Monthly Archives: October 2012

Poetry Wednesday


Happy Poetry Wednesday y’all!

Yesterday I discovered the book, My Dog May Be a Genuis, written by Jack Prelutsky and illustrated by James Stevenson. This is a wonderfully witty collection of 100+ poems that will get children excited about poetry! This book features irresistible poems about animals, family members, never before seen creatures and more! The poems can be read to children of all ages.


Stevenson’s cartoon illustrations enhance Prelutsky’s humorous work, engaging and drawing the reader into the poems. How can you not love these?

Image ImagePrelutsky is a well-known author of “outrageously silly poems.” Prelutsky isn’t afraid to play around with words. His poems feature alliterations, rhyme, rhythm as well as the use of figurative language. This book could serve as a great educational tool for teaching poetry. I believe that his inventive poems should be celebrated in the classroom! Some of his other famous works are The Wizard, Scranimals, & The New Kids on the Block.



 For more information on My Dog May Be a Genuis, and/or Jack Prelutsky, check out his fantastically funny website:


Happy reading,

Anna Tobia

Pumpkin Trouble by Jan Thomas






In the spirit of Halloween, our friend Duck prepares for the most delightful of fall activities: pumpkin carving!



“This will be GREAT!” he says to himself. He thinks his jack-o-lantern will be a wonderful surprise for his dear friends Pig and Mouse. They’re in for a surprise, no doubt, but perhaps not the one Duck intended…




Duck scoops and scoops the seeds from within his giant pumpkin, but as he reaches for the very last scoop, he falls headfirst inside the pumpkin! He wiggles and wobbles and calls for help, finally turning himself upright. However, Duck is still trapped inside the pumpkin, now looking like a walking, talking…

PUMPKIN MONSTER!!” cry his friends Pig and Mouse, running from the Halloween spook that suddenly begins to chase them. Stuck inside the pumpkin, Duck tries to follow their lead to escape the frightening Pumpkin Monster that he cannot see. Mouse shouts to Pig to hide behind the barn. Duck hears Mouse, but cannot see the barn to hide with them!

He tries to run for shelter, but–SMASH! Duck crashes into the side of the barn, exploding his pumpkin shell. His friends peek around the corner of the barn to find Duck sitting there. Shocked to see him there, they begin to celebrate because he has defeated the terrible Pumpkin Monster! Oblivious to his victory, Duck decides that he must make a jack-o-lantern to celebrate!

Pig and Mouse admire Duck’s celebratory jack-o-lantern, but they wonder where he could have gone… As the reader could very well guess, silly Duck is once again trapped inside his pumpkin project.

Jan Thomas’s Halloween tale is especially enjoyable because the reader is always one step ahead of the characters, able to predict just what our three goofy friends will overlook! Young readers especially will love to read along as Duck tries and fails at a favorite fall pastime. The short and silly story is told only through the mouths of the three characters, with the narrative told directly by Thomas’s bold illustrations, making it almost a comic strip of slapstick humor. The bold images in this picture book will captivate all audiences, young and old.

Perfect for the fall season, Pumpkin Trouble will surely bring warmth and laughter to adults and children alike.

Happy Reading!



Ish by Peter H. Reynolds




“Ramon loved to draw. Anytime. Anywhere.”  So begins Peter H. Reynolds’ wonderful tale about creativity and the artistic process.  When his older brother makes a careless remark about Ramon’s depiction of a vase, drawing becomes a frustrating struggle and loses its joy and freedom.  Ramon becomes preoccupied with trying to get his drawings “right” and ends up crumpling up his efforts in despair.  Little does he know that his little sister has become his biggest fan, Image collecting his discarded papers and hanging them in her room.  Soon enough, Ramon discovers her gallery and learns that she likes the way his drawings look “vase-ISH.”  Freed from exactitude, Ramon’s love for drawing is reinvigorated. 


The follow-up to Reynolds’ The DotIsh encourages readers to see the world through their own unique perspectives.  The beautiful and quirky watercolor and ink drawings complement the message of the book well.  This story would be a wonderful addition to any classroom or personal collection, inspiring the creativity of readers both young and old.


Happy reading!


Goldilocks and Just One Bear by Leigh Hodgkinson


Goldilocks and Just One Bear by Leigh Hodgkinson is a great picture book that puts a little twist on a story that seems a little familiar. Yep- a twist on Goldilocks and the Three Bears. In this version, a bear finds himself in the city, away from his home in the woods. Trying to find some sort of place to rest, the bear stumbles into a high rise apartment, where he finds himself in a comfortable apartment where he can lay down. Before doing so, he wants to eat porridge and find the right place to sleep. After tampering with many things in the apartment, the bear finally is able to sleep in a comfortable bed. However, before he knows it, the family who lives in the apartment comes home and notices everything is a little different than the way they left it. Finding bear is inevitable, but as it happens, the mother and the bear feel like something is a little familiar in these situations. It turns out that the mother happens to be Goldilocks, and the bear is Baby Bear! After a great reunion fully of rest, porridge and a comfy place to stay, the bear finally goes home to the woods.

This book appeals to such a wide range of audiences. The handcrafted illustrations, along with the simple language of the text make this book accessible to young children, coupled by the fact that this is a story that young children can appreciate, especially if they have heard of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. This extension of the original story also makes it appealing to older children, who may have a great deal of comparing and contrasting that they can do. Rather than the setting being in a remote house in the woods, the bear finds himself in a high rise apartment in the city. With a growing number of children living that type of lifestyle, the story and the bear become accessible to the reader, and there may be a more strong sense of involvement and investment in the story itself. There’s something for everybody- even young adults might be interested in this book!

Another interesting thing about this picture book is that a lot of the words look handwritten, and the font adheres to the meaning of the word. Rather than having static fonts and letters, the books text is dynamic and engaging for the readers; the words look like they are popping out at you!

This modern take on a well known tale will make a great addition to a classroom or a bedroom. A definite must-buy, and a definite must-read for anybody who has ever heard of that story. Even if you haven’t, this book is still such a dynamic and engaging book that will have the children interested until the very end.

– Miyuki :]

Bink and Gollie, Two for One


Bink and Gollie, Two for One by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee, illustrated by Tony Fucile, is a story of two best friends, Bink and Gollie. This book takes the pair through a series of adventures at the state fair.



The story begins with Bink, the small blonde of the two, wanting to play whack a duck. Bink winds up to throw the baseball at the wall of ducks to win the world’s largest donut, and hits the man working the booth in the face! Bink eagerly asks, “Did I win?”






Bink tries two more times, but continues to injure the poor man at the booth. Their next adventure has Gollie volunteering to perform in a talent show. Unfortunately, Gollie chokes up! The two walk away from the talent show wearing “I lost at whack a duck” and “I participated in the amateur talent show” ribbons, disappointed in themselves to say the least.








The final adventure takes them to a psychic, which tells them what a dark path they’ve endured recently. However, the psychic then mentions the future, which still has the two being best of friends! That’s enough to turn the day for the two of them around.




This is a great book to read with your 1st and 2nd grade children! The illustrations are fantastic. The amount of emotion that Fucile is able to convey in the faces of these characters is just amazing. Not only will your child appreciate the humor of this book, you will, too. Children won’t be able to put this book down as they start to become invested in the comical friendship of Bink and Gollie. Most kids will relate to either the silliness of Bink or the responsible qualities of Gollie, which makes the story all the more fun for them!

-Elizabeth Gunckle



What’s Up, What’s Down? by Lola M. Schaefer


The word, “nonfiction,” is received by some children with as much welcome as liver and broccoli for dinner, since images of encyclopedias and textbooks come to mind.  However, What’s Up, What’s Down? by Lola M. Schaefer (with illustrations by Barbara Bash) is a phenomenal book that describes the world from a relational standpoint, using language that tells a beautiful story of how so many things on our planet are related just by asking, “What’s above this?” and, “What’s below that?”

In order to read this book, we must rotate it on its side, so that we are flipping pages down instead of to the left.  It starts off with the lowly mole in the ground and asks, “WHAT’S UP if you’re a mole?”  By repeating the question, “What’s up…,” the book goes through roots and grass and toads and wildflowers all the way up to the moon!  (All the time, of course, we are captivated by beautiful illustrations that show – for example – how trees lead up to birds, and how birds lead up to “bold, blue sky.”)

At the moon, we must rotate the book to the other side, such that we will flip the pages up to progress through the rest of the “story.”  The text on this page reads, “WHAT’S DOWN if you’re the moon?”  Successive questions of this nature bring us through clouds, ocean waves, whales, and seaweed all the way down to “the bottom of the WORLD.”

I believe this book is especially appropriate for first and second graders since it presents a relational view of the world that they have not likely seen or considered before, without getting bogged down in scientific detail.  Additionally, the language is poetic (“birds rushing here and there on invisible highways”), and the vocabulary challenges are not so immense that children are lost, but plentiful enough where a good teacher could form a word-reading lesson or two from this book!  Great for reading aloud with a group of young students or with children at home!

–Reviewed by Derek Reinhold

That’s Not My Dad! by Peter Bently, Illustrated by John Bendall-Brunello


“That’s Not My Dad!” is a humorous little tale about a young polar bear named Patty searching for her father. The day begins on the top of a hill, when they decide to “slide down for a thrill,” but dad goes first and has suddenly gone right out of sight. Through the books rhyming patterns, each spread includes a fold-out flap in order to get closer to solving the mystery of finding Patty the polar bear’s dad.  Along her journey, Patty asks the puffin who “spying whiskers and snout” believes he has found the daddy polar bear. But indeed, it turns out to be a wobbly walrus!

The walrus then leads her to the seal, who leads her to the whale, who leads her to the fox, who leads to her to the hare, who finally leads her to a snow polar bear sculpture her father made her to lead her to the den. At each step of the way, Patty and the other animals think they have found something that looks like her dad, “a shape that was furry and white,” or a “big deep voice humming a song.” The story is a comical one as Patty continues to get closer along the path to finding her father, and in the end they are now “cozy and warm in their underground den.” The flaps are sure to delight children as they help Patty be detectives to this mystery and the illustrations are quite beautiful with soft strokes and a cool palate to represent this winter scene.

A delightfully fun book for young readers!

The collaborative duo Peter Bently and John Bendall-Brunello also have other fun mysteries in this collection such as: “That’s Not My Mom!,” “That’s Not My Brother!,” and “That’s Not My Sister!”

To find these books and more, please visit Peter Bently’s Amazon store at:

Review by: Bianca Novo

White Flour Written by David LaMotte and Illustrated by Jenn Hales


White Flour, written by David LaMotte and illustrated by Jenn Hales, is a story that celebrates humor and wit over anger and hatred.


In poetic verse, LaMotte details the events of May 26th 2007 when members of the Ku Klux Klan met members of the Coup Clutz Clowns in Knoxville, Tennessee. Rather than fight anger with anger, the Coup Clutz Clowns used costumes, laughter and wit to frustrate the Ku Klux Klan members and disrupt their rally.

A word of caution: Do not be fooled by the colorful illustrations and “sing-songy” verse. This book is more appropriate for middle school students or older. Although the Coup Clutz Clowns remained united in their light-hearted and humorous demeanor, the event itself demands some very serious attention and discussion.

The story White Flour has a powerful and inspiring message that everyone needs to hear at some point in their lives; however, it is a book that still requires careful consideration and planning prior to reading. A pre-reading and post-reading discussion regarding both the history of race relations in the United States (slavery, Jim Crowe laws, Civil Rights Movement, etc.) and the lesson/moral of this story is appropriate.

Unfortunately, hate groups are not a thing of fiction; however, if students learn how to overcome and confront hatred through educated and peaceful means, then perhaps hatred will disappear one day.

For more information, feel free to take a look at the book’s website:


Review by Laura Wilczek



Brigid loves to draw, but she quickly tires of her drawing materials. One day she asks her mother for some markers, but her mother knows better. She tells Brigid that children draw on the walls and the floor and that it never comes out. But Brigid tells her mom about the new washable markers that come out with soap and water, so Brigid’s mom buys her 500 washable markers. After a week of drawing lovely pictures that look better than the things she has drawn in real life, Brigid decides she needs new markers- special smelly markers. Since Brigid proved to her mom that she would not draw on the walls or the floor, Brigid’s mom agrees and buys her 500 special smelly markers. Again, Brigid tires of the markers after a week. This time Brigid asks her mother for “super indelible never come off until your dead and maybe even later coloring markers.” When Brigid gets her markers she draws pictures that are more beautiful and colorful than the real things she draws.


But of course, Brigid gets tired of coloring again, but this time she is tired with paper. Since she knows she can’t draw on the walls, Brigid decides to color her finger nails. Her fingernails look so good she draws on her hands and before she knows it she has colored her entire body. When Brigid’s mother finds out she calls the doctor who gives her some special soap. Brigid takes a bath with the special soap, but the soap takes off all her color and leaves her invisible. Brigid’s mother freaks out and thinks Brigid’s life is ruined because you can’t go through life being invisible. Brigid however is quick on her feet and colors herself with a skin colored marker, which she already tested on her father.

ImagePurple, Green, and Yellow is a fun book with a silly little girl that loves to draw. It can serve as a great way to teach young children about what materials are appropriate to draw on and with, and what could happen if you decide to start drawing on yourself! This book is sure to be a favorite as children discover whether or not Brigid will stay colored with markers forever!

-Megan Wongkamalasai

Purple, Green, and Yellow by Robert Munsch

I Pledge Allegiance by Bill Martin Jr. & Michael Sampson


Classroom teachers are often looking for books that lend themselves to integration across subjects.  If you want a way to intertwine children’s literature with American history and civic education, look no further. I Pledge Allegiance by Bill Martin Jr. and Michael Sampson is a cross-curricular gem.

In I Pledge Allegiance, Martin Jr. and Sampson examine the individual words in the Pledge, giving each word or phrase its own page and illustrations.  In its final pages, the book shares some of the big ideas upon which the U.S. is built–ideas like fairness, freedom, unity, equality, creativity, and variety. The final pages also leave children with an understanding of the American flag’s significance–what the flag symbolizes for people across the ages.  It even speaks directly to the reader, that the flag stands for “the hopes and feelings of the American people–people like…YOU!”

At first thought, the Pledge of Allegiance might seem an obtuse topic to explain to young children, but the authors do a wonderful job of forming their book around kid-friendly language and examples. For instance, on the page for “allegiance,” the text explains “allegiance is loyalty,” and Chris Raschka’s accompanying illustrations depict a dog wagging its tail.  Across the pages of the book, the text and colorful cartoon-like illustrations complement and enhance one another.

The pages are rife with not only word explanations, but also historical facts and contemporary applications.  This book highlights lots of useful information many adults may not even know: the symbolism of the American flag’s colors, the year the Pledge was written, and the Pledge’s initial purpose. The book truly helps young children understand the meaning behind the Pledge of Allegiance.  Additionally, the powerful, clear, carefully-determined text helps young children connect the origins of our nation to modern America, via an awareness of the nation’s fundamental values.  I highly recommend this book to parents and teachers alike.  Both parents and teachers will find it a great resource for introducing children to topics such as democracy, civics, and beliefs and values in a fun and inviting way.  This book would be fantastic fodder for many deep conversations between children and adults.