Friday, September 25, 2020

Are you Distinguished enough?

The Society of Distinguished Lemmings
by Julie Colombet
40 pages; ages 6 - 10
Peachtree Publishing, 2020

theme: animal societies, humor, being different

Deep in their underground burrow, the lemmings follow a strict set of rules and are always very busy with social events. 

They put on plays, give concerts, play sports, and gather at large dinners. But this life isn’t for everyone, and Bertie heads up the tunnel and outside where he meets a …. BEAR! Bertie would love Bear to join the Society of Distinguished Lemmings, but can’t do anything right.

What I like about this book: When all the other lemmings decide to go swimming, Bertie discovers some unfortunate facts in his book, A Short History of Lemmings. I love that Bertie and Bear discover a different way to be “distinguished”.

Beyond the Books:

What does it mean to be distinguished? Check out the definition and a few synonyms and decide whether “distinguished” fits your style.

You can learn more about lemmings here.

Many kinds of animals live in societies. Think about ants and bees, wolves and elephants. You can learn more about animal societies here.

If you were creating a Society of Distinguished (fill in the blank) what rules would you have? And would you let bears join?

Today we're joining Perfect Picture Book Friday, an event where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's website. Review copy provided by the publisher.

Friday, September 18, 2020

Ways to Make Sunshine

Ways to Make Sunshine 
by Renée Watson; illus by Nina Mata
192 pages; ages 7 - 10
Bloomsbury Children's Books, 2020

I’m always up for reading a new book by Renée Watson, so her new middle grade novel definitely made it into my summer reading tote. Ways to Make Sunshine is the first book of what looks like a fun series for the younger MG crowd.

Ryan Hart is a fourth-grader who is trying to grow into her name. When someone says Ryan is a boy’s name, she responds, “My name is Ryan and Ryan means ‘king’ and that means I am a leader—” Oooh, I just love this girl!

Ryan loves to cook. Her brother, on the other hand, prefers plain food. He does not, as Ryan puts it, have “adventurous tastebuds.” While Ryan may enjoy adventures in the kitchen, she isn’t so excited about the adventure of moving to a new place. Then she discovers a tin left on a closet shelf, filled with wondrous artifacts, and sets off on a mission to discover who the previous owner was.

I love the slice-of-life moments, like when grandma is straightening Ryan’s hair before Easter Sunday services, the scenes at the market, and friendship worries. Then there’s the angst of what to do for a talent show when your talent is cooking. Scrambling eggs on stage just won’t fly.

I can't wait for the next book in the series!

Thanks for dropping by today. On Monday we'll be hanging out at Marvelous Middle Grade Monday with other  bloggers. It's over at Greg Pattridge's blog, Always in the Middle, so hop over to see what other people are reading. Review copy provided by the publisher.

Friday, September 11, 2020

Good Night, Mars

Night Night, Curiosity
By Brianna Caplan Sayres; illustrated by Ryan o’Rourke
32 pages; ages 3-7
Charlesbridge, 2020

theme: Mars, space, bedtime story

The first line in this story is a speech bubble. As Mom walks out the door she says, “I’m taking off for work! Have a good night!”

While Mom and other NASA scientists prepare for a Mars landing of the rover, Curiosity, Dad flies the little girl up the stairs for a bedtime story. As he tucks her under covers, she imagines what it might be like for a rover to touch down on a strange planet.

What I like about this book: I love the girl’s imagination. She and Curiosity fly through space and, once landed, set off on an adventure of discovery. They send pictures and messages back to Earth, an echo of what is going on over at NASA. I also love the illustrations of her and Curiosity on Mars, rendered in tones of sandy Martian reds.

Beyond the Books:

Postcards from Curiosity! Last month, Curiosity celebrated 8 years of exploring Mars and sent home some postcards. Make your own “postcard from Mars.

A new rover is headed to Mars. On July 30, NASA’s Perseverance Rover launched from Cape Canaveral. NASA scientists expect Perseverance to make a Mars landing on February 18, 2021. Check out this video of the launch. And here’s more information about the new rover.

Design a rover using things from your recycling bin, Legos, or whatever you have at hand. Think about how it will travel across uneven ground, and how cameras might be attached.

Today we're joining Perfect Picture Book Friday, an event where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's website. Review copy provided by the publisher.

Friday, September 4, 2020

Chapter Books for the End of Summer

What I did on my Summer Vacation: in addition to reading picture books and a stack of novels (which I’ll share over time), I read bunches of chapter books. Here are a couple that are perfect for newly independent readers.

Charlie & Mouse Outdoors 
by Laurel Snyder; illus. by Emily Hughes
48 pages; ages 6-9
Chronicle Books, 2020

Charlie and Mouse are brothers – and if you know anything about brothers then you already know that 1+1 is more than 2. In this fourth book of the series, Charlie and Mouse take a quick hike, defeat a big lion, hide in a small tent, and have a marvelous outdoor adventure.

But first they have to survive a long and boring drive. “Why don’t you make up a story,” says Dad. Charlie tries. But it’s hard, so he looks out the window for inspiration. Then flights of fancy take over and soon he’s got imaginary animals engaged in battle.

What I like about this book: There are four chapters, each focusing on a specific part of Charlie and Mouse’s outdoor adventure. The language is perfect for children ready to move from beginning readers to a book with chapters. And the illustrations are engaging. Plus there’s plenty of room for a kid’s imagination to soar.

King & Kayla and the Case of the Unhappy Neighbor
by Dori Hillestad Butler; illus. by Nancy Meyers
48 pages; ages 7 - 9
Peachtree Publishing, 2020

What I love about the King & Kayla series is the way they begin. Each book starts, "Hello! My name is King. I'm a dog. This is Kayla. She is my human." And then they are doing something – and no matter what they are doing it is King’s favorite thing! In this book they’re heading out for a W-A-L-K (I’m spelling it out in case you’re reading this aloud and your fur-pup is sitting right there).

Then King learns that his little buddy, Thor is blamed for digging up a neighbor’s garden and getting into the trash. King is on the case!

What I like about this book: King investigates clues. The garbagy mess doesn’t look like the sort of thing Thor would leave, and Cat with No Name warns him to watch out for the new guy. Meanwhile Kayla and her friend are using science and detective logic to solve the mystery. I love that Kayla makes lists of what they know and what they don’t know. This is a fun book for beginning readers who like puzzles.

You can peek at more King & Kayla books at an earlier review here. Review copies provided by the publishers.