Monday, April 27, 2015

Over the Hills and Far Away: a treasurey of nursery rhymes, collected by Elizabeth Hammill

Over the Hills and Far Away: a treasurey of nursery rhymes

Collected by Elizabether Hammill
Illustrated by more than 70 celebrated artists
Candlewick Press. 2015
ISBN: 9780763677299
Babies – Grade 3
I received a copy of this book from the publisher.
Read this article over at Reading While White

I love nursery rhymes and so does Elizabeth Hammill, critic, bookseller and cofounder of Seven Stories, Britain’s National Center for Children’s Books

Hammill states in her introduction, Nursery rhymes have enlivened my life for as long as I can remember. Mine, too. As librarians, parents, and teachers, we all know that early exposure to books is an important element in a child’s development. It helps them master language and, hopefully, to love reading. Nursery rhymes, with their repetition, rhyme and beat is a pleasurable way to engage young children, especially babies. It's really fun to see toddlers stopping in mid-motion when their favorite rhyme is sung in toddler time. 

In this lovely anthology, Hammill has collected rhymes from various cultures around the world that will provide listeners with a genuine intercultural experience. Over 77 artists illustrate the rhymes. Hammill included those new to the field alongside our favorites: Jon Klassen, Polly Dunbar, Nina Crews, Shaun Tan, Helen Craig, Charlotte Voake, Axel Scheffler, and many more. Although a few of the pictures are recycled, most of the artwork is original. Eric Carle’s very hungry spider illustrates two rhymes about spiders.
At early morning the spiders spin/And by and by the flies drop in;/And when they call, the spiders say,/Take off your things, and stay all day. (American)

Ladybird, ladybird, /Fly away home. /Your house is on fire/And your children all gone;/All except one/And that’s little Ann/And she has crept under/The warming pan. (English)

Back matter includes notes about each artist, index of first lines, and sources.

All in all, this would make a wonderful addition to any library.

Read Betsy Bird's review at Fuse 8.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

A Nest is Noisy by Dianna Hutts Aston and Sylvia Long

A Nest is Noisy
Written by Dianna Hutts Aston; Illustrations by Sylvia Long
Chronicle Books. 2015
ISBN: 9781452127132
Preschool on up
I received a copy of this book from the publisher.

They’ve done it again! 

The award-winning duo, Dianna Hutts Aston & Sylvia Long, have added a fifth title to their informational science picture book series. (An Egg is Quiet, A Seed is Sleepy, A Butterfly is Patient, and A Rock is Lively). Their books stand out for their simplicity in language melded flawlessly with Long’s delicate, yet very expressive illustrations.

This book begins with a simple statement--A nest is noisy. It is a nursery of chirp-chirping buzzing squeaking peep-peeping bubbling babies—followed by brief paragraphs that gives just enough information about different types of nests without overwhelming readers. Aston packs a lot of information about a variety of nests. From birds to amphibians, mammals, insects and fish, this is one introductory science book budding naturalists will not want to miss.

Papery is the word that describes a nest for hornets, yellow jackets and paper wasps. A lamprey’s nest is pebbly. I like the two-page spread, A nest is neighborly. We learn that some nest builders prefer colonies. Long has partnered the nests of the Baya Weaver bird that hang down from the top of the page with Black-tailed Prairie Dogs labyrinth of underground burrows below. 

Every illustration is clearly labeled. As Long did in the other titles, here the front shows a variety of nests and the actual animal that uses the listed nests at the back.

And, just like our own households that are noisy and chaotic when our children are little, everything changes once they are ready to fly, swim, or crawl away…Then a nest is Quiet.

 Read another review of A Nest is Noisy by our friend, Alyson Beecher over at KidLitFrenzy.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Gingerbread for Liberty!

Gingerbread for Liberty!: How a German Baker Helped Win the American Revolution  
by Mara Rockliff
illustrated by Vincent X. Kirsch
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015
ISBN: 9780544130012
Grades 2-5

Today is Patriots' Day in honor of the first battle of the American Revolution, so it seems like the perfect time to feature Gingerbread for Liberty. Mara Rockliff introduces young readers to Christopher Ludwick, a baker and little-known figure from the Revolutionary War. Ludwick's job was to make sure the soldiers were well-fed. He served as the baker for the Continental Army, and he also baked for prisoners of war (many were from his home country of Germany).

Kirsch's whimsical, watercolor illustrations look like gingerbread with masking fluid outlines that resemble icing.  The narrative style with many exclamatory sentences make Gingerbread for Liberty an engaging story for kids and an exciting book to read aloud. The story could also serve as a springboard for readers who want to learn more about the American Revolution. Although, the use of dialogue without source notes shifts the story from nonfiction to historical fiction.

Be sure to read the author's note to learn more specific information about Ludwick's work as a baker and his humanitarian efforts in Philadelphia. Readers who enjoy baking may be inspired to test the gingerbread recipe printed on the endpapers.

 Visit Vincent X. Kirsch's website to see illustrations from the book. 

Monday, April 13, 2015

Out and About: a first book of poems by Shirley Hughes

Out and About: a first book of poems
Written and illustrated by Shirley Hughes
Candlewick Press. 2015
ISBN: 9780763676445
Preschool thru Grades 3
I received a copy of this book from the publisher.

Beloved British author/illustrator Shirley Hughes introduces a new generation of readers to her bustling, neighborhood where anything is possible. Her London is filled with diversity and multigenerational families all going about the day-to-day activities that make up a child’s life.

Out and About: a first book of poems is a year in the life of Katie and her younger brother, Olly. Hughes says, “This collection of poems gives a taste of what Katie and Olly might find when they are out and about.” Divided into the four seasons, we follow these two curious youngsters as they take pleasure playing in mud, enjoying the sunshine, rolling down a hill or a day at the beach.

I have to admit that the poem Spring Greens resonated with me, because as I write this I do believe Spring has finally arrived here in the Northeast.

Bulbs in pots,
Twigs in jars,
Dads in the streets, washing cars.
Greens in seasons,
Trees in bud,
Sky in puddles,
Ripples in mud.
Birds in bushes, singing loud.
Sun tucked up in a bed of cloud.

Accompanying every poem are Hughes joyful pen and watercolor illustrations that mirror the action perfectly. The combination of full and double-page spreads show children enjoying themselves as they open the back door to see what wonders each day has to offer.

The poems from Out and About are ideal for sharing at story time. Place one or two in your Poetry Jar and bring them out at that special time between stories. Use in the class room to spark conversations about how students spent their weekends or holidays. 

Monday, April 6, 2015

Growing Up Pedro

Growing Up Pedro  
by Matt Tavares
Candlewick Press, 2015
ISBN: 9780763668242
Grades K-5

The reviewer borrowed a copy of the book from her school library.

Red Sox fan and author/illustrator, Matt Tavares, has released a new baseball biography just in time for opening day. Growing Up Pedro follows the rise of pitcher, Pedro Martinez, from a childhood of poverty in the Dominican Republic to success as a Major League pitcher. Young readers are sure to find inspiration in Martinez's story.

Tavares organizes the sparse text into stanzas, like poetry. Martinez received support and guidance from his older Ramon as he navigated his way through the baseball system. Themes of persistence and remaining focused on your goals shine through as Martinez worked hard to hone his skills. He succeeded as a pitcher despite coaches telling him he was too small to play in the Major League.

"Every time he takes the mound,
he reminds everyone who doubted him.
with every pitch, he tries to prove them wrong."

Gorgeous, full-page, watercolor, gouache and pencil illustrations compliment the narrative.  In a close-up illustration, Tavares captures the intense focus on Martinez's face as he pitches in a major league game. That focus and determination paid off when he led the Boston Red Sox to a World Series victory in 2004.

Growing Up Pedro is a recommended purchase for school and public libraries, and it would make an excellent gift for young sports fans of all ages. Be sure to read the author's note to learn more about how Martinez used his major league earnings to give back to his hometown in the Dominican Republic. Readers will also learn that Tavares traveled to the Dominican Republic and conducted interviews to research the book. Pair Growing Up Pedro with Henry Aaron's Dream and There Goes Ted Williams by Matt Tavares.

Visit Matt Tavares' site to see illustrations from the book and to access a guide for educators.