Sunday, September 23, 2012

Amazing Picture Books This Week

    
          This post connects to a kidlit meme hosted by Jen and Kellee at TEACH.MENTOR.TEXTS.  Come link to their blog to check out all the terrific reviews by others.  
          It's Monday! What are you Reading? is another meme hosted by Sheila at BOOK JOURNEYS where many others share all kinds of books they are reading.
           If you’re on Twitter, use the hashtag#IMWAYR when sharing your link!


        Finishing Choice Words by Peter H. Johnston this week seems so appropriate because I also read five marvelous picture books, with "choice words" indeed. Don't miss any of the following books!  They entertained, made me think, and offered new ways to approach several different topics.  I am grateful to the authors and illustrators for their fine work.

And The Soldiers Sang – J. Patrick Lewis, illustrated by Gary Kelley

It's difficult for me to think that people could read this book and not realize that war is terrible, and nothing heroic can change that. It's such a gorgeous book, both story and the haunting art by Gary Kelley. I was teary by the end, and read it twice more. Go find this book and read it. And then you will realize the craft of the words, although also sad, and the beauty of the illustrations. It is poetry: "In November, grief arrived on the second hand, by sniper, shell, sleet, and snow." A young soldier tells the story in what he says is his "gilded daybook, his father's parting gift" The daybook serves another poignant purpose in the story, which you will see when you read it. Great book.



We All Went On Safari A Counting Journey through Tanzania – Laurie Krebs, illustrated by Julia Cairns

A wonderful new counting book takes readers on a journey through Tanzania, learning about the animals that live there and some names that are given to the children by the Masaai natives whose home is there. Beautiful and colorful illustrations are painted in bright primary colors with children walking along 'on safari' as they observe the animals on the journey. The backmatter is extensive, offering a short piece about the Maasai people, more Swahili words like the animal names along with the meaning of the children's names. It's a good book for beginners to learn about people from other countries.


The Princess of Borsht – Leda Schubert, illustrated by Bonnie Christensen

The illustrations of this story seem just as if someone wrote it in a journal and then illustrated it.  Happy sketching fills the pages around the words, of the young girl Ruthie, whose grandmother is in the hospital and says she must have borscht by 5 pm or she will starve!  Ruthie gets no help from her father, who takes a nap, cannot find a written recipe, but gains help from a near neighbor, a Mrs. Lerman, who drops by to see how Grandma is doing.  She claims to be the Empress of Borscht, and so the parade begins, as more neighbors drop in to add to the borscht recipe.  Ruthie is overwhelmed, but manages the soup, adding a secret ingredient of her own.  The deadline is met, with a surprise event at the end.  It’s a happy book, about family recipes passed on, and those who care enough to be proud of their cooking!

Choice Words – Peter H. Johnson

How many quotes can I possibly put on this page, not the whole book, but I would love to. I guess I'm behind in reading this, but am very glad to have read it. I have talked about it all week with those I work with and support. Here's one: Under the sub-head of "I Wonder..." "exploratory talk brings multiple minds together in work to work on the same problems." I have taken a long while because I've read and re-read the over-arching concepts. Don't miss this book!  I thought it was so inspiring that I wrote a poem of response, and you can find it here

Annie and Helen – Deborah Hopkinson, illustrated by Raul Cólón

This recent book tells the story of the four months it took Annie Sullivan's gentle and clever teaching so that Helen could understand how language worked, its purpose, and that she could use it for the communication of whatever she wishes. The illustrations follow the story with realistic, vibrant pictures, a good beginning for young students to knowledge of these brilliant people.




The Ugly Vegetables – Grace Lin
One of my colleagues has chosen to do a 'food' year with her primary students. They will study gardens, growing in the wild, different cultures, cooking, and any other topic connected to food. We share many picture books and I count it as a pleasure whenever I can find a book about food that she doesn't know. I learn a lot from her about books, but also about teaching the youngest students in our school. Recently she shared this book with me, and I am excited to review it. It tells about a young girl who wonders why her mother is planting vegetables, digging deep into the earth with a shovel while the neighbors plant flowers with trowels. It is hard work. But when the vegetables are finally grown, harvested, and made into soup, the neighbors show up at the door with flowers so they can trade for a bowl of that wonderfully smelling soup. These are Chinese vegetables, which Grace Lin so beautifully explains in the story, and adds more information in the back matter, along with the recipe. Illustrations are so colorful, filling pages with happy scenes of gardening. It's a terrific book that celebrates cultural differences in quite a tasty way.

 Still reading, and next:

I’ve been so busy that I can’t seem to get going with these first two, but they are good so far.  And, just received The Raven Boys, trying hard not to start that too.  Perhaps more time will appear magically for reading this week!

While He Was Away – Karen Schreck
Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn
The Raven Boys – Maggie Stiefvater

22 comments:

  1. I keep seeing the Annie and Helen book.... I may need to find that one. I played Helen in a drama competition in high school.

    I hope you love Raven Boys! Can't wait to hear what you think.

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    1. I imagine I will adore Raven Boys & wish I had a vacation this week so I could just sit & read. The Annie & Helen book is a reminder of those two amazing lives. Thanks, Maria.

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  2. Such fantabulous picture books. I reserved "And the Soldiers Sang" in our library, I'm hoping to pick it up this Wednesday when I do my book club session. I have a very good friend whom I feel would love this book, and I can't wait to see the illustrations as well. I have a feeling I'd fall deeply in love with this one. I tried looking for "Choice Words" in our public libraries, too bad we don't have that one here yet. I am intrigued by this one as it has inspired you to write a poem! Must be a really great book. Hopefully, in the coming year, we can have a copy of this one. :)

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    1. So glad you'll be able to see 'And The Soldiers Sang', & perhaps Choice Words will come your way soon, Myra. It's a gem. Thanks.

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  3. Thank you, Linda, as ever! I look forward to hearing what you have to say about GONE GIRL, which I finished on audio last week (18 hours!). Happy day to you. xo

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    1. My son has been in town all weekend, so little reading, but that's okay-time for it later. I'm looking forward to really getting into Gone Girl. Thanks, Irene.

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  4. I love We all Went on Safari! Such a gorgeous book. I am so excited to read The Raven Boys. Loved The Scorpio Races. I don't have a copy yet though so working on that! Did you read Scorpio Races?

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    1. Yes, read & loved The Scorpio Races. Wish it would go on... Thanks Carrie.

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  5. Five new books that I haven't seen yet! (How exciting!) You have me sold on "We All Went on a Safari". My three year old has been singing a short Swahili song that he learned at storytime, so this would be a nice connection for him. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. So glad to hear that you liked the 'safari' book too. It is a beautiful book. Hope you'll enjoy the other ones too. Thanks!

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  6. I believe I'm now in spot number 1900-something for Gone Girl. Will it be worth the wait?

    Thanks for sharing your picture book titles, Linda, they are all new to me and look lovely. Hooray for picture books.

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    1. So far, Gone Girl is great writing, but I'm not sure I love the characters yet. Will have to see. The PB's are a good group-I loved each one as you can see. It is hooray for them!

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  7. And the Soldiers Sang was haunting...both in the writing and in the illustrations. And I loved Choice Words - such a wise peek into the power of what we say and how we say it. Thanks, as always, for sharing your reading treasures, Linda.

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    1. You are welcome, Tara. Wow-I really loved And The Soldiers Sang, but I love the poetry that came out of that era too. Choice Words was amazing-I want to start Opening Minds but have too many other things to do first.

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  8. First, let me say how happy I am to see a list of picture books since I have not been able to get through a chapter book since school started--I've been focusing on professional books and mentor picture books. But, more importantly, I love Choice Words and I LOVE your poem! What an amazing piece of your work to share--thank you!

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    1. Thanks Melanie, you are so right-so little time to read! I have enjoyed the picture books a lot, however.

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  9. What a great list of books - have already added them to my list. The first sounds like a great one to use for Remembrance Day.
    I haven't read Choice Words yet altho I did buy it. I will have to for sure.

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    1. Thank Beverley. I hope you enjoy the ones you find. And The Soldiers Sang is beautiful. Start Choice Words-very interesting!

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  10. Happy to hear you liked Princess of Borscht and The Ugly Vegetables, two wonderful PBs about food! I'm anxious to see Annie and Helen; have been hearing such good things about it.

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    1. Dear Jama, I thought of you with both these foodie books-knew you'd love them too. They are great fun, & such sweet memoirs really. Thanks!

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  11. Linda,
    You should check Maggie's latest book tour dates! She's coming to Denver and Boulder in early October...
    http://maggiestiefvater.com/blog/tour-schedule-one-last-time/

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    1. Hurrah-so exciting. Thanks for telling me Katya!

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Having a conversation is a good thing!