August Picture Book 10 for 10: The 2014 Edition

pb 10 for 10Could you choose ten – only ten – favorite picture books? I took up that challenge as part of the fifth annual August Picture Book 10 for 10 blog event hosted by Cathy at Reflect & Refine: Building a Learning Community and Mandy at Enjoy and Embrace Learning. This year, as in 2013, I truly struggled to reduce my list to a top ten. These are the special books that I am giving as gifts, recommending to parents and teachers, and moving face out on library and bookstore shelves:

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Gaston Written by Kelly DiPucchio and illustrated by Christian Robinson
Whether tough or tender, precious or brutish, readers will fall head over heels for the ooo la la charm of Gaston.  Zippy text and freshly retro illustrations guarantee read-it-again giggles in this delightful tale about families, belonging, and being true to oneself.

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Mr. Bud Wears the Cone by Carter Goodrich
Oh how poor Mr. Bud suffers, forced to wear The Cone while a hot spot heals. Pesky Zorro is not sympathetic, despite his costumed humiliation in Zorro Gets an Outfit. I love this wacky dog pair, first introduced in Say Hello to Zorro! A canine Elephant and Piggie.

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The Crocodile Who Didn’t Like Water by Gemma Merino
Because this adorable spindly-legged crocodile doesn’t like water, he plays alone while his snaggle-toothed siblings cavort. When Croc goes kersplosh and gets a snoutful of water, the reason for his struggle is ultimately revealed. Gush-worth illustrations galore.

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Tea Party Rules Written by Ame Dyckmen and illustrated by K.G. Campbell
I love how the sly, sweet expressions on this cub’s face pair perfectly with Ame’s funny, well-paced text. Oh the anticipation of discovery! And there are cookies!

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Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great by Bob Shea
Hysterically funny for parents and kids alike, goat glumly compares himself to unicorn’s sparkly awesomeness. But wait…is that a goat cheese pizza? Our copy of this book is nearly worn-out from re-reading and quoting favorite lines.

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Dare The Wind: The Record-breaking Voyage of Eleanor Prentiss and the Flying Cloud
Written by Tracey Fern, illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully
This picture book biography features an inspiring naval pioneer who “had always felt the sea tug at her heart, strong as a full-moon tide.”  You can almost feel the spray of salt water on your face, and hear the weighty snap of thick canvas sails overhead.

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The Tree Lady by H. Joseph Hopkins, illustrated by Jill McElmurry
Lovely life story of Kate Sessions, an accomplished arborist/scientist/gardener who followed her childhood passion and transformed a barren landscape into a lush public park. Well illustrated and clearly written, a nice “turf” to pair with Dare The Wind’s “surf”!

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I Hatched! by Jill Esbaum, illustrated by Jen Corace
An energetic, enthusiastic killdeer chick with an irrepressible zest for life zips through this rhyming narrative nonfiction treasure. Surprises abound for the reader and the chick as he discovers his new world and his new body. A delight and full of fun.

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Sparky! Written by Jenny Offill and illustrated by Chris Appelhans
Soon after Mom agrees that our nameless narrator may have a pet, Sparky! arrives by Express Mail. This charming tale, filled with slow sweetness and quirky humor, is appealing and fun. Don’t speed past this story without savoring its silly delights.

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Mo’s Mustache by Ben Clanton
“Huzzah!” cries Mo, when he receives a big, black, beautiful mustache in the mail. As soon as he dons his snazzy new lip accoutrement, wacky trouble ensues. Now all the adorable monsters want their own mustache!

It’s not too late to join the fun at August Picture Book 10 for 10.  Check the links for participating bloggers, or look on Twitter for posts under #pb10for10.  What favorites would you put on your top ten?

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The Crocodile Who Didn’t Like Water (PPBF)

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The Crocodile Who Didn’t Like Water
Written and illustrated by: Gemma Merino
NorthSouth Books, 2014

Suitable For Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: crocodiles, swimming, siblings

Opening: “Once upon a time, there was a little crocodile. And this little crocodile didn’t like water. He longed to play with his brothers and sisters. But they were far too busy with swim club. And this little crocodile didn’t like swim club.”

Merino

Brief Synopsis: Even though he doesn’t like water, little crocodile does like climbing trees. But no one else does, so he gets lonely. Croc finally summons his courage and dives in with the aid of a swim ring, but still can’t play ball or swim underwater. An ultimate kersplosh and a snoutful of water helps Croc discover why he had struggled all along.

Why I Like It: O.M.G. this book! The incredible range of expressions on the simplest of snaggly toothed little faces. The rich textures of waves, water and croc skin within a muted, perfect color palette. The way the text is carefully placed on the pages, perfectly underscoring the action. The super creative and adorable personalities of each spindly-limbed croc. The synchronized swimming! Little red slippers and rainboots! The endpages! I’ve far exceeded my allotment of exclamation marks, but suffice it to say that I ooh’ed and ahh’ed, giggled, squealed and sighed. Any book so short, sweet and uplifting with a funny twist ending and every imaginable read-it-again quality definitely belongs on the Perfect Picture Book list.

This is  a debut picture book from Gemma Merino, an author-illustrator born in Spain and living in London. TCWDLW  has been translated into French, German, Italian, Dutch, Korean, Swedish, Finnish and Spanish, and has won the Macmillan Picture Book Prize 2011, the Bishops Stortford Picture Book Award 2014, and Coventry Inspiration Book award 2014.

Links to Resources:

Go swimming! (siblings optional)

Make a cheeky paper crocodile.

Or make one from bubble wrap!

Run, don’t walk to your bookstore and/or library to get your hands on this marvelous story. Enjoy your summer while Perfect Picture Book Friday goes on hiatus! And find many more wonderful reads at the 101st edition of  Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.

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The Poppy Lady: Moina Belle Michael and Her Tribute to Veterans (PPBF)

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The Poppy Lady: Moina Belle Michael and Her Tribute to Veterans
Written by: Barbara Elizabeth Walsh
Illustrated by: Layne Johnson
Calkins Creek Books, 2012

Suitable For Ages: 5-9

Themes/Topics: Memorial Day, veterans, poppies, Flanders Fields

Opening: “March 1917. German U-boats had sunk another American ship – and the nation was outraged! Would the president call for war? Would Congress agree? Moina Belle Michael prayed not…”

Watch the Book Trailer

Brief Synopsis: An earnest tribute to the dedication of Moina Belle Michael, a schoolteacher from Georgia who was inspired by a poem to launch a national campaign establishing the red poppy as the symbol of sacrifice and courage of America’s soldiers.

While searching through her father’s WWII memorabilia, ten year old Barbara Elizabeth Walsh found a postcard addressed to her mother with a red poppy pinned to one corner. Her father explained who “The Poppy Lady” was and how kind she had been to him and his soldier buddies during the war. Decades later, Barbara was inspired to research Moira’s story and write this beautiful, moving book for children. Layne Johnson’s light-bathed illustrations are soft and luminous.

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Image courtesy of Wikimedia commons

Links To Resources:

Make red paper poppies

Read the poem In Flanders Fields

Monday, May 26, 2014 is Memorial Day in the United States.
Participate in a parade, visit a cemetery, and thank a veteran.

Why I Like This Book:

It’s an multi-award nominee!
Bank Street College of Education for Best Books (2013), TriState Young Adult Book Review Committee for Books of Note (2013), Eureka! Silver Award (California Reading Association (2013).

A portion of the book’s proceeds will support the National Military Family Association’s Operation Purple®, which benefits children of the U.S. military.

As a child, I loved buying and wearing red poppies on Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day. It was as much a part of our family tradition as attending the town parade and planting geraniums at the cemetery. Sadly, it has become far less common to find poppies being sold, and I have often resorted to asking local friends on Facebook to let me know where I can buy them! I am grateful for Barbara’s lovely book telling Moina’s story and ensuring that the red poppy tribute will endure.

For a complete list of great books with resources, please visit Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Books. Happy Memorial Day!

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Perfect Picture Book Friday: FEATHERS Not Just for Flying

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Feathers: Not Just for Flying

By Melissa Stewart, illustrated by Sarah S. Brannen
Charlesbridge Books, 2014
Suitable for: Ages 6-9
Themes/Topics: feather types, bird behaviors

Opening: “Birds and feathers go together, like trees and leaves, like stars and the sky. All birds have feathers, but no other animals do. Most birds have thousands of feathers, but those feathers aren’t all the same. That’s because feathers have so many different jobs to do.”

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Image courtesy of Charlesbridge Books

Brief Synopsis: Part scrapbook and part science journal, this is a colorful and intriguing exploration of all the ways birds can use their feathers. Elegantly rendered watercolor illustrations depict how sixteen species from across the world use their feathers in both typical and unexpected ways.

Why I Like This Book: Kids will love learning about the extremely unusual things some birds do with their feathers. For example, the male sandgrouse in the Gobi Desert soaks his absorbent belly feathers in a watering hole, then flies to the nest where his chicks suck the feathers to quench their thirst. I also liked the club-winged manakin from Ecuador that shakes his specially-ridged feathers to attract females with a high pitched whistling trill.

FEATHERS is a treat for the eyes as well as the mind! Laid out like a birder’s notebook, each spread features highly detailed images of the feathers in actual size as well as a portrait of the bird and its habitat. Scrapbook-style tidbits like stickers, drink umbrellas, and postage stamps serve to reinforce unique functions of the feathers, such as shading, digging or carrying.

The book concludes with a helpful author’s note on research, a detailed spread on feather types (filoplume, anyone?) and a reminder that it is prohibited to collect feathers from native wild birds without a specific permit or license.

Starred review from Publisher’s Weekly (December 16, 2013)

Links to Resources:

Can you imagine racing across the ocean faster than a bird can fly? Check out my review of DARE THE WIND: The Record Breaking Voyage of Eleanor Prentiss and the Flying Cloud by Tracey Fern at Good Reads with Ronna.

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For a complete list of great picture books with helpful teaching resources, please visit Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Books. 

 

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Picture Book Revising and Re-imagining

When I got word of a full day SCBWI picture book revision workshop, I couldn’t sign up fast enough! Last week we gathered at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art with the fabulous Harold Underdown and amazing Eileen Robinson of Kid’s Book Revisions for morning and afternoon workshop sessions, creativity exercises, manuscript critiques, and time to write, revise, and network.

The red Mo Willems elephant sculpture greeted us with a grin, despite the chilly weather.

The Carle was filled with many temptations: the stunning gallery (don’t miss Barbara McClintock’s special exhibit from Leave Your Sleep), the bookshop packed with favorite classics and new releases, and the cozy library. Even the craft room was freshly stocked with paint, paper, brushes and glue!

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Photo credit: Harold Underdown

I can’t reveal specific workshop content, although it’s fair to say that Ann Whitford Paul’s Writing Picture Books was kept close at hand. Chatting with like-minded picture book writers was a definite highlight from the day. To give you a glimpse of the terrific people I met, visit the PB writing blogs of Papa J Josh Funk, Ninja Woman Julie Phillips, and Carol Gordon Ekster from the mighty group blog Writers’ Rumpus.

Finally, a big thank you to SCBWI for financial support underwriting workshop costs, to Carol Munro for organizing a fabulous day, and to fellow 12X12 friends Melanie Ellsworth and Carrie Finison for their insightful critiques on my latest picture book draft!

Carle workshop (2A)

Photo credit: Carol Munro

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PPBF: Penguin in Peril by Helen Hancocks

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Penguin in Peril
Written and Illustrated by: Helen Hancocks
Templar/Candlewick Books, 2013

Suitable For Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: scheming cats, wily penguin, crazy caper

Opening: “One afternoon, three hungry cats ran out of food. They searched the house high and low and found three gold coins. They set off for the grocery store.”

Brief Synopsis: Well, those foolish cats don’t get to the store – they spend their coins on movie tickets. Still hungry but now inspired, they hatch a plot to kidnap a penguin from the zoo to serve as their fishy meal catcher. The penguin balks and manages to escape, leading to a hilarious cross-city chase.

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How does a penguin hide in the city? By ducking past nuns, men in black bowler hats, and bow-tied waiters of course. Each new scene made us howl with laughter as we searched for the cats, hats and habits. But will the penguin make it safely back to the zoo?

Links To Resources:

Make an origami penguin

Try this fun penguin balloon craft

Stage a penguin puppet show after creating paper bag penguin puppets

Ranger Rick from the  National Wildlife Federation has a good article on Adelie penguins

Why I Like This Book:

It’s an multi-award nominee!
In December 2013 Penguin in Peril was nominated for the Kate Greenaway Medal, Peters Books & Furniture Book of the Year, the Oxfordshire Book Awards and the Waterstone’s Children’s Book prize.

Its just plain fun!
There is no moral or message to be discerned, beyond perhaps “Crime does not pay.” This is a perfect silly book to share with a TV-cartoon obsessed reluctant reader and show them just how fun books can truly be. Plus they will learn some great new vocabulary words. Gruel anyone?

April 25 is World Penguin Day!
With this much of a headstart, we can plan a penguin-tacular celebration!

For a complete list of great books with resources, please visit Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.

Or if you prefer robins to penguins (and who doesn’t need a sign of spring right about now?) check out my recent review of NEST by Jorey Hurley at Good Reads with Ronna.

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Celebrating at Good Reads with Ronna – Win books!

I hope many of you have been following my reviews on the best of the best new children’s books at Good Reads with Ronna.  My last post featured the incredibly beautiful picture book Once Upon a Memory by Nina Laden and illustrated by Renata Liwska.

once (image from Amazon)

Good Reads with Ronna  is currently celebrating a major milestone – over 1000+ Twitter followers – by giving away three sets of award-winning books, Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo (2014 Newbery Medalist) with illustrations by K. G. Campbell, together with Journey, a wordless picture book (2014 Caldecott Honor Book) by Aaron Becker. Click here for all the details and enter by February 18, 2014!

N.B. – The giveaway has ended.  Congratulations to the winners Lauri Meyers and Danielle Davis! Click on their names to reach their fabulous book blogs!

It’s my privilege to offer you a glimpse into the brains behind this wonderful website, the marvelous Ronna Mandel!  Ronna agreed to answer my questions – serious and silly – for Bildebok readers!  Without further ado… Ronna!
Ronna Mandel

Ronna Mandel

You’ve been blogging about fabulous children’s books since 2009.  How did you develop your passion for kid lit?

I think there’s a part of me that hasn’t completely grown up. I was not a big reader as a child until a very helpful librarian found me some special books. Caps for Sale: A Tale of a Peddler, Some Monkeys and Their Monkey Business by Esphyr Slobodkina was one of the books she recommended. When I got a little older, the same librarian recommended Family Sabbatical by Carol Ryrie BrinkSusan Foster and Caddie Woodlawn.  I was hooked. Having kids was just the icing on the cake. I could buy kids’ books to my heart’s content. Books fired my imagination as a child and still do.

If you could put one book from your childhood into every public library, what book would you choose and why?

I can’t answer this question relating to my childhood. I can, however, tell you that Hippos Go Berserk by Sandra Boynton is one of my family’s all time faves. It’s got math, humor, a wild party scene, great Boynton artwork and of course, it’s also hysterical (and I mean that in the best possible way) hippos. As with so many Boynton books, Hippos Goes Berserk is great for practicing memorization skills! It’s one of those books that will instantly bring a smile to a child’s face (okay, and parents’ faces, too) when they’re feeling down. I want all libraries to have this book on their shelves. It just shouts out “We’ve got a great sense of humor!”
If you could wave a magic book wand, for what book would you create a sequel?

How about a book #8 in the Harry Potter series?

Hardcover, paperback, Nook or Kindle.  How you do prefer to read?

I have remained steadfast in avoiding an eReader.  I can read PDFs publishers send me online although I am old-fashioned and do prefer to hold a book in my hand. I love taking baths so I’d be scared to bring anything electronic into the tub, another reason why I stick to hardcover or paperback. I like the bulkiness of a hardcover, the smell, the cover art and all the info that can be included when there’s a book jacket.

Ronna, you are granted a superpower for one day.  Do you want to fly or be invisible?

Easy. Fly. I wanted to be Gidget as a child and travel the world. I had the good fortune to do so in a previous travel industry career and also living abroad in Europe for 10 years. I’ve traveled to Russia, India, Nepal, Israel and Morocco so, if I cannot fly on a plane, reading books is the next best thing.  I’ve even visited the Pyramids in my dreams or maybe I was really flying?

Ronna Mandel writes from the San Gabriel Valley in CA where she lives with her family after spending ten years in Frankfurt and London. Her blog, Good Reads with Ronna, features author interviews, literacy related events and giveaways, and reviews children’s books and educational products.  Good Reads With Ronna also appears weekly in www.parenthood.com’s Practical Parenting newsletter.

Ronna is a member of SCBWI and writes her own stories for children. Contact Ronna directly at Ronna.L.Mandel@gmail.com, on Twitter @goodreadsronna, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/goodreadswithronna and on Pinterest at http://www.pinterest.com/ronnamandel/.

Thank you Ronna!  It was a pleasure to have you visit.  I hope everyone will head over to her website and enter the giveaway.  Wouldn’t you love to own or share these two incredible books?

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