Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Fly Guy Presents Castles

Buzz and Fly Guy go on a field trip to learn about castles in Fly Guy Presents Castles by Tedd Arnold. Buzz and Fly Guy learn about when, where and why castles were built. They see moats and drawbridges, parapets and gatehouses and watchtowers and keeps. Weapons used to lay siege to a castle include a ballista, a battering ram and a trebuchet. The latter flung heavy stones, beehives and animal poop over castle walls. I believe this is the first time "poop" and in Fly Guy's case "poopz' have made an appearance in any Fly Guy book. This will cause some giggles, I am sure. Another first is Fly Guy speaks an entire sentence completely devoid of 'z's.

A brief history of castles includes a timeline and a discussion of the Middle Ages. There are pictures of castles from France (the birthplace of castles), Spain, Britain, Ireland, Germany, Romania, Prague, Japan, Russia, India and even New York City. Lots of information about who lived in the castles, including the Lord and Lady, Knights, Jesters, Gardeners, Blacksmiths, Tailors, Kitchen Workers and pets. 

The topic was picked and voted upon by Fly Guy readers. This should appeal to kids who like fairy tales, princess books and adventure stories. This book was published on Jan 6th. Neither the Sonoma County Library nor Accelerated Reader have it listed. Most of the Fly Guy Presents books have an AR around 3.2-3.7. 




Up next is a Tedd Arnold bonus book, Vincent Paints His House. Full disclosure:  have loved Vincent Van Gogh almost my entire life. In High School, I did a self-portrait in his painting style, spent two weeks in August many years later visiting places he lived in France including the sanitarium in Saint-Remy, ate lunch at The Little Yellow House in Arles and spent a day at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam viewing his paintings in chronological order. When I found this book, I had to buy it.




The story is simple, Vincent wants to paint his house. He thinks white might be nice. The next page shows four tubes of white paint: Snow, Ivory, Titanium and Cream. A spider says, "Stop! This is MY house and I like red". The next page has four tubes of red paint, each a different shade of red. And so it goes as a caterpillar, beetle, bird, butterfly, snake, mouse and bat state their preferences. Vincent decides to use all the colors and the last page has the multi-colored house in front of the Starry Night sky. 

This is a very accessible book for a beginning reader because there is so much repetition, picture clues, an easy to read font and lots of white space. The AR is 1.1. The Sonoma County Library has four copies.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Reading Aloud

I was having a conversation just this morning with a parent about this:



Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Power of a Series

Life has been getting in the way of blogging this month but when I saw this article, The Power of a Series by Kathie Muhtaris, I had to reblog it. What caught my attention was the Nancy Drew cover attached to the article. I just passed on four old Nancy Drew books from my childhood to my four elementary school granddaughters. These books started a life long love of mysteries for me. They had been in my mother's attic for half a century and were given to me by my paternal grandmother. Kathie Muhtaris' article is about the power of series to turn kids into voracious readers. The Nancy Drew books weren't the first series I obsessively read, the  Betsy-Tacy and Cherry Ames books came first, but series books kept me reading and still do.

Series books are great for reluctant readers. If the first book is a "just right" book then it is fair to assume that others in the series will be too.

From Erica at The What Do We Do All Day website are 18 Mystery Books and Series for KidsFirst Chapter Books: Series About Boys and Series About Girls to get you started. Enjoy!


Saturday, December 10, 2016

Picture Book Gift Ideas

As promised, here are some of my favorite picture books of the past year. Books I have reviewed previously have a link to the original review embedded in their name.





Are We There Yet? words and pictures by Caldecott Medalist Dan Santat



Frank and Lucky Get Schooled words and pictures by Newbery Medalist Lynne Rae Perkins




How This Book Was Made words by Mac Barnett, pictures by Adam Rex



If You Ever Want to Bring an Alligator to School, DON'T! words and pictures by Elise Parsley



Nanette's Baguette words and pictures by Mo Willems



We Found a Hat words and pictures by Caldecott Medalist Jon Klassen




They All Saw A Cat words and pictures by Brendan Wenzel



Pug words and pictures by Ethan Long is perfect for kids just learning to sound out simple words and who know most of the Kindergarten sight words.




School's First Day of School words by Adam Rex pictures by Christian Robinson




Strictly No Elephants words by Lisa Mantchev pictures by Taeeun Yoo




That Is (Not) Mine words by Anna Kang pictures by Christopher Weyant, another great book for beginning readers.




Last Stop on Market Street words by Matt de la Pena and pictures by Christian Robinson



The Night Gardener words and pictures by Terry and Eric Fan. You will be hearing more about the Fan brothers in years to come. Their lush artwork and compelling story about community have made it a contender for the 2017 Caldecott Medal.

William looked out his window one morning to see that the tree in his front yard had been sculpted to look like an owl. The following morning another tree on Grimloch Lane turned into a cat, another day a rabbit and then a parakeet appeared, even an elephant. People came out of their houses to talk to their neighbors about the mysterious topiary. Who was creating these sculptures? One evening, William spots a man with a ladder and gardening tools. He follows him to the park. The man turned to him and asked if he wanted to help. He did. During the night they transformed the trees in the park. Tired, William  fell asleep and woke up to find a gift from the night gardener and the sound of happy people admiring their work. The seasons changed from summer to fall to winter. There was no evidence the the Night Gardener had ever been to Grimloch Lane.  But William and the town's people were never the same. 

The Sonoma County Library has nineteen copies. The AR is 2.7.




Little Penguins words by Newbery Medalist Cynthia Rylant pictures by Christian Robinson is the sweet penguin book. Five little penguins see snowflakes. Winter is coming! Hats, scarves, mittens, socks and red boots and out to sled in the snow. The snow is cold and deep. Soon it is time to go home. Jammies on, warm cookies and sippy cups; soon it is time for bed.

A simple story illustrated by my new favorite artist, Christian Robinson. His simple cut paper and acrylic paint illustrations are perfect for the text. It would be a great book for preschoolers or beginning readers, I plan to give a couple of these as gifts. The text is sparse, the font is large and easy to read and there is plenty of white space.

Thje Sonoma County Library has eleven copies. The AR is .8.




The protagonist of Penguin Problems words by Jory John with pictures by Lane Smith is a kvetch and a tad passive-aggressive. He doesn't like snow, he's hungry and fish are hard to find, he is not buoyant, he sinks like a rock and he looks like everyone else. A walrus reminds him about the good things in his life and despite the challenges he is where he is supposed to be. In an old fashioned children's book, the penguin would see the error of his ways and reform. These days, it is not that easy. He does, for a moment think about the good things in his life, but soon the complaining begins again. Remind you of anyone?

The Sonoma County Library has twelve copies. The AR is 2.0.

Some more picture book ideas from Growing Book By Book and Brightly