Farfallina and Marcel

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Farfallina and Marcel tells the story of two unlikely friends and the way the find each other again after they both undergo some changes.

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Farfallina the pink caterpillar, meets Marcel the gray gosling one rainy day, and they quickly become friends. They play hide and seek together, and Marcel gives Farfallina rides across the pond.

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One day Farfallina begins to feel uncomfortable, and she tells Marcel that she just wants to go take a break up high on a branch. Marcel says he’ll wait for her, but she doesn’t come back down for a long time. He misses his friend a lot and continues to look for her, and as time passes, he notices that his appearance is changing.

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Finally, after many weeks, Farfallina emerges from a cocoon of silk as a butterfly, with no idea how long she’s been gone. She decides to wait for Marcel, but when she can’t find him, she flies to the pond to search for him. Finally, many days later, she meets a grown goose and they talk about how they’re both missing their friend. All of a sudden, they realize who they are each talking to, and Marcel and Farfallina are truly reunited!

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The pair quickly catch up and become good friends again before eventually deciding to both fly south together. I thought this book accomplished many things, the most important of which being telling the story of true friendship. The book also helps teach children about how a caterpillar becomes a butterfly, how animals/goslings can grow up, and how change is normal. Farfallina and Marcel tells a delightful story that many children would enjoy and learn from, and I would recommend it.

Alex Wolfe

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I Will Take a Nap! by Mo Willems

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I Will Take a Nap! by Mo Willems is part of the Elephant and Piggie collection. This book tells the story of a cranky Elephant who goes to take a nap. He is soon joined by Piggie who wants to take a nap with him. Willems simple characters convey lots of emotion though their facial expressions (eyes, mouth, etc.). In addition to this on some pages he uses additional elements to convey emotion, such as a soft glow used to represent the warmth of friendship when Piggie joins him.

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Willems also does a great job of using the typography to give the readers clues as to how they should read the text aloud. He uses smaller descending words to demonstrate Piggie falling into a deeper quieter sleep, contrasting this with colorful large typography for his loud snoring outbursts.

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Soon it is revealed that all of this snoring nonsense occurred in Elephant’s dream when Piggie begins to float.

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Elephant then begins to hallucinate images of Piggie with a turnip head. It is clear at this point that this could not be happening in real life, but if readers look carefully they can notice that there were clues that this was a dream from the beginning. When Piggie was first introduced he was in a thought bubble that was a light shade of green. All of the pages that are this light green shade are part of the dream, which contrast with the real world scenes which contain white backgrounds. This book could also be a good tool to teach children about the difference between a thought bubble and a speech bubble.

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In the end, when Elephant sees Piggie in the real world he calls him “turnip head” and Piggie is confused. Children find this particularly funny because they feel like they are “in on” the joke with Elephant that Piggie does not understand. Overall I would recommend this book because it teaches kids about reading with emotion. Also the way Willems uses speech bubbles makes the reader feel like the characters are talking directly at them which makes them feel like they are a part of the story, keeping them both engaged and excited about the text.

-Brianna Ortega

Jack’s Worry

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Jack’s Worry

Jack’s Worry by Sam Zuppardi encourages children to confront their fears. Jack is a little boy who is excited about playing his trumpet in concert. However, in the time leading up to the concert, his “Worry” won’t stop following him! Jack is nervous and afraid that he will make mistakes and disappoint his mom. The worry is illustrated as a dark, large, blue and gray blob. The story personifies the Worry to show the impact it has on Jack.

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He can’t shake the Worry until he finally looks it in the eyes and faces it. He is then able to admit his worry to his mom and talk it out. After getting it off his chest and gaining his mother’s reassurance, his worry shrinks.

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When Jack arrives to the concert, he realizes all his friends also have dark worry blobs following them. The illustrations show Jack helping his friends face their worries. This shows readers that it’s normal to be nervous, but it’s okay because no one is perfect. The message is that the most important part is enjoying yourself! In the end, all their worries are so small that they are too busy enjoying themselves to worry about any mistakes.
I love this book’s positive message for children. It can be helpful for dealing with something probably every child goes through. It is appealing with its illustrations of watercolor paintings and pencil drawings that remind you of child art.

-Jamaria Southward

 

Bird, Balloon, Bear

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Bird, Balloon, Bear is a story about finding the courage to make a friend written and illustrated by Il Sung Na.

It starts out with Bird moving to a new forest and meet Bear. Wanting to be his friend Bird pushes through his shyness and musters up the courage to talk to Bear but it’s too late, he already has another friend.

Distraught Bird watches on as Bear and Balloon have lots of fun while they play, dance, and watch the sunset together.

Everything seems to be going well until one day the wind is blowing especially hard and blows Balloon away. Bird leaps into action and flies as hard and fast as he can catch the balloon, but it’s too late.

Bear and Bird look on at what is left of Balloon, and Bear finally introduces himself to Bird, and Bird now has the courage to introduce himself back. After that, they play, dance, and watch the sunset together.

This story is a light-hearted way to help kids address shyness when it comes to making new friends. By watching Bird work through his shyness children can see that it is not hard to talk to and make new friends.

 

Jamie Williams

 

Beep, Beep, Maisy

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Beep, Beep, Maisy is an expansion on the work of author and illustrator Lucy Cousins. Already holding over fifty titles, the Maisy Mouse series includes both picture books and a television program which detail the lives of Maisy and her animal friends. This board book, published on September 5th, is the most recent addition to the collection.  


Characteristic of the other Maisy books, this solid paperboard book features a limited deep, solid color palette with thick black outlines. The flaps on each page allow a child, typically 18 months or older, to engage in the book along with their caregiver. The story begins with Maisy finishing up at the gas station and then going for a car ride through her town.

Along the way, she encounters Charley, Dotty, Peacock, Ostrich, Eddie, Tallulah, and Cyril. Each page includes Maisy taking note of the mode of transportation utilized by her neighbor, whether it’s a helicopter, fire engine, or bicycle. She then greets them with a “beep, beep!” from her horn, and is met with a different onomatopoetic sound from each kind of vehicle: a “nee-ah, nee-ah!” from the fire engine, for example, or a “honk honk!” from the bus.

The story concludes with a surprise traffic jam, which causes all of the neighbors to line the street with their noisy contraptions. Each sound is pictured with its respective vehicle in the order that Maisy met them, and the characters are seen getting out of their buses and trucks to interact with one another.

This book is perfect for the targeted one-and-a-half-and-up-bracket, as it could be used much longer than the beginning toddler stage. The deep greens, blues, and reds help the book to be both calming and entertaining, making it useful for anything from a bedtime story to a read-aloud. Children familiar with the Maisy Mouse series might be excited to see familiar faces in the book, but its simple plot line is also easily accessible for children who are new to the story. The sounds in the book provide another great avenue for entertainment- a mild-mannered “beep-beep!” followed by a whirring, rapid-fire “chop-chop-chop-chop!” would be sure to keep kids on their toes.

The flaps in the book also provide for an expandable age range. While a toddler still developing sensory motor skills might enjoy pulling the flaps down, an older child might enjoy seeing how they connect to the other pictures or hold surprises. A flap on Cyril’s bus, for instance, includes an adorable family of top-hat-wearing turtles. The flaps could also interest children in how machinery works: several flaps include smoke coming out of smokestacks, or give a peek into an engine or how a helicopter’s blades rotate. These flaps are also noteworthy for their detail: the illustrations extend onto the reverse side of the flap, so that the entire paper is encompassed into the picture. This allows for special actions and processes to be shown: the cloud has raindrops sprinkling out of it, or the ladder on the fire truck really does expand.

This book provides examples of friendliness, through Maisy’s greetings, and patience, through the traffic jam in the conclusion. Its depth ensures that it may be read many times over, and it is sure to be loved by a wide range of ages, from Maisy fans to newcomers alike.

 

Olivia Rastatter

 

Tacky the Penguin

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Tacky the Penguin written by Helen Lester and illustrated by Lynn Munsinger is truly a children’s literature classic. How is being different a good thing? Let Tacky share his story with you…

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Tacky the Penguin is an odd bird, he doesn’t do things like his companions Goodly, Lovely, Angel, Neatly, and Perfect do. Tacky greets his friends with a “hearty slap on the back” and always does “splashy cannonballs” off the iceberg. His companions always march 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4, but Tacky has his own way of marching.

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Because Tacky does things differently, his friends don’t pay much attention to him or include him in their activities like singing. Everything changes when one day the penguins of the iceberg hear the “thump…thump…thump” of Hunters in the distance.

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All of the penguins run and hide in fear, leaving Tacky to face the Hunters by himself. The Hunters say that they’ve come to catch some pretty penguins, so Tacky decides to show the Hunter what kind of penguins live on this iceberg. Tacky marches for the Hunters… 1-2-3, 4-2, 3-6-0, 2 1/2, 0, and they are very confused. He does a big cannonball for the Hunters and gets them all wet. Finally, Tacky starts to sing with his not so lovely singing voice and soon enough his companions join in! They all sing as loudly and as horribly as they can until the Hunters run away as fast as possible because these were not the penguins they came looking for.

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All of the companions hug Tacky and are grateful that he scared the Hunters away and saved them all. The penguins realize that “Tacky was an odd bird but a very nice bird to have around.”

This story is one of my all-time personal favorites because I think it does a fantastic job of showing how being a unique individual is a beautiful thing. It’s a message that can be tricky to teach young children, but Tacky’s story makes it fun and relatable. The illustrations done by Lynn Munsinger in this book are all hand painted watercolor pieces. The images have been praised for their vibrant colors and vivid facial expressions that contribute to an all around classic feel. The text itself conveys a humorous attitude, but Munsinger’s illustrations bring to life the character of Tacky the odd bird and highlight the fun he has while being himself. Attention to details is one of the key elements of this story, from the hairs that stick up on Tacky’s head to the way he slouches when he walks – every aspect of Tacky reflects his daring, unique personality. Overall, a fun family story, Tacky the Penguin teachers its reader the lifelong lesson that even though someone might be different, they can still be a great friend.

 

Josie Mark

Boo Who? -Ben Clanton

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Boo Who?, written and illustrated by Ben Clanton, tells the story of a ghost who is new in town. Boo struggles to fit in because many of the games the kids play he is unable to properly participate in.

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Boo doesn’t have black outlines like all the other characters and this distinction conveys that Boo is transparent. To explain this tricky concept to children, Clanton uses a mislabeled arrow during his introduction and a basketball bouncing right through him.

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Eventually Boo discovers that he is really good at hide and seek, but before then he has a moment where he feels invisible. Clanton conveys this emotion by contrasting the nearly blank white page with the busier pages throughout the rest of the story. This book is also good to teach children how motion can be portrayed in still images. Clanton uses a dotted line to show the ball movement, but on the other hand uses continuous narrative to show Boo fading away.

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Also, this book can be used to teach the lesson that you shouldn’t get discouraged, but rather find a way to be seen and appreciated for who you are. This can be taken out of the context of a new student and applied to the realm of diversity as well as disability. It can lead to a discussion highlighting differences between people and how those differences gives us all unique characteristics and strengths. At first I was worried that the theme of this story may be too outright and that it may override the plot, but ultimately I think children can appreciate the expressive figures and relate to the storyline. It is also important to notice that the bookends are different at the beginning and the end of the book. At first boo is depicted as sad, but eventually this characterization changes. This difference can be used to explain the concept of foreshadowing and making predictions.

-Brianna Ortega