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

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Gift Ideas for Kids

At this time of year most of us are looking for gifts and it is also the time of year when many book awards are handed out and lists of best books of the year are compiled. The New York Public Library releases their 100 Best Books for Kids list around Thanksgiving every year. It includes picture books, easy readers (both the focus of this blog), fiction, fairy tales and folklore, graphic novels, non-fiction and poetry. There are a few books missing in my humble opinion especially in the easy reader and graphic novel categories. I hope to address that omission later in the week. 

Every year the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) awards the best fiction and non-fiction books for children. The Charlotte Huck Award for Outstanding Fiction for Children that has a potential to transform children's lives by inviting compassion, imagination and wonder. The 2017 Winner is Ghost by Jason Reynolds. They are Honor and Recommended Books as well. The NCTE Orbis Pictus Award for non-fiction went to Some Writer!: The Story of E.B. White, written and illustrated by Melissa Sweet. Honor and Recommended books are included for this category, too.

Brightly has an article about How to Use Book Awards to Find Great Children's Books. The article features the CYBILS (Children's and Young adult Bloggers' Literary Awards). The awards are given out in February but you can find the list of nominees here. One nice feature is that you can click on the title and be transported to Amazon to find out more about the book and read reviews. Some of the books have been reviewed by bloggers and there are links to those reviews, too.

That is enough to get you started on finding the just right book or books for each child on your list. Check back for my personal recommendations in December (I am still reading!).

Hat tip: Raising Readers

Sunday, November 20, 2016

We Found A Hat

We Found A Hat is the third book in Jon Klassen's hat trilogy. The first two I Want My Hat Back and This Is Not My Hat won a Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor and the Caldecott Medal respectively.

There are two turtles and one hat. The hat looks good on both of them. But it would not be right if one of them had a hat and the other did not. How do they solve this dilemma? Watch the eyes of the turtles, they tell the humorous tale. The type is large, there is plenty of white (beige, actually) space, the words are easily sounded out or are sight words and the sentences are short. Which makes this a perfect book for beginning readers.

The Sonoma County Library has twenty-two copies. The AR is 1.3.

Reading Tips

Hat tip: Brightly

Saturday, November 12, 2016

November Is Picture Book Month

Picture Book Month is an annual celebration of the importance of picture books. They are not just for toddlers. Two of the Caldecott Medal winners in the past decade were for books aimed at a much older audience: The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick and Locomotive By Brian Floca.

 Of course, many picture book subjects are aimed at younger children but the content of many is aimed at grade school kids who want to jump to chapter books as quickly as possible. There is a wide array of subjects, both fiction and non-fiction that can enhance grade school kids'  appreciation and understanding of the world around them. Check out The Picture Book Month website to hear from picture book champions why they think picture books are important.

In a wonderful article at Brightly, Tom Burns tells us I will never stop reading picture books with my kid. Yesterday I gave my youngest granddaughter Nanette's Baguette. Even though she reads chapter books on her own, she still finds  picture books delightful.

On a lighter note, also from Brightly, 8 Brutal Truths of Raising a Book Loving Child, a tongue in cheek recitation of the pitfalls of having book loving kids. 

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Nanette's Baguette

Mo Willem's sabbatical year in Paris has yielded two books for children (so far): Diva and Flea (more about that in a later post) and Nanette's Baguette. For the first time Nanette's mother sends her to the bakery to get today's baguette. This is a big responsibility. On the way she she sees her friends, Georgette, Suzette and Bret (with his clarinet!). They meet  Mr. Barnett with his pet Antoinette. Do you see a pattern here? The author finds at least two dozen words that rhyme with Nanette to use in the story. Rhyming is a great way to quickly increase your child's reading vocabulary. Back to the story. Nanette finally heads to the bakery, she buys the baguette, it is warm and it smells so good and it is so big...KRACK! She takes a bite. Does any of the baguette make it home to Mom? Does Nanette come by her love of baguettes honestly?

Here is a short video of Mo Willems creating Nanette's three dimensional French village. It is hard to tell from the photo but the 3-D look of the cover is created by using a gloss finish on the window, very eye catching.

The Sonoma County Library has seventeen copies. This book was published on October 25th and has yet to be assigned an AR level.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

How to Support Your Grandchild

Friday we are going to our youngest granddaughter's Grandparent's Day at her school. This will be the sixth Grandparent's day for us. The administration very conveniently schedules the Scholastic Book Fair at the same time. I thought of this when I read 7 Ways for Grandparents to Support Literacy from The Iowa Reading Research Center. Tip #4 is to help your grandchild build a home library. There will be plenty of library building happening on Friday! The first tip, telling stories to your grandchild(ren) about your own childhood, helps to build vocabulary and broaden their experience of the world. Other tips include reading to your grandchildren, taking them to the library and filling your home with reading material. Something I do not do enough of is write to my grandchildren. What kid doesn't like to get mail?

I was very lucky to have a grandmother who bought me books on any topic that interested me. She is the one who laid the foundation for my reading life. She not only bought me books but told me stories about her childhood, my grandfather's and my dad's. Even though she lived only 10 miles away, she still wrote me letters. I have tried to model myself after her.

Sunday, October 23, 2016


Books written by, illustrated by and both written and illustrated by Adam Rex have been falling into my lap this fall. I just discovered an earlier book, Pssst!, both words and pictures by Adam Rex. 

After our narrator buys her ticket to the zoo, she hears a loud," Pssst!" She looks around and is greeted by a gorilla with a request: a new tire swing. She agrees to help and moves on until she hears another "Pssst!" this time a javalina needs a trash can. The next "Pssst!" is from a bat in a cave asking for lots of flashlights for a hippopotamus. Everywhere she goes in the zoo there is a "Pssst!" and a request: top hats for penguins, bicycle helmets for sloths and a wheelbarrow for a baboon. How is she going to pay for this? With coins a tortoise has collected from the fountains. When she returns with all the things the animals want will they enjoy them?

Most of the words are in balloon bubbles. Despite an AR of 1.1, an average first grader in the first month of school would probably some help reading this book but by mid-year it would be an easy read. The Sonoma County Library has two copies.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

They All Saw A Cat

Since I tutor first graders in reading, I am always looking for books with engaging stories, few words, lots of repetition and large, widely spaced text. They All Saw A Cat  by Brendan Wenzel delivers.

We have one cat and many observers: a child sees a friendly, smiling cat; the dog, a more sinister, unfriendly cat and the mouse a ferocious monster cat. A fish sees the cat through a watery filter, the bee's compound eyes see a pointillist cat and a skunk sees a grey-toned cat. Sometimes what an animal sees is due to perspective: a bird sees a different cat than a flea, worm or a bat. What does the cat see when she looks in a pond?

Each of Brendan Wenzel's illustrations perfectly illustrates what each of the observers see. There is no need for kids to decode words like ferocious, pointillist or sinister. The picture tells the story. There is a good deal of Caldecott buzz about this book right now.

The Sonoma County Library has seven copies. The AR level is 1.9.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Need Some Book Ideas for Your Beginning Reader?

Finding interesting books for a new reader can be difficult. We want to find the "right" book for each child, one they want to read and one with a little help they can read. For the newest ones, you can find seasonal books with some good tips to help your emerging reader at EDventures With Kids.

For kids ready to advance to chapter books, Melissa Taylor has 30 ideas for Beginning Chapter Books with Diverse Main Characters. The great thing about these books is that many of them are part of a series.

Children's author, Doreen Cronin, wrote an article for Brightly about the joys of reading funny books with your kids. As an added bonus she gives you some suggestions and some of them like Dory Fantasmagory are part of a series.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Candlewick Sparks

Due to the success of the Mercy Watson series by Kate DiCamillo, Candlewick Press started a new series of books for newly independent readers, Candlewick Sparks. I have read three of the 34 titles. Rabbit & Robot: The Sleepover by Cece Bell, which was awarded a Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor in 2013, I reviewed that same year..

Zelda and Ivy: The Runaways by Laura McGee Kvasnosky was awarded the Theodor Seuss Geisel Medal in 2007.

Because Dad is making cucumber sandwiches AGAIN for lunch, sisters, Zelda and Ivy, decide to run far enough away so that their parents can't see them but they can see their parents. They play 14 hands of Go Fish, have a little tea party and put on their pajamas. Do their parents miss them yet? Will hunger pains make them go home? Did Dad save each one of them a cucumber sandwich?

Two more chapters follow. One is about making a time capsule and the other is about developing a secret concoction to solve Zelda's writer's block.

There are six books in the Zelda and Ivy series. The type is large and widely spaced, almost every page has a picture and the chapters are short which is ideal for emerging readers just getting into chapter books.

The Sonoma County Library has nine copies. The AR is 3.0.

In Joe and Sparky Go to School by Jamie Michalak and illustrated by Frank Remkiewicz two inhabitants of Safari Land, a giraffe and turtle, spend a day in school.

A school bus filled with kids returning to school after their field trip stops right in front of Joe and Sparky. Curious, Joe (the giraffe) and Sparky (the turtle) look in the windows at the kids, the teacher and the driver. When the driver takes off, Sparky is on the roof of the bus. Joe runs and jumps on the back of the bus to the delight of the kids inside. When they arrive at school, the near-sighted teacher's glasses break. She winds up herding Joe and Sparky into the classroom for circle time. Sparky gets a star for listening during reading. They count peas, investigate the magic pond, have music and art before the day ends. Will Joe ever get a star?

The Sonoma County Library has seven copies. The AR is 2.1. There are two other Joe and Sparky books in the series.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Word Attack Strategies

Sometimes kids need more than "sounding it out" to decode words in a story. Melissa Taylor has given us a handy tool in Word Attack Strategies. The one I use most is chunk it. Have the child cover the last part of the word with their finger and read the first part, if necessary then cover the first part of the word and read the last part and then blend.

You can print the bookmarks by clicking on the link above as a reminder for you and your student or child to remember the strategies.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

How This Book Was Made

I once had the opportunity to ask Mac Barnett at a book fair about how authors and illustrators worked together (or maybe didn't) on a book. I don't remember all the details of what he said. I thought I might find it in this book, How This Book Was Made.

The author gets an idea, then he writes his first draft which isn't as good as he hoped, so he rewrites it, in this case 20 more times until he thinks it is perfect. Then it goes to his editor who who thinks it is perfect, too as long as the author makes a bunch of changes. The manuscript goes back and forth until both the author and editor are satisfied. Then the editor sends the manuscript to an illustrator, Adam Rex. Since Adam is busy (or not) it takes a long time to get the pictures to the editor. but finally the book is ready to print in Malaysia. A pile of books so huge is printed that it can be seen from space. How do the books get back to the United States? By slow boat, of course; made even slower by an attack from a pirate ship. Lucky for us pirates don't read and aren't interested in the boat's treasure. When it gets to the harbor, the books are loaded onto a truck which delivers them to a bookstore (or Library) waiting for one final step in the book making process: a reader.

The Sonoma County Library has five copies. This book was published on Sept 6, 2016 and as of yet has not been assigned an AR level.

But that didn't answer my question about how authors and illustrators work together, so I looked at a book they worked on published in 2012, Chloe and the Lion about who is more important in making a picture book the author or the illustrated?

In Mac's story, Chloe gets lost in the woods and meets a lion, but Adam thinks a dragon is cooler. Mac begs to disagree and tells Adam to draw whatever he writes. Mac and Adam are played by claymation representations of themselves. Their conversation occurs in its own space or over Adam's drawings.Eventually the argument ends with Mac firing Adam. Just then, Hank walks out of the woods carrying  brushes and a palette and is hired on the spot to illustrate the book. Hank's lion swallows Adam whole.

Mac suggests that Hank make the lion scarier, Hank says if you want scary, why didn't you make the lion a dragon? This leads to Hank being fired. Mac decides to draw the pictures himself, but that doezn't work so well either. He wants to quit, but Chloe talks him into asking Adam to do the drawings again. This leads to a phone conversation between Mac and Adam who is trapped in the lion's belly. In order to do the drawings he need to get out. Chloe asks a woodcutter, a crone and a knight for help, but they were no help. What finally worked was a redrawn (by Mac) cartoonish lion who was so embarrassed by his not so fierce new body that he agreed to cough up Adam. Everyone is happy but Chloe, what kind of thanks does a girl get for saving the day?

So do you think that's how authors and illustrator's work together? This video and this one from Reading Rockets may get us a little closer to the answer.

There is a short  You Tube video about the making of this book that is pretty funny. The Sonoma County Library has two copies. The AR is 2.7.

All this made me wonder about how Adam Rex worked with Christian Robinson when he wrote School's First Day of School

Monday, September 26, 2016

Reading Aloud

Why should you read aloud to your child?

Read aloud tip: Have books everywhere so they are always handy.

Hat tip: Raising Readers

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Frank and Lucky Get Schooled

After a particularly bad day on the soccer field, Frank's parents take him to the pound where he gets Lucky. The two of them hit it off right away and together learn about the world. Lucky is particularly interested in Science. One day, when Lucky is investigating skunks, Frank learns about Chemistry and experimenting to see what treatment gets the best results. None of the results are acceptable to Frank's mom, so they sit outside for awhile and learn about Astronomy.

Both Frank and Lucky love Math. How many biscuits is Lucky willing to eat? How much hair can a dog shed in one week? How much does he have left? The answer to that is both a Science and a Math problem. Other questions involve the number of legs each of them have and how much birthday cake is left if someone leaves a chair pulled out from the table? Which leads to a History of dogs and humans and an answer, perhaps, of what happened to the birthday cake.  Maps and Geography are necessary when Lucky is briefly lost while learning duck language and Frank is learning some Spanish when Ana joins him to help find Lucky. Tomorrow Ana will join them in their exploration of the world around them.

Frank and Lucky Get Schooled  by Newbery Medalist, Lynne Rae Perkins answers the question for younger kids, when will I ever use this (Math, Geography, Science) in real life? The author's illustrations add information that is not in the text to make a richer story. There is a great deal of talk in education circles about the value of play, whether she intended to or not, the author has created a beautiful illustration of it.

The Sonoma County Library has five copies. There has been no AR level assigned to this book yet.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Elephant & Piggie Like Reading

Last spring, the final Elephant & Piggie book, The Thank You Book, was published. Now Mo Willems and a series of writers are bringing you the Elephant & Piggie Like Reading! series. Each book has a book within a book: Gerald and Piggie introduce each book, we read it with them and then they come back and comment on it. Like every book in the original series, there is plenty of humor and drama in each one.

The first book, We Are Growing by Laurie Keller is as Gerald (Elephant for the uninitiated) says about watching grass grow.  We meet eight blades of grass, one after another start to grow, each in their own way. One is the tallest, one is the curliest, one is the silliest and one is a dandelion. Two are pointy and one is crunchy but one, named Walt,  does not know what he is. What is that buzzing noise? It helps Walt find out. 

The Cookie Fiasco by Caldecott Medalist Dan Santat is the next book in the series. Again Gerald and Piggie introduce the book. The story involves  a crocodile, a hippo, two squirrels and three cookies. How can everyone have an equal share of cookies when there are four of them and and three cookies? After much mayhem, the answer involves a hippo who breaks things when he is nervous and division. Gerald feels hungry after reading the book and Piggie brings just the right number of cookies and glasses of milk for them to share.

The Sonoma County Library has eight copies of We Are Growing! and six copies of The Cookie Fiasco. Since both books were published today no AR level has been assigned yet. The original series had AR levels from .5 to 1.3, these books have bigger words but can be sounded out by kids with the phonics skills of mid to late first grade. The font is large and there are limited words on each page. Fans of the original series will love this one, too.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Talk Like A Pirate Day

September 19th is Talk Like A Pirate Day. In honor of this special day, a couple of pirate-related links: A Pirate's Guide to the First Grade and Talk Like A Pirate fiction and non-fiction book lists with a special added bonus of a pirate's code of conduct

Hat tip: Raising Readers

Sunday, September 18, 2016

School's First Day of School

It is the first day of school at Frederick Douglass Elementary not only for the students but for the school in School's First Day of School, story by Adam Rex and pictures by Christian Robinson. The School is a bit nervous. Will the children like him? Will he like them? The day starts out rough, there are lots of kids and some of them don't want to be at school and just as the day is getting going there is a fire drill. Things settle down after lunch in the Kindergarten. The students learn about shapes, the School learns some things, too.  The Kindergartners draw pictures using glitter and paste. One little girl with freckles, draws School. He thinks it is the best drawing of all and so does the teacher. At the end of the day, School hopes the children will be coming back tomorrow.

Christian Robinson's simple, flattened paint and collage artwork is perfect for this first day of school book. Look at the door on the school, does it look like a face to you? Which makes sense since the story is told from School's point of view.  Look for School's expression as the children arrive on the first day andthen when is thinking about them returning the next day.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

The Sonoma County Library has six copies. There is no AR level available for this book as of today.

Fly Guy Presents Weather

Buzz and Fly Guy take us on a tour of a weather station to learn about the weather in Tedd Arnold's latest book in his non-fiction series, Fly Guy Presents: Weather. Buzz and Fly Guy learn a couple of things I didn't know (or remember, same thing). Cirrus (SIR-uhs) clouds (the thin wispy ones) are made up of ice and lightening is hotter than the surface of the sun. We learn about the water cycle, hurricanes, blizzards and tornadoes. Meteorologists (mee-tee-uh-RAH-luh-jists) study and forecast the weather. Climate (KLY-muht) is what the weather is usually like in an area: temperate, tropical, desert or polar. Some places can have more than one of these climates, Antarctica is both a polar and a desert climate. Buzz and Fly Guy have some tips at the end to help keep the earth healthy: use less energy and water, recycle and plant trees.

Tedd Arnold is writing for beginning readers so he puts the phonic pronunciation in parenthesis next to harder to pronounce words so his readers will learn weather vocabulary.  As in the other Fly Guy Presents books, pictures are used to illustrate weather phenomenon like tornadoes, clouds, hail and flooded streets.

The Sonoma County Library has eight copies. The book was published this week and hasn't been given an AR level yet. The previous books in the series have ranged from 2.8 to 3.9.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Monday, September 5, 2016

Reasons to Read

Books Rock My World

Hat tip: Imagination Soup

The Great Pet Escape

Three furry friends have been rescued from the wild and are now class pets,: George Washington or G. W. in the second grade classroom, Barry in the first grade and the notorious Biter in the Kindergarten classroom. G.W. longs for the glory days of freedom and antics in the wild, so he carefully plans his escape from his cage hoping his old friends are eager to escape the confines of Daisy P. Flugelhorn Elementary School, too. He looks for Barry in the first grade classroom. He finds Barry reading a book and seemingly content but willing to go find Biter. They find Biter, now Sunflower, doing yoga in the Kindergarten. Sunflower likes being a classroom pet and has put her rowdy past behind her, but eventually G.W. and Barry convince her to join them. As they are planning their escape from the school, a mouse named Harriet and her minions confront them. There is no way she will allow them to escape from the school because that will lead to tighter security and tighter security is not good for Harriet. What follows is an increasingly slapstick effort to keep Harriet and her minions from spoiling the next day's school lunch ending in a food fight. 

Victoria Jamieson, fresh off a Newbery Honor for Roller Girl, wrote and illustrated this funny and clever graphic novel. The Sonoma County Library has eight copies and the AR is 2.8.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Horrid Henry

Speaking of funny books for early readers, because I have have a small relative named Henry, Amazon highlights kid's books for me with that name in the title. That is how I ran across Horrid Henry. The book has been out for over twenty years in the United Kingdom, it just made its way to the US a few years ago. The author, Francesca Simon, is an American expat who lives in London. The book (and its many sequels are ) are laugh out loud funny. Our hero (or anti-hero), Henry, has "an amazing talent for trouble".

There are four short stories in the book, the first one illustrates why Henry is so horrid. Henry has a little brother known as Perfect Peter. Peter says "please" and "thank you", helps make dinner, and loves vegetables. One day, Henry wonders what would happen if he were perfect. His experiment in perfection drives his perfect brother into horrid behavior. Perfectly horrid!

In the third story, Henry and his frenemy, Moody Margaret, fight over who gets to be Captain Hook, make Perfect Peter walk the plank 14 times, create a huge mess making glop and dare each other to taste it before giving some to the unsuspecting Peter.

There are dozens of books in this series. The illustrator, Tony Ross's drawings remind me a bit of Quentin Blake's drawing for the Roald Dahl books. The Sonoma County Library has three copies and many of the sequels. The AR is 3.3.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Happy National Dog Day

It is no secret that this blog likes dogs, one of the most accessed posts is Dogs at the Book Fair. Over the years we have accumulated quite a collection of books about dogs and even one that is narrated by a dog.

Gaston by Kelly DiPucchio and illustrated by Caldecott Honor recipient, Christian Robinson, features two dog families who meet in the park, a family of poodles who have a French bulldog member and a family of French bulldogs who have a poodle member. Clearly, there has been a mistake. A switch is made, can you guess how it turns out? The book is worth reading if only to read the the girl poodle names out loud: Fi-Fi, Foo-Foo and Ooh-La-La in your very best French accent. The Sonoma County Library has nine copies and the AR is 2.8.

I'm My Own Dog is written and illustrated by Caldecott Honor winner, David Ezra Stein. Our hero declares that, "I'm my own dog. No one owns me. I own myself." He takes care of everything he needs except for a little place on his back that needs a scratch that he can't reach.  A little guy scratches his back then follows him home. What is a dog to do but let him stay. He trains the little guy and soon they become best friends. The Sonoma County Library has eight copies and the AR is 1.5.

 Mrs. Birdhead has had it with Bobo's bad behavior in How To Be A Good Dog  by Gail Page. She sends him to the dog house. But Cat misses Bobo. Armed with a dog training manual, Cat  teaches Bobo to shake, fetch, heel, lie down, roll over and stay. All goes well until Mrs. Birdhead comes home from the grocery store. How does Bobo get back in her good graces? The Sonoma County Library has one copy and the AR is 1.4.

Homer by Elisha Cooper is a celebration of old dogs. Homer's family is at the beach house. does he want to play chase with the other dogs? No, sitting on the porch is fine. He also declines to explore the field, go to the beach and swim in the waves. Eventually everyone comes back and joins him on the porch and shares their adventures. Does he need anything? No he has everything he needs, he has his family. We have an old dog much like Homer, this story rings true. The Sonoma County Library has eleven copies and the AR is 1.8.

Percy loves puddles of all kinds but the one he loves most of all does not love him back because it is occupied by Mama Pig and her piglets. A big storm comes and a tree falls in the perfect puddle scattering Mama and her piglets. One is missing. Where could she be? Percy finds her and now the perfect puddle loves him back. The rhyming in this book is a great vocabulary builder.
Sonoma County Library has one copy and the AR is 2.4.

 A few more dog books reviewed over the years:

An easy reader, A Dog Is a Dog by Stephen Shaskan.

Atticus, the aforementioned dog narrator knows what is going on, his co-narrator, Ben, has no clue in Road Trip by Gary and Jim Paulsen.

Pug and Other Animal Poetry by Valerie Worth and illustrated by Stephan Jenkins is a collection of eighteen short poems about animal behavior.

Since National Dog Day is a celebration of rescue, it is only fitting that Trouper by Meg Kearney is included.

One more link from Brightly, 21 Woof-tastic Children's Books About Dogs. Enjoy!