Friday, November 26, 2021

Home Alone.....


Henry at Home 
by Megan Maynor; illus. by Alea Marley 
40 pages; ages 4-7
Clarion Books, 2021

theme: family, growing up, school

As long as there had been Henry and Liza, they were together.
Liza and Henry.
Henry and Liza.

They shared friends, adventures, and the marvelous Twisty Tree. But one day, Liza got a backpack and new pencils and fresh crayons and her very own pair of scissors. She was getting ready to go to school – and Henry was NOT happy about that! Because, up to this point, they had Done Everything Together. When the bus roars away, Henry roars, too!

What I like about this book: I like the close relationship between Henry and his sister. I like how Megan shows his jealousy that Liza gets to go to school, but he has to stay home. But what I really like is how Henry discovers that he can do his favorite things on his own. And when Liza returns from school, he has something special he can share with her.

Beyond the Books:

How do you feel when an older sister, brother, cousin, friend, gets to start a new adventure and you’re left behind? Draw a picture or tell a story about how you feel. Do you roar? Stomp your feet? Hang out on the swings at a park and create new ways of swinging?

If you go to school, what are your favorite school supplies? Do any of them have a smell that you associate with going to school? I confess, I love the smell of new crayons!

Think of something you can do with a younger or older sibling that you only see after school. Maybe it’s a favorite game. In our house it was listening to an audio book and coloring.

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, November 19, 2021

Journalists defend Free Speech


Fearless: The Story of Daphne Caruana Galizia, Defender of Free Speech 
written & illus. by Gattaldo 
32 pages; ages 7-9
‎Candlewick, 2021

theme: courage, biography, free speech,

In a house by the sea, on the island of Malta, lived a little girl named Daphne, together with her mom, dad, and three sisters.

Daphne loved stories ~ especially the story of her great-great-great-great-grandfather who fought against Napoleon. She loved reading books, and carried one with her wherever she went.

“And she loved the freedom of asking questions and then making up her own mind,” writes Gattaldo who, not only wrote this book, but also happened to be one of Daphne’s close friends. Daphne protested injustice and wrote for a newspaper. She was an investigative reporter, uncovering human rights abuses and other wrongdoings. 

What I like about this book: It’s about a courageous woman who tries to reveal truth about those in power. It’s about fighting for justice using a pen instead of a sword. And there is back matter! That's where we learn more about her life, and how those in power worked to silence her.

Beyond the Books:

Write a news story. What’s happening in your town or neighborhood that you think people should know about? Find out the facts and write them up in a newsy story to share with your friends. See if your friends want to help write a neighborhood newsy-letter.

Students, from 6th grade to 12th, are writing and publishing the local newspaper in Pelham, New York. They started doing this when the local paper went out of business. You can see what they write about here.

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, November 12, 2021

A Tale of Two Audreys


Audrey L and Audrey W: Best Friends-ish
by Carter Higgins; illus. by Jennifer K. Mann 
184 pages; ages 6-9
Chronicle Books, 2021

It’s always fun to dive into the first book in a new chapter book series. And after hearing about Audrey L. and Audrey W, I could not wait! 

It’s the beginning of the school year, and Audrey is super-duper-duper sure that second grade will be twice as fun as first. Plus they get to put on a play – with costumes and everything! But second grade isn’t turning out to be so great after all. Sure, there are all kinds of new things to learn and do, but the teacher stuck Mimi’s artwork at the top of the filing cabinet, and Audrey’s is stuck somewhere in the middle. And Diego, who was Audrey’s first friend in first grade won’t even tell her any jokes.

And to top it off, Audrey isn’t even the only Audrey in class. There’s a new Audrey, so now Audrey has to go by Audrey L. and the new girl by Audrey W.

Maybe, though… just maybe they could become best friends?

What I like about this book: I love that Audrey W.’s reputation precedes her: she’s eaten crickets! And I like how Audrey L. tries to welcome the new Audrey, and befriend her … and make friendship mistakes. Fortunately, second grade friendship mistakes can sometimes be put to rights – if one makes the effort. I also like how Ms. Fincastle refers to her students as her “little chickens” and I love her list of classroom jobs: plant waterer, recycling boss, welcome ambassador, and my fave, paper passer-outer. 

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, November 5, 2021

Need Mittens? Get a Sheep!


If You Want to Knit Some Mittens 
by Laura Purdie Salas; illus. by Angela Matteson 
32 pages; ages 4-8
Boyds Mills Press, 2021

theme: friendship, patience, humor

1. Get a sheep. Seriously.

According to Laura Purdie Salas, there are eighteen steps to knitting mittens. The first one is obvious: get a sheep. Once you get that sheep, you’ve got to feed her, and keep her warm and dry. And then you’ve got to give her a buzz cut, wash the wool …. So Many Things To Do until you can finally knit your mittens. And throughout it all there is this sheep – who sometimes helps – and maybe your dad, who also might help, and quite possibly some chickens.

What I love about this book: I love tongue-in-cheek guide books, especially when they provide real instructions while the illustrations show what is “really going on”. In this book, the instructions for how to get from sheep-to-knitting needles are on point … and, except for the sheep (and the actual knitting) I have done them all. Wash wool. Dry it. Card it. Dye it. 

These things take time. Especially when you decide, at the last minute, that you want to dye your wool the color of sunshine and the Natural Dye Book says you need marigolds and you haven’t planted any marigolds – yet. So… there is a lot of waiting that also goes into making mittens. But all that waiting is worth it because that’s how you discover the meaning of true friendship.

Beyond the Books:

Finger knit a flower. You don’t need knitting needles to learn some knitting basics. All you need is some pretty yarn, this tutorial, and some patience. If you get addicted to finger knitting, find a hoop and weave a coaster (embroidery hoop), or a rug (hula-hoop).

Try making natural dye using beets. You can use juice from cooked beets to paint your own gift wrap, or use beet tops to stamp designs on a napkin, or use beets and other things (onion skins, rose hips and berries outside) to do bundle-dying.

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.