/Book Reviewer
Whose House?
Whose House?
 
 
WHOSE HOUSE
Written by Barbara Seuling
Illustrated by Kay Chorao
Gulliver Books Harcourt Children’s Books
ISBN: 0-15-216347-6
Ages: 3-7
$16.00

Houses come in so many colors and sizes and shapes. Some are tall and skinny and rise high into the sky. Some are kind of fat and have acres of land around them. That’s called s-p-r-a-w-l-i-n-g. Some are in big buildings called apartments and some are tiny, little cottages or bungalows. Houses are made of wood, brick, stone, or mud, and some are even made of ice. There are castles and palaces and mansions. There are igloos, and houses made of grass, which have thatched roofs. I’ve seen purple houses and bright yellow and green houses. Once, I even saw a pink house with blue shutters. That was pretty scary unless, of course, pink and blue are your favorite colors. So, with so many different kinds of houses, how can you ever choose which house is exactly right for you?

Well, you could try them out just like the young boy in WHOSE HOUSE did. On his journey to find just the right house, he visited a beaver’s lodge and a bee’s hive. They weren’t right for him. He tried out a hollow log, too, but he learned that that was better for a frog. This rhyming picture book written by Barbara Seuling and illustrated by Kay Chorao will have young readers testing out all kinds of houses . . . until they find the one just right for them. And . . . maybe . . . just maybe, it’s the one they are already living in.

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Teacher/Book Reviewer
Out and About at the Supermarket
 
 
OUT AND ABOUT AT THE SUPERMARKET
Written by Kitty Shea
Illustrated by Becky Shipe
Picture Window Books
ISBN: 1-4048-0295-9W
Ages: 4-9
$17.95

This is a selection of non-fiction titles from Picture Window Books. Featured is OUT AND ABOUT AT THE SUPERMARKET by Kitty Shea, illustrated by Becky Shipe.


Kiddles love to learn facts. They love to spout them off in the least expected places. It makes them sound so smart and . . . oh so worldly. You’ve heard of name-droppers, well you can just think of them as fact-droppers. This sample of Picture Window Books will have KIDDLES dropping facts all over the place.
In Snack Time Around the World they may drop a fact about lumpia or merienda. In Think, Think, Think Learning About Your Brain, you may overhear them talking about something wrinkled and gray. Don’t worry. They’re not talking about you -- even if you are wrinkled and gray. They’re describing their brain, complete with cerebellum, cerebrum, and brain stem.
And anyone knows that in Do Ducks Live in the Desert? – that -- they DON’T! But, if you listen carefully, you might be able to find out where musk oxen, or periwinkles, or markhors live. What’s a markhor, anyway? Well, you may think that none of this really matters, but don’t let a KIDDLE hear you say that, especially after they have read Matter See It, Touch It, Taste It, Smell It. They’ll probably tell you that the universe is made up of billions of atoms and molecules. And . . . you know what, they’ll be right. So anytime you hear a fact–dropper, listen up! You are sure to learn something.

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Teacher/Book Reviewer
 
The Giant Jelly Bean Jar
The Giant Jelly Bean Jar
 
THE GIANT JELLY BEAN JAR
written by Marcie Aboff
illustrated by Paige Billin-Frye
Dutton Children's Books
ISBN: 0525472363
$13.99
Ages 5-8

Beans! Beans! Beans! There are lima beans, coffee beans, kidney beans and refried beans. I love them all! But my favorite kinds of beans are jelly beans – and every flavor, too. Cherry, grape, lemon-lime, licorice . . . YUM! Double yum for strawberry and banana.

I bet Marcie Aboff loves jelly beans, too. After all, she did write The Giant Jelly Bean Jar. But I wonder if she really likes pizza jelly beans. I mean, whoever heard of pizza jelly beans? Next she’ll probably think of spinach or olive, or liver jelly beans. Arrrghhh!
I bet Marcie loves contests, too. Well, who doesn’t? Everyone loves to be a winner. Look at Ben. He really wanted to win that giant jelly bean jar. So every week Ben and his sister, Jill, went to Jo-Jo’s Jelly Bean Shop to try to guess the jelly bean riddle. Can you imagine having a whole jar of jelly beans all to yourself? Mmmm!

Then illustrator, Paige Billin-Frye dabs her color onto the pages to make those jelly beans look so yummy and so inviting. Who can help but want to eat them all up?
I think that Marcie and Paige took riddles and contests and jelly beans and rolled them all up into one delicious book. It makes me hungry just looking at it . . . not only for jelly beans, but for the good reading, too.

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Teacher/Book Reviewer
Blueberry Mouse
Blueberry Mouse
 
 
BLUEBERRY MOUSE
written by Alice Low
illustrated by David Michael Friend
Mondo Publishing
ISBN: 1-59336-111-4
$15.95
Ages 3--7

I’ve heard of a greenhouse, the Whitehouse, and even a house of cards. I’ve heard of a townhouse. I live in one. But, who ever heard of a blueberry house? Well, Blueberry Mouse, of course! Blueberry Mouse, written by Alice Low and illustrated by David Michael Friend, tells of a mouse as sweet as she can be. And, why not? She nibbles the whole day long . . . on sweet, juicy blueberries inside her blueberry house.

Blueberry Mouse’s house is made of blueberry pie and everything inside is made of . . . you guessed it . . . blueberries. Blueberry Mouse nibbles her blueberry table and blueberry cups. Her blanket and bedclothes and even her bed are not spared when Blueberry Mouse gets hungry. It is no wonder Blueberry Mouse is a lovely shade of blueberry. And it sounds like a lovely existence, too, until Blueberry Mouse begins to nibble her window and wall and her floor and her door. That’s when the roof comes crumbling down.

You might think Blueberry Mouse a rather foolish mouse for eating so many blueberries. But, did you know that many scientists believe that blueberries are a “super” food containing high contents of antioxidants, which help to prevent aging and many common diseases? So maybe Blueberry Mouse and her creator, Alice Low, are onto something. Now, I’m going to scoop up a big dish of blueberry ice cream, dribble warm blueberry sauce over it, and put a cherr. . . I mean a blueberry on top. It’s important to stay healthy, you know. (grin)

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Teacher/Book Reviewer
Beavers
BEAVERS
by Margaret Hall
Capstone Press Pebble Books
ISBN: 0-7368-2063-9W
$11.95
Grades PreK-2
 
Coyotes
COYOTES
by Patricia J. Murphy
Capstone Press Pebble Books
ISBN: 0-7368-2072-8W
$11.95
Grades PreK-2
 
Fog
FOG
by Helen Frost
Capstone Press Pebble Books
ISBN: 0-7368-2093-0W
$11.95
Grades PreK-2
 
Penguins
PENGUINS
Emily Rose Townsend
Capstone Press Pebble Books
ISBN: 0-7368-2357-3W
$11.95
Grades PreK-2
Sitting Bull
SITTING BULL
by Lisa Trumbauer
Capstone Press Pebble Books
ISBN: 0-7368-2371-9W
$11.95
Grades PreK-2
 
Woodpeckers
WOODPECKERS
by Emily Rose Townsend
Capstone Press Pebble Books
ISBN: 0-7368-2070-1W
$11.95
Grades PreK-2
 
CAPSTONE PRESS produces a vast range of non-fiction titles for Pre-K through 12th grade. These easy to read fact-filled, photo-illustrated books are a great addition to your personal library, but they are also especially valuable for teachers and students as a resource tool in any classroom. High interest topics combined with reading ease make these books fun to read. Pebble Books are written for beginning readers in grades Pre-K to 2nd grade.

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Teacher/Book Reviewer
The Dirty Cowboy
The Dirty Cowboy
 
 
THE DIRTY COWBOY
written by Amy Timberlake
illustrated by Adam Rex
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
ISBN: 0-374-31791-7
$16.00
Ages 4—8

You know, there’s something to be said about loyalty and obedience, but Eustace Shackleford Montana may have gone too far the day his cowboy took a bath. When the Cowboy said, “Dawg! No one touches these clothes but me. Hear?”, Eustace took the Cowboy at his word. What good dog wouldn’t? On that fateful day under the New Mexico sky, Eustace demonstrated his dedication to his Cowboy . . . to the limit. That’s definitely an A+ dog and THE DIRTY COWBOY written by Amy Timberlake and illustrated by Adam Rex is an A+ book.

Ms. Timberlake writes a very funny and engaging tale of a cowboy who takes a bath only once a year. Bet kids would love that! She tells a story of a cowboy who sings of rivers flowin’, cattle lowin’, and cowboys crowin’ a combination that will surely have KIDDLES howlin’. (Okay so it doesn’t rhyme, but you get the gist.)

Then illustrator, Adam Rex, steps in to complete the package -- and he does it in such a clever way. The hilarious images he paints of the cowboy cavorting “nearly nekkid” across the pages present a very funny picture -- one that will capture readers, both young and old, city-slickers and prairie-dwellers, and maybe even a doodlebug or two.

PS
This review, unlike my regular reviews written from my home in the New York City metropolitan area, was written under the clear New Mexico sky with no dust devil or smudgy rainbow in sight, but I did see a small gray spider scurry by a few moments ago.

This review can also be seen on: SmartWriters
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Teacher/Book Reviewer
 
Selma
 
SELMA
written and illustrated by Jutta Bauer
Kane/Miller Book Publishers
ISBN: 1-929132-50-6
$7.95
All Ages

It’s a “quiet” story. But quiet and gentle are what children yearn for. In their fast - paced lives of soccer games, dance classes, and play dates a quiet book is a welcome respite.

SELMA, written and illustrated by Jutta Bauer is no bigger than an index card, yet it packs a whopping, powerful punch. How can a tiny sheep know about happiness?

What is happiness anyway? It’s an age – old question. Is it having a million dollars, or two, or three? Is it traveling to far off exotic islands? Or maybe it’s being able to eat all the ice cream you want, chocolate, of course, and never, ever gaining an ounce?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are not so different from most people.

It seems that everyone, in his or her quest for happiness, is always searching . . . searching around every corner. But maybe happiness is not as far away as we think. We can take a lesson from Selma. Selma is content. She is happy with the simple pleasures of life. She eats a little, plays with her children, eats a little more, exercises, visits with a friend, and then gets a good night’s sleep. What more could anyone want?

In our hustle bustle world of always wanting more and bigger and better, Selma leaves us with some whopping, powerful thoughts to ponder.

This review can also be seen on: SmartWriters
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Teacher/Book Reviewer
The Case of Vivian Vampire
 
 
THE CASE OF VAMPIRE VIVIAN
By Michelle Knudsen, illustrated by Amy Wummer
KANE PRESS
ISBN: 1-57565-127-0
Ages 5 – 8 years
$4.99


Well, she is sort of weird -- that new girl who just moved in -- her hair all sticking out like bat wings. How can you ignore thatbat shirt she’s wearing and those bat stickers on her notebook and what about her bat earrings? Now isn’t that a “bat” much? Who can blame Molly for thinking Vivian is a vampire? Wouldn’t you?

Molly and her friends, Frank and Louis, turn into detectives and scientists all rolled into one as they try to solve the mystery of THE CASE OF VAMPIRE VIVIAN written by Michelle Knudsen and illustrated by Amy Wummer. Ms. Knudsen mixes fact with fiction as she weaves an interesting tale about bats and vampires, while Ms. Wummer’s paintbrush teases the reader into thinking Vivian may actually be a vampire. I mean just look at Vivian’s hair. Looks like bats to me!

So of course, young readers, armed with Knudsen’s “bat” facts and Wummer’s perky illustrations, will eagerly join Molly and her friends to try to discover if Vivian is really a vampire. BUT . . . WAIT! If she’s a “real” vampire, then why is she awake during the day? And why did she eat garlic-mashed potatoes? Anyone knows vampires hate garlic. It’s a real mystery all right, but don’t let it drive you “batty”!

This review can also be seen on: SmartWriters
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Teacher/Book Reviewer
An Ant's Day Off
 
 
AN ANT’S DAY OFF
by Bonny Becker, illustrated by Nina Laden
Simon & Schuster Children's
ISBN: 0-689-82274-X
$15.95
Ages 4 – 8 years


Working! Working! Always working! That sums up Bart’s life in AN ANT’S DAY OFF written by Bonny Becker and illustrated by Nina Laden. Moving sand from one tunnel to the next, day after day -- hey, that’s the life of a sand ant!

But it’s been said, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” So would that make Bart a dull ant? Everybody needs a day off once in a while . . . doesn’t he? A day to take in the wonders of the world . . . a day to pull the covers up over your head and dream.

It seemed that Bart was content with his life in the sand tunnel . . . until one day . . . the day he looked up and saw a glimmer of blue. That’s all it took. Bart threw down his shovel. He flung off his hard hat. Nothing, not even his friend, Floyd’s warning, “No ant has ever taken a day off – never in the history of antdom,” could stop Bart from scrambling toward the sun. Well, sometimes an ant just needs to look at the sky, now doesn’t he? I’m sure that children will scramble for this book when they want to escape from their busy worlds.

P. S.
I’m glad Bonny Becker and Nina Laden didn’t take a day off or this delightful book may never have been produced. What fun!

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Teacher/Book Reviewer
Fossil Tales
 
 
FOSSIL TALES
by Meish Goldish
Chelsea House Publishers
ISBN: 1-7910-7411-0
$13.95
Ages 9 - 12


Did you know that the word, “dinosaur” was not even a word before the 1800s? Nowadays that word tumbles off the lips of most children, even as young as preschoolers. Children are fascinated with dinosaurs. They are in awe of their size and their strange looks, so it was no wonder that there was an audible buzz from the KIDDLE CRITers as I prepared to read FOSSIL TALES to them.

When they learned of the feud between the leading scientists in the field, Marsh and Cope, they were outraged. It’s crazy!” “Why couldn’t they cooperate?” “Didn’t they know they were damaging history?” These were some statements made by the insightful CRITers.

Meish Goldish examines the time line of fossils in his new book entitled, FOSSIL TALES. He traces dinosaur research from their discovery in the early 1800s until present day. Mr. Goldish also explores a range of topics including the discovery of prehistoric shark’s teeth, reconstruction of found dinosaur bones, and the “goofs” scientists made in naming and renaming the dinosaurs.

Children love just about anything dinosaur-related, and FOSSIL TALES is packed full of fascinating details that capture their interest.

Its array of photos of paleontologists at work and reconstructed dinosaur skeletons nicely complements the text. Judging from the CRITers’ reaction, I can guarantee that the pages of this book will become very well worn as children return to them over and over again. What a DINO-mite job, Mr. Goldish!

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Teacher/Book Reviewer
READ-IT! READERS: FAIRY TALES
 
READ-IT! READERS: FAIRY TALES
Picture Window Books
ISBN: 1-4048-0240-1W
12 Book Set $167.40
(Single Titles $13.95)
Ages 4 to 9

Do you ever want to believe something; I mean really, truly want to believe, even though you know it can’t possibly be true? Maybe you just want to believe because everyone else does. Or have you ever decided that you didn’t like someone because of how they look? These story concepts are as old as time, and there are many lessons to be learned from them.

You may have recognized the themes above as the, THE EMPEROR’S NEW CLOTHES and THE UGLY DUCKLING. These classic titles, and more, are published by Picture Window Books in their fairytale series. Teachers will love these books because they are specially designed for early readers. The varying degrees of difficulty, allows children to choose books that are just right for them.

Since many of the stories such as, THE THREE BILLY GOAT’S GRUFF, THE THREE LITTLE PIGS, and THE THREE BEARS are familiar to children, they are easier to read because children can predict what is coming next in the story. For example, when the wolf threatens to blow down the pig’s house, most children quickly repeat the wolf’s refrain, “I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house in.” These predictable parts of the story make it easy for children to decode the text. Teachers love this early reading success; so do parents. And of course, the children revel in the fact that they are readers. These books are very “kiddle” friendly from their texts to their perky illustrations.

Although the books can be sold in the complete package from the publisher at picturewindowbooks.com, single titles can also be purchased at competitive prices from your local bookstore. This collection of much loved stories would be a wonderful addition to any classroom library, or for that matter any child’s favorite bookshelf.

This review can also be seen on: SmartWriters
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Teacher/Book Reviewer
 
Suki's Kimono
 
SUKI’S KIMONO
by Chieri Uegaki, illustrated by Stéphane Jorisch
Kids Can Press, Limited
1-55337-084-8
$15.95
Ages 5 to 8

The first day of school is special. Hey, every school day is, but I have to admit that the first day holds a bit of extra magic. It’s a day of newness . . . new classroom, new teacher, new backpack, maybe even a new outfit or a pair of new shoes. Yes, it’s a very important day.

So, it was no wonder that Suki wanted to wear something special on her first day in first grade. But when she decided to wear her kimono, her sisters, Mari and Yumi, thought she was weird. They wanted Suki to wear something new . . . something cool, but Suki didn’t care for new or cool. She was determined to wear the blue kimono and her shiny red geta. Suki didn’t listen when Yumi and Mari warned her that everyone would laugh. She simply didn’t care.

It takes a special person . . . a spunky person to dare to be different, to step out of the box, to think her own thoughts and chase her own dreams. How simple it is to follow the crowd or let others do your thinking. How easy it is to blend into mediocrity . . . BUT not Suki. Suki makes me wish I had my very own kimono and geta.

SUKI’S KIMONO is a beautifully written story by first time picture book author, Chieri Uegaki. Ms. Uegaki, through her main character, Suki, celebrates the courage to be different, while offering the reader a glimpse into Japanese culture. Then, illustrator, Stephane Jorisch steps up to add his flair with his fanciful watercolors. His paintings simply capture the essence of Suki. You know . . . they say to never judge a book by its cover, but this time I can’t help it. One look at Suki and she danced right off the cover and into my heart. I have no doubt she’ll capture yours, too.

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Teacher/Book Reviewer
Unique Monique
 
 
UNIQUE MONIQUE
by Maria Rousaki, illustrated by Polina Papanikolaou
Kane/Miller Book Publishers
1-929132-51-4
$15.95
Ages 4-8

At the shopping mall today I saw a boy with blue hair, a girl with five rings in her nose, and another with hair standing straight up. I think they call it “spiked.” Some might call it weird. It does look a bit strange, but I think it’s creative. It’s a statement. It says, “Look at me! I am unique!”

I encourage my first graders to think for themselves. “Use your own ‘noodle’,” I say. So, when I discovered UNIQUE MONIQUE written by Maria Rousaki and illustrated by Polina Papanikolaou, I was delighted. What a great book to emphasize my point. Be yourself! Think for yourself! Make a statement! Maria and Polina did, when they teamed up to produce this “unique” book.

Monique is a great example of a youngster who is not afraid to let the world, and her teachers, know exactly who she is! I particularly loved Monique’s giant red hat. . the one that looked like a tomato. Anyone who knows me, knows I love hats, too. But, I’ve never dared to wear a tomato hat. Maybe I will . . . some day.

I also loved when Monique strolled across the schoolyard, totally confident in herself, with every eye glued to her. She was proud of that new hat. I admired her doggedness and her determination to find something . . . anything that would set her apart from the rest of her uniform-clad classmates. I applaud Monique’s courage . . . the courage to be different. What guts!

And I applaud Maria Rousaki and Polina Papanikolaou for a work well done . . . or should I say a “unique” work . . . well done.

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Teacher/Book Reviewer
 
 
TINKA
by Rainy Dohaney
Anne Schwartz Book
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
0-689-85261-4
$15.95
Ages 3-7

Sure you’ve heard of Tom Thumb and Thumbelina . . . each no bigger than your thumb. But have you ever heard of Tinka? No? Then, you are in for a treat. Tinka is a sheep. She’s soft and cuddly and absolutely adorable. But, Tinka is no ordinary sheep. She’s as small as a cupcake. She can fit in your hand or you can easily tuck her away in your pocket. Sounds fun, huh?

But, it’s not always easy being small. For that matter, it’s not easy being too tall, too fat, or too thin. It’s not easy being too young or too old, and if you are like Kermit the Frog from Sesame Street, “It’s not easy being green.” Extremes are most always difficult.

Poor Tinka is too small. She’s too small to make enough wool. She’s too small to sleep with the other sheep. She’s too small to see over the fence . . . even standing on her tippytoes. Tinka is so small that she can’t even see the purple spider creeping across the hillside in the far distance and that is what all the other sheep are baaa-ing about. The purple spider is a sure sign of spring. But, when Tinka’s friend, Sooty, flies by, Tinka crawls on his back and for once she is grateful for her smallness.

Children will delight with Tinka as she flies higher than any sheep ever could. They will cheer her on and soar with her over the farms and fields to the “baah-aah-aah-eeootiful” home of the purple spider. And, together they will return to the farmyard with a secret . . . a secret you can be privy to by reading TINKA, written and illustrated by Rainy Dohaney.

Ms. Dohaney paints a gentle story with both her words and her art. With watercolors and colored pencils, she crafts “baah-aah-aah-eeootiful” illustrations, which create a mood of serenity and peacefulness. This would make a wonderful bedtime story. Children will want to hear it over and over again . . . probably a “schmillion” times.

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Teacher/Book Reviewer
 
 
JOHN GLENN
by Thomas Streissguth
Bridgestone Books an imprint of Capstone Press
0-7368-1625-9
Ages 5 to 9

Have you ever wanted to be a hero? Ever thought you might grow up to do something you were really passionate about? I think we all hope to make our mark on the world. With me . . . it’s teaching and writing. John Glenn pursued his passion and made history. In 1962 he became the first person to orbit the earth. Thirty-six years later, Glenn again put his stamp on history when he became the oldest person to travel in space. Author, Thomas Streissguth takes us on a historical timeline of John Glenn’s life in his new book, entitled most aptly, JOHN GLENN. Streissguth, very succinctly outlines Glenn’s life from birth to current time. He shows how Glenn’s love of fast cars and airplanes led him to become a fighter pilot, and then a test pilot for the United States government. John liked to break speed records, so it was only natural that when NASA began their new space program in 1958, John Glenn applied and was accepted. This led to his becoming one of the first U.S. astronauts. Since childhood Glenn dreamed of flying. His hero was Charles Lindbergh. By pursuing his passion, John Glenn exceeded his dream. What child doesn’t wonder what is beyond our seeable sky? Dreams! The universe is filled with dreams. John Glenn’s life inspires children to be brave, to believe in themselves, to take chances, and to follow their dreams.

This review can also be seen on: SmartWriters
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Teacher/Book Reviewer
 
 
GRANDFATHER COUNTS
by Andrea Cheng, illustrated by Ange Zhang
LEE & LOW BOOKS, Inc
1-58430-010-8
$16.95
Ages 5 to 8

When Gong Gong arrived, Helen’s life turned upside down. I mean, he couldn’t even speak English. How was Helen going to communicate with him? Sure, he was her grandfather, but why did mom have to give him Helen’s bedroom? Why couldn’t Gong Gong sleep in Cece’s room . . . or Henry’s? Helen loved standing at her bedroom window to watch the trains hurry down the tracks. She loved counting the cars from engine to caboose. Now Gong Gong was in her room with only Chinese in his head.

Andrea Chen tackles a wide range of emotions in her book entitled, GRANDFATHER COUNTS. Children will easily relate to Helen’s feelings of anger and confusion, her feelings of guilt and fear, as they recount incidents in their lives when they have felt just like Helen. Then they will finally heave a sigh of relief when, at the end of the book, Helen and Gong Gong become friends. Who would think it could be numbers and counting that would bring them together . . . one, two, three . . . yi, er, san.

The illustrations by Ange Zhang are gentle, yet very expressive. Notice Helen and Gong Gong’s faces. They tell an emotional story in themselves.

In our American society, which is so culturally diverse, teachers will find GRANDFATHER COUNTS a great book for initiating class discussions about the differences and sameness of their students. Children will want to read or hear this book again and again.

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MY BROTHER DAN’S DELICIOUS
by Steven L. Layne, illustrated by Chuck Galey
Pelican Publishing Company
1-58980-071-0
$14.95
Ages 6 and Up

“Monster Fear!” We’ve all had it. Come on. Admit it. Remember shadows drifting across your bedroom walls, curtains flapping in the night, or spooky noises bumping behind your closet door? “Quick!” you yell. “Shut it!” Then you jump into bed and dive under the covers. Remember the last time a monster visited you?

Take a memory trip back to when you were eight years old. Remember those especially dark nights when you stayed home alone? You convinced your mom or dad that you were old enough. You even convinced them that you didn’t need a baby sitter. But once the sun went down and the stars came out, remember how hard it was to convince yourself? I know, I do. A little “monster fear” goes a long way for a youngster. Children will definitely empathize with eight year old Joey in MY BROTHER DAN’S DELICIOUS written by Steven L. Layne and illustrated by Chuck Galey. As children turn each page, they will cheer Joey on as he tries to control and outwit his MONSTER . . . or his imagination. What do you think?

Children will love how illustrator, Chuck Galey reveals the “monster’s” presence on every page. They’ll delight in yelling, “Look out! There it is!” Then watch as Mr.Galey paints subtle hints of danger. They are everywhere. No wonder Joey is afraid. Look in the mirror. What do you see? And hey, what’s that under the rug? Are the pictures on the wall trying to give warning? There seem to be eyes everywhere . . . the window on the front door, the bannister, even on Joey’s backpack. Can you find more? So, before you turn off the light tonight, be sure to look under your bed.

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THE SUNDAE SCOOP
by Stuart J. Murphy, illustrated by Cynthia Jabar
HarperCollins Publishers
0-06-028925-2
$16.89
Ages 6 and Up

Most kids love ice cream. They love as it drips down their fingers and smears their noses and they love to swirl their tongues around its creamy flavor. So what could be more fun than making ice cream sundaes for the school picnic? In THE SUNDAE SCOOP written by Stuart J. Murphy, Emily, Lauren, and James decide to do just that.

They take chocolate and vanilla ice cream, add caramel and hot fudge sauces and two toppings to make a variety of different sundae combinations But when Emily wonders exactly how many combinations they can make, Winnie, the cafeteria lady, pulls out her chalkboard to demonstrate. The use of the chalkboard, as a graphic organizer, makes this difficult math concept easy for youngsters to understand. What a clever technique by Murphy to combine reading fun with math skills.

Cynthia Jabar’s bright, perky illustrations combined with Murphy’s yummy story make this a very inviting book.

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WHEN I WAS BUILT
by Jennifer Thermes
Henry Holt and Company
ISBN 0-8050-6532-6
$16.95

Ages 4-8

“Who’s been eating my porridge?” Just about everyone recognizes those words from GOLDILOCKS AND THE THREE BEARS. But, really, have you ever wondered who has taken a bath in your bathtub, or sprawled in front of your fireplace, cooked dinner on your stove or climbed the stairs to your bedroom . . . before you moved into your house?

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FARMER MCPEEPERS and HIS MISSING MILK COWS
by Katy S. Duffield, illustrated by Steve Gray
Rising Moon
ISBN 0-87358-825-8
$15.95
Ages 4-8

The milk cows on Farmer McPeepers’ farm are simply up to NO good. I mean, have you ever seen milk cows fishing from a row boat, jumping double Dutch rope, skateboarding, or flying kites? “Outrageous!” you say. “Ridiculous! Impossible!” Well then, would you believe milk cows playing a fiddle, do-si-do-ing, or waiting in line at the local movie house? Yep! Down by Farmer McPeepers’ farm you’ll see all this and more. So go on. Open Farmer McPeepers and His Missing Milk Cows. But try not to laugh. I dare you!

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Mud Pie for Mother
Mud Pie for Mother
 
 
MUD PIE FOR MOTHER
by Scott Beck
Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers
0525470409
$14.99
Ages 3 to 6

Shop! Shop! Shop ‘til you drop! Race from store to store. Search for the “perfect” gift. Sound familiar? We all do it. In MUD PIE FOR MOTHER, written and illustrated by Scott Beck, Little Pig searches the farm for the perfect birthday present for his mother.

When I was Little Pig’s age, I searched for the perfect gift, too. I dashed through the dime store aisles, two quarters, (my whole allowance) clutched in my hand, hunting for the best gift for Mother’s Day. I found it . . . an orange paisley accordion-pleated apron. It was beautiful!

Little Pig found beautiful presents too, a little flower, a bit of hay, a few seeds, even a clump of dirt . . . all perfect gifts! His mother would love them. But when Little Pig realized that they belonged to his farm friends, he wouldn’t take them. It just wouldn’t be right. Imagine Little Pig’s sadness as he headed home empty-handed. But to his surprise Little Pig’s friends each gave him a special gift for his mother. Children will delight in this story as Little Pig is rewarded for his kindness. They will see that although doing the right thing is not always easy, it is best.

Scott Beck’s simple illustrations nearly “pop” off the page. Then they draw you right back onto the farm. Beck presents a sweet and gentle story, which children will easily identify with. I mean . . . what child has not searched for the perfect present? Remember macaroni-studded picture frames and yarn-covered, frozen-orange-juice pencil holders . . . made and presented with love. PERFECT!

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KIDDLE CRITers: a critique group
KIDDLE CRITers: a critique group
 
Ahhh . . . THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS


AS A TEACHER:

I read tons of books to my class. We love to discuss them. As soon as I finish reading a book and the clapping has ceased, I ask. "Well, what did you notice?" Marc Brown hides his children's names, Tolen, Tucker, and Elisa in the illustrations of his "ARTHUR" books. Tomie DePaola usually places a little pink heart or a small white dove on every page of his books, example STREGA NONA. In THE NAPPING HOUSE by Audrey & Don Wood, it's fun to watch the circular movement of the mouse as each character naps, then awakes. But without an observing eye, these nuances would be left unnoticed. It's my job to spark student's interest to look between the lines and between the pictures.

AS A WRITER:

I write every day with my students and they get to write too. It is such fun to watch them grow as writers. Many begin only able to write a few letters, perhaps their names or the words mom or dad, or maybe a brother or sister's name. But within a few months, they can string several sentences together to make short paragraphs.

AS A TEACHER/WRITER:

This is the best!

 
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