A Sentimental Read

Little Blue Chair by Cary Fagan is reminiscent of The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein.  A young boy named Boo has a special relationship with his little blue chair. When he outgrows the little blue chair, his mother places it on the lawn along with a sign that reads Please Take Me.

 Just like that begins the journey of the chair from one place to the next, serving a specific purpose until the user no longer needs it and places it out for someone else to take. The little blue chair becomes a stool for a potted plant to sit upon and a seat for children to take rides on an elephant.

Wherever the little blue chair goes it solves a problem, encourages imagination, and brings people together. One imaginative little boy ties a bunch of balloons to the chair so that it may carry him up into the sky, but before he sits down it flies away. Landing in the yard of a long lost friend who has the perfect use for it.

 Little Blue Chair is a beautiful story that pays homage to a simple household item that plays an important role in one’s life. When the person no longer has a use for the item, it is passed along to someone else who can repurpose it and treasure it in his own way.

Madeline Kloepper’s gorgeous illustrations include minute, hidden details and multiple scenes on a page which compliment the text perfectly. At times the movement from left to right across the page captures the passage of time in a subtle and thoughtful way.

Click here to purchase a copy of Little Blue Chair (affiliate link).

I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 

Free Rain!

Free Rain written by Daniel Wentzel and illustrated by Jose Lucio invites a conversation about the treatment of farm animals and what free range actually means.

The story starts out with 6 chickens, each a different color from which its name is derived, living in cages. Rumors begin to circulate and somehow the cages disappear and the chickens are allowed to roam free. Each chicken responds differently to this change, from excitement to fear and anxiety. It forces the reader to ask, is it natural for a chicken to be pent up in a cage?

Free Rain follows the journey as each chicken musters the courage to venture outside of the cages that once held them prisoner. They learn to enjoy their freedom and time spent outside.

Free Rain is an impactful story with a powerful message. I love that Daniel Wentzel and Jose Lucio want to engage kids in a dialogue about the treatment of animals and where food comes from, whether that’s the chickens themselves or their eggs.

Click here to purchase a copy of Free Rain (affiliate link).

I received a complimentary copy of Free Rain in exchange for my honest review.

Heave Ho!

A young worm is on his way outside to play when a hungry bird sees him. A second worm comes to the first worm’s rescue. The bird calls for help, and a cat joins forces with the bird (an unlikely partnership). Just when the worm thinks his fate is sealed, a third worm joins in. The expressive face of the first worm lets you know when he’s feeling hopeful versus hopeless.

The phrase Heave Ho! is repeated throughout this delightfully playful picture book. Readers of all ages will wonder how this story will turn out. Will all three worms survive? Will the unlikely teamwork among bird, cat and dog last?

Heave Ho! is Jose Lucio’s first book as author and illustrator. We are excited to see what other clever and fun books he comes up with!

Click here to purchase a copy of Heave Ho! (affiliate link).

 

Picture Books about Waiting

For kids and for adults waiting can sometimes be a challenge. I love picture books that teach the importance of slowing down and being patient. Check out these two new books that teach this important life skill to even the youngest of readers.

Tractor Mac: Worth the Wait by Billy Steers is the latest in this wonderful farm-themes series for kids. Farmer Bill is examining the garden at Stony Meadow Farm and admiring this watermelons. He thinks aloud, that with any luck one of the watermelons will be good enough to enter in the annual Fruit and Vegetable Show. Tractor Mac and the pigs Pete and Paul are determined to help Farmer Bill by speeding along the process.

Though their intentions are good, they learn the hard way that the best way to grow a watermelon is to give it time. This is a wonderful story that kids will relate to easily. Not to mention there is an entire website dedicated to this fun series with great activities for young readers (http://www.tractormac.com/index.html).

What Are You Waiting For? by Scott Menchin is an adorable picture book about good friends badger and rabbit on the quest for something special. Badger encounters Rabbit early one morning and asks what he is waiting for. Rabbit remains intentionally vague and inquisitive Badger asks a ton of questions to try to figure out what he is waiting for.

The illustrations by Matt Phelan are fun and dynamic and compliment the text beautifully. Overall, What Are You Waiting For? is a terrific book about friends spending the day together and sharing some pretty special moments together as they wait.

Click here to purchase a copy of Tractor Mac: Worth the Wait and What Are You Waiting For?

*I received complimentary copies of these books in exchange for my honest review.

 

Building a Community Garden

Green Green: A Community Gardening Story by Marie Lamba and Baldev Lamba is a wonderful picture book for promoting environmental awareness for young readers ages 2-6. Written in simple, poetic form and accompanied by vibrant, dynamic illustrations, Green Green follows the transformation of the land and the way a group of community members work together to restore some elements of nature.

The story starts with a group of kids playing in an expansive field, filled with beautiful flowers and butterflies.

Gradually, the natural landscape evolves into a cityscape and the green and brown are replaced by browns and grays of digging and construction. The green in each scene is reduced to a small potted plant here and there or a solitary tree.

The members of the community see the potential for creating a community garden on a small plot of land. They work hard to remove litter and garbage to restore a small piece of nature among the hustle and bustle of the busy city.

Green Green is the perfect picture book for exposing young children to the concept of environmentalism and showing them some simple ways that they can feel empowered to make a difference. The illustrations by Sonia Sanchez are breathtakingly beautiful, subtle yet powerful. They bring the simple yet impactful text to life and give readers a lot to talk about.

Click here to purchase a copy of Green Green A Community Gardening Story (affiliate link).

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Promoting a Love of Math from a Young Age

Danica McKellar (also known as Winnie from the Wonder Years who went on to major in math at UCLA) wrote an awesome book, Goodnight Numbers. This is the perfect bedtime picture book that teaches a love of numbers and math from a young age. This seemingly simple picture book has many carefully planned details that encourage kids to see numbers and math all around them in their everyday contexts. There are many opportunities for the reader to count up to the designated number by looking at Alicia Padron’s lovely illustrations. Each page includes a tens-frame a math tool kids become very familiar with once they start school to support their counting by ones and eventual skip counting.

Promoting a love of math from a young age is so important. Giving kids to see math in real life contexts allows them to see firsthand how relevant math is to their everyday lives. As a result, they are much more engaged and open to learning math at school.

Click here to purchase a copy of Goodnight Numbers (affiliate link). 

 

We’re All Wonders

We’re All Wonders by R.J. Palacio is the perfect companion picture book to Wonder. As a teacher, I’ve never seen a book capture the attention of a more diverse group of readers as Wonder. I was delighted to see that it’s powerful message has been perfectly captured in a picture book for younger readers.

Auggie is a young boy who is ordinary in all ways except for his appearance. Even though his mom thinks he’s a wonder, but many people cannot see beyond they way he looks to see him for who he really is.

We’re All Wonders is not only about accepting the differences of one child, but acknowledging that which makes us all unique and embracing that.

We’re All Wonders is a must-have for every home and school library to teach kids from a young age that we are all different whether that is our appearance, our religion, the languages we speak, etc. and that is not only okay, it is wonderful.

Click here to purchase a copy of We’re All Wonders (affiliate link).

 

A Wonderful Picture Book about Ramadan

Lailah’s Lunchbox is the perfect introduction to Ramadan for young students. Lailah is finally old enough to participate in fasting during Ramadan and she is very excited. Her mother writes a note to her teacher, Mrs. Penworth, explaining that Lailah should be excused from lunch in observation Ramadan. Lailah is worried that her teacher and classmates will think that she is strange for fasting or that they won’t know what Ramadan is, so she keeps the note to herself and acts as if she has forgotten her lunch. When her friend Anna offers to share her cream rolls with Lailah, she sits quietly and begins to second-guess her decision to fast.

Lailah asks to go to the library, where she confides in the librarian Mrs. Carman all that is on her mind. Together they come up with the perfect way for Lailah to open up to her teacher and to share with her all about Ramadan.

Lailah’s Lunchbox is a fantastic story based on Reem Faruqi’s own life experience moving to the United States and explaining what Ramadan is to classmates and friends in Peachtree City, Georgia. This story captures many different and important social issues, including moving somewhere new and different religions. This story emphasizes the humanity of the children and their experiences and promotes understanding and empathy of others.

Lailah’s Lunchbox is a must-have in every classroom library. It is the perfect read for kids ages 6-9. This year, Ramadan begins May 26 and lasts until June 25.

Click here to purchase a copy of Lailah’s Lunchbox (affiliate link).

 

Interactive Picture Books for Young Readers

I discovered Fly! by Xavier Deneux in the recent arrival section of our local public library branch. It is a stunning board book with movable pieces that complements the story perfectly. Bird arrives at the foot of a tree after a long journey. Time passes and a friend arrives and joins her in the tree. Together they build a nest and raise two baby chicks. Fly! is a sweet story perfect for the youngest of readers. The smallest of hands will enjoy manipulative and maneuvering the pieces from one page to the next in order to help the story develop.

 

Press Here by Herve Tullet is another delightful read. Follow the directions presented on each page to embark an adventure of fun and imagination. Begin by pressing a single yellow dot and on the next page discover two yellow dots. Press the dot again and now there are three! Press Here is a great read. Even as an adult I enjoyed reading it and seeing the cause and effect relationships that spanned the pages. Let’s Play! is the third book of the series and captures the same whimsy as the first two books with even more movement and unexpected outcomes.

Click here to purchase copies of Fly!, Press Here and Let’s Play! (affiliate links).

The Grandest Canyon

Grand Canyon by Jason Chin is a phenomenal non-fiction picture book packed with the history and science behind the formation of one of the seven wonders of the world. More than just a large whole in the ground, the Grand Canyon is home to many different types of plants and animals. In fact the conditions vary so much from level to level of the canyon that each layer sustains a different type of plant and animal life entirely! How cool is that?

Jason Chin tells “the story” of the Grand Canyon as a father and daughter pair embark on a camping trip. Diagrams are great text features in helping the reader better understand complicated scientific concepts including erosion.

This book includes flashbacks in time so the reader can better understand how the Grand Canyon was formed by the movement of different bodies of water over time. For example, this illustration accompanies the description of what the Grand Canyon would have looked like 1.2 billion years ago when the only things living on Earth’s surface were tiny microbes. This mud would eventually transform into a layer of rock that became part of the canyon.

Grand Canyon is packed with many different lenses through which the reader can learn about this amazing natural phenomenon.  Jason Chin leaves us with a breathtaking four-page spread of the Grand Canyon that adds to the awe and wonder he inspires throughout the book.

Click here to purchase a copy of Grand Canyon (affiliate link).

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1596439505/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1596439505&linkCode=as2&tag=g505-20&linkId=288c64b0ee4ab7b68c0510fbb97797de

*I received a complimentary copy of Grand Canyon in exchange for my honest review.