Monday, December 8, 2014

Recommended Picture Book: Too Many Tamales by Gary Soto

Title: Too Many Tamales

Author: Gary Soto

Illustrator: Ed Martinez

Publisher: Puffin, August 8, 1996

Age: 4-8 

Topic: Cooking, Ceremony and Tradition, Extended Families, Mexican and Mexican American
Christmas, Problem Solving, Taking Responsibility for Mistakes.

Opening: Snow drifted through the streets and now that it was dusk, Christmas trees glittered in the windows.

Summary: Maria tries on her mother's wedding ring while helping make tamales for a Christmas family get-together. Panic ensues when, hours later, she realizes the ring is missing.

Resources: Find a discussion guide for the book here. Too Many Tamales writing prompt. Find a teacher's guide for the book here filled with fun activities that include art, writing and language, math and cooking, games and more.

Why I Like the Book:
Too Many Tamales teaches children the meaning of being responsible for their mistakes. It teaches problem solving and team work.It reinforces the importance of being truthful and honest. It does all of this in a warm and gentle manner that is not overly pushy and with humor as well.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Book Review: Ellie and Ace: The Case of The Bed Time Bandit.

Meet Ellie and Ace!

Soon to be…


Just about…

World-famous detectives!

Well, almost.

Any day now, if they solve enough cases.

And good news! They are on a case now. Someone is causing trouble all over their small town of Huckleberry Springs. Each night, the troublemaker strikes – breaking into houses, spilling garbage, and stealing toys. Nobody knows who the culprit is, but everyone blames someone else. Ellie and Ace have to solve the mystery fast – before their neighbors go to war.

My Review:
I can see this being a fun story for early readers. I have always adored books with child and animal detectives growing up so this is definitely for children who love pets and mysteries.

The story follows Ellie and her pet dog Ace as they try to uncover the mystery of who is behind the tipping of trash cans, theft, and other messes around the neighborhood. Ellie and Ace decide to set a trap to flush out the culprit. They are mighty surprised when they catch the thief red-handed or, all tied up! (pun intended so read the book :D)

With short chapters and easy to read text, children between the ages 6-8 who enjoy mysteries and animal antics may find this a fun read.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Recommended Picture Book: Mr. Squirrel and the Moon by Sebastian Meschenmoser

Title:  Mr. Squirrel and the Moon

Author: Sebastian Meschenmoser

Illustrator: Sebastian Meschenmoser

Publisher: North South Publisher Inc, January 1, 2015

Age: 4 - 8

Topic: Moon, Woodland animals, Problem solving, Teamwork, Humor

Opening: One morning Mr. Squirrel woke up because the moon had fallen onto his tree.

Summary: When Mr. Squirrel awakens to find that the moon has landed on his tree, he frantically tries to get rid of it before someone suspects him of stealing it and puts him in jail. But when he rolls the moon off of his tree, it's gets stuck on Mrs. Hedgehog's bristles and when the billy-goat arrives and butts it with his horns . . . Will the moon ever be the same again?

A few extended learning activities could include learning about the moon and moon phases as you see at least three of them in the book.

Learn about squirrels, their habitat, what they really like to eat and enjoy some squirrel crafts here and here.

Have children suggest ways the animals could put the moon back in the sky

Try out this adult-supervised cheese recipe: Paneer cheese

My Review:
What would you do if the moon landed on your doorstep or just outside your window?
This was a really cute story. A squirrel is awakened when what he thinks is the moon crashes onto his tree. He frantically tries to get rid of it so that he is not suspected to be the thief. What ensues next are hilarious ways other animals in the woods get involved and how they eventually send the "moon" back to where it belongs. I enjoyed the very engaging artwork and the humorous antics of the different animals! Children learn basic teamwork and problem solving skills following the misadventures of Mr. Squirrel and his woodland neighbors.

Disclaimer: I received an egalley of this book from the publisher for my honest review. The book will be published in January of 2015.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Recommended Picture Book: A Flower in the Snow

Title: A Flower in the Snow

Author: Tracey Corderoy

Illustrator: Sophie Allsopp

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, December 1, 2012

Age: 4-8

Theme: Friends, Friendship

Opening: In an icy kingdom faraway, lived a little girl called Luna.

Summary: Luna and Bear are best friends. They go together like peanut butter and jelly. Everything they do, they do together. Luna and her polar bear friend (Bear) discover a beautiful gold flower growing in the snow. But when the flower fades, Bear goes on a search around the world for another to bring to Luna. It's only when he returns home that the true strength of their friendship is revealed.

Ten Fun Winter Activities that goes with the book.
Make yellow paper flowers to stick in your snow-covered yard. Don't have snow? Create snow by gluing cotton balls to a cardboard box, then, add your yellow flowers.
Grow your own yellow flowers. Follow the instructions on the back of seed packets.
Learn about polar bears and their habitat, Enchanted Learning, BBC Nature Wildlife, Kidzone, and Polar Bears International.  

Why I like the book:
Luna and Bear show children, in a gentle way, just what friendship really means. Children see that Luna and Bear love to do things together. When Bear gives Luna a special flower, she cherishes it. When the flower dies, Luna becomes very sad and Bear goes off to find her another one. What Bear doesn't know, is that Luna misses him very much and is sad that he is gone. She has a big surprise for him when he returns home.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Recommended Picture Book: Nightsong by Ari Berk

Title: Nightsong

Author: Ari Berk

Illustrator: Loren Long

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers; September 25, 2012

Age: 4-8

Theme: Bats, Adventure, Growing up, New experiences, Echolocation

Opening: The sun had set, and the shadows clinging to the walls of the cave began to wake and whisper. “Chiro? Little Wing?” the bat-mother said to her child. “Tonight you must fly out into the world, and I will wait here for you.”

Summary: A young bat sets out on an adventure during his first solo flight to the pond to eat.

Enchanted Learning has bat resources that include crafts, activities, worksheets and more.
A short video of a Fishing Bat
Check out these Echolocation Facts.
Here is a song about echolocation that will have the kids jamming to the beat!
Bats 4 kids has bat resources including games, quizzes, facts and even instructions on how to build a bat house.
Check out BBC for more information about bats and other animals that use echolocation

Why I like the book:
What drew me to the book to begin with was Chiro! He is the cutest little bat I have ever seen! He has curiosity written all over his face! The illustrations are absolutely astounding. While it is a dark book, the colors were vivid. I especially loved the contrast between the black/gray of the night and the detailed colors in Chiro's echo field.
The author and illustrator did a great job complimenting each other, however, I feel like it was a bit long for the younger (4ish) crowd. I can see a few kids I know having quite a few questions about the book. But I think questions are great, that is how children learn!