Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday – September 2, 2015

nonfictionHere’s this week’s entry for KidLitFrenzy‘s Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesdays.

dinosaurs

Title: How Big Were Dinosaurs?
Author / Illustrator: Lita Judge
Publisher: Roaring Book Press
Publication Date: 2013
Genre/Format: Nonfiction/Picture Book 
Publisher’s Summary: Have you ever wondered what it would be like to take a Velociraptor for a walk, or try to brush a Tyrannosaur’s teeth? We think of dinosaurs as colossal giants, but how big were they REALLY?
With kid-friendly text and seriously silly illustrations, this fact-filled book puts dinosaurs next to modern animals so that you can see exactly how they size up. And a huge fold-out chart compares the dinos to each other, from the tiniest Microraptor to Argentinosaurus, the largest animal to ever walk the land.
An NPR Best Book of 2013

My Two Cents: Dinosaurs! Who doesn’t love dinosaurs? Nobody, that’s who! How Big Were Dinosaurs? is a delightful nonfiction picture book that really brings dinosaurs to life. What makes this picture book so awesome is the way it not only includes less common dinosaurs, such as leaellynasaura, but also uses modern-day equivalents to help children visualize the true size of these creatures. For example, leaellynasaura are pictured with a flock of penguins, while the famous velociraptor is shown beside a dog, to illustrate their actual size (note that the actual velociraptor was much smaller than the fictionalized velociraptors in Jurassic Park, which were actually closer in size to the larger utahraptor. Did I mention I’m still a bit of a dinosaur nut?) Author/illustrator/fellow dinosaur lover Lita Judge provides facts and figures with a smile and a sense of humour, creating an informational picture book that is sure to fascinate young readers. Highly recommended (and not just because I love dinosaurs….)!

Top Ten Tuesday – Ten Characters You Just Didn’t Click With

Top Ten Tuesday is an original meme from the awesome team at The Broke and The Bookish.

toptentuesdayThis week’s topic is a bit of a challenge – Ten Characters You Just Didn’t Click With.

I’m going to have to go outside of the children’s/YA world with this one. I’ve tried to avoid characters that I think were meant to be disagreeable, and have focused instead on protagonists, love interests, and supporting characters. Some of these I disliked, others I found bland and boring, and some I just couldn’t connect with. As always, these opinions are just my own and don’t count for anything more than that – we all like different things, that’s what makes the world such an interesting place, so please don’t be offended if your favourite character appears on my list! We can still be friends!

1. Margaret Beaufort – The Red Queen –  I appreciate that Margaret is ruthless and emotionally damaged, and that the reader is meant to respect her tenacity and determination, but I found nothing remotely compelling or engaging about this historical figure. Whiny, mean-spirited and repetitive, I couldn’t bring myself to care about her story.

2. Flavia de Luce – The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie – You say precocious, I say creepy. This eleven-year-old chemistry prodigy brews up poisonous concoctions in her secret laboratory to exact revenge on her family members, which is more unsettling than endearing. The series is meant to be tongue-in-cheek, but I found Flavia, and her freakish ability to stumble upon murder victims, not all that appealing.

3. Edward Cullen – Twilight –  A creepy, creepy romantic lead who confuses love-interest and stalker. *Shudder*

4 .Bella Swan – Twilight – ARGH. What is wrong with you, girl? He’s a creepy, controlling, undead stalker! Run away!

5 .Harry Hole – The Redeemer – An aloof, alcoholic, emotionally-scarred, romantically-challenged lone-wolf detective who clashes with authority, assembles a motley crew of subordinates, and gets results through unconventional means. *Yawn*. I didn’t hate Harry, but I found him just too predictable to really care about.

6. Anne Boleyn – The Other Boleyn Girl – I actually enjoyed this frothy, inaccurate period piece, but the portrayal of Anne bothered me. One-dimensional, over the top, and without redeeming qualities, Anne is a boring, unlikeable character who serves to make the protagonist, her sister Mary, appear even saintlier. A sad fate for a tragic historical figure.

7. Lady Julia Grey – Silent in The Grave – This heroine repeatedly confuses recklessness for independence. If an experienced professional detective (who you’ve employed) tells you, an untrained amateur, that something is too dangerous, heeding his advice makes you reasonable and intelligent, not weak. Similarly, if an experienced banker offers to manage your finances for you (keeping in mind that you have absolutely no experience in finance), accepting his offer is again not a sign of weakness. Intelligent men and women recognize the limits of their abilities and utilize the skills of their employees. This is yet another ostensibly “strong female character” who is more infuriating than inspiring.

8. Hazel and 9. Augustus – The Fault in Our Stars – Always ready with a witty response and an obscure reference, these Dawson’s Creek-esque teens just didn’t resonate with me. Maybe I was too old when I first read this book, or maybe I was just too dorky and awkward as a teen to be able to relate to these cool kids, but I just couldn’t think of Hazel and August as real people, and couldn’t connect with their stories.

10. Heathcliff and 11. Catherine – Wuthering Heights – ARGH. Two mean, nasty, selfish, petty, cruel, ruthless individuals who ruin the lives of everyone around them. I hated this supposed “romance” when I was in high school English class, and I still hate it!

Agree? Disagree? Let me know what you think of my Top Ten Tuesday list in the comments!

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – 08/31/2015

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? was initiated by Sheila at Book Journey, and adapted by Kellee at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts with a children’s/YA focus – perfect for a children’s librarian like me. This weekly roundup is a great way to discover new blogs and bloggers, share recommended (or not so recommended….) titles, and add to your ever-growing to-read list.

imwayrWith summer winding down and weekly story times starting up again soon, it’s time for me to get caught up on my picture books. Here’s a new one that would be a wonderful addition to babytime.

Bunny Roo

Title: Bunny Roo, I Love You
Author: Melissa Marr
Illustrator: Teagan White
Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books
Publication Date: 2015 
Genre/Format: Fiction/Picture Book 
Publisher’s Summary: In a gorgeous picture book that’s playfully sweet and visually captivating, New York Times bestselling author Melissa Marr and talented new illustrator Teagan White celebrate the many ways parents make their new babies feel at home. The world can seem like a big, bewildering place for new babies—fortunately, their mamas know just how to soothe and comfort them. Through enchanting scenes portraying all kinds of mama animals looking out for their little ones, the mother in this story reassures her baby, and young children everywhere, that their caretakers will always love them and keep them safe. This beautiful picture book has the feel of a classic and its heartwarming premise should make it a family favorite.

My Two Cents: Bunny Roo, I Love You is visually stunning. I’ll admit I’m a sucker for beautiful illustrations, and newcomer Teagan White does not disappoint – her vintage (perhaps even hipster)-inspired characters just tug at the heartstrings. I even love the watercolour-inspired text font. This is definitely a picture written with adults, rather than children, in mind. Older children might find the symbolic text confusing (“the baby turns into a kangaroo?”) or even boring, but caregivers will likely lap it up. Did I mention I love these illustrations? I would even hang prints from this book on my wall. Love. Bunny Roo would make a lovely baby shower gift, and I’d certainly introduce it to the caregivers in my baby times as a gentle bed time baby read-aloud that celebrates the bonds between mothers (of all kinds) and their babies.

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday – August 26, 2015

nonfictionAs a passionate nonfiction reader I knew I had to take part in KidLitFrenzy‘s Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesdays. Nonfiction can be a great way to get kids hooked on reading, and is often overlooked as an option for recreational reading.

tigeras

Title: An Ambush of Tigers
Author: Betsy R. Rosenthal
Illustrator: Jago
Publisher: Millbrook Press
Publication Date: 2015 
Genre/Format: Nonfiction/Picture Book 
Publisher’s Summary: Have you ever heard of a prickle of porcupines? Or a tower of giraffes? What about a parcel of penguins? This fun-filled romp through the animal kingdom introduces collective nouns for animals through wordplay. Clever rhymes and humorous illustrations bring these collective nouns to life in funny ways, making it easy to remember which terms and animals go together. A glossary in the back matter offers further explanation of words used as collective nouns, such as sleuth meaning “detective.”

My Two Cents: A series of clever word plays paired with comical illustrations make An Ambush of Tigers great fun. The illustrations are particularly noteworthy, with background texture reminiscent of oil paintings on canvas. Though there is an extensive glossary in the back of the book, children might still need help interpreting some of the language so as to better grasp the humour.

Early Readers Book Club – “Elephant and Piggie”

This week we celebrated the awesomeness that is Mo Willems and his “Elephant and Piggie” series of readers. The children picked their favourite Elephant and Piggie title to read – we had plenty to choose from!

As a craft, we made Elephant and Piggie paper bag puppets, using this template. The kids coloured in their Elephants and Piggies, cut them out and pasted them onto paper bags for an easy and cost-effective craft that worked on a number of different skills. Colouring and cutting help children develop their fine motor skills, and are a lot of fun.

puppet1epuppet2e

Once our puppets were complete we took turns acting out some of the different E&P stories! The kids really got into their roles, putting on different voices for the different characters.

Only one more book club session to go! :(

Passive Activity – Elephant and Piggie

Kids at the library love colouring. I wanted to put out a passive activity that would encourage even more creativity, so I printed this “make your own Elephant and Piggie story” template and spread copies out on a table with a box of pencil crayons.

The response has been adorable, as kids eagerly make their own Elephant and Piggie stories. I didn’t put out any instructions or prompts – I wanted kids to use their imaginations and put their own unique spin on the activity.

piggie1One little boy pulled the entire Elephant and Piggie collection to use as reference!

piggie2The fun never stops at the library, even when there aren’t any structured programs running.

Early Readers Book Club – “Moo!”

Sometimes all you need is one awesome activity to keep the kids engaged all hour long.

This week we read the hilarious Moo! by David LaRochelle.

Moo!

Then we made our own versions of Moo featuring animals of our choosing!

This must be the easiest, budget-friendliest kids activity there is – all you need is a stack of plain paper and various colouring implements. We simply folded our papers in half to make rudimentary booklets, which we then stapled together.

Bk3

We worked on this craft for the entire hour, and the room was so quiet you could’ve heard a pin drop. The level of concentration was impressive.

Bkcollage1

bkcollage2

This week’s activity was so much fun and so popular, I don’t know how I can top it next week! I highly recommend trying an activity like this with school-aged kids – their creativity is always a thing of wonder.