All is well at the zoo until walrus notices the open gate and decides to escape. Where’s walrus now? The zookeeper frantically searches for the escaped walrus throughout town. However, walrus is difficult to find as he hides by disguising himself. He blends into scenes and situations in town. A few disguises he becomes are a firefighter, artist, and even a dancer. Walrus wears different hats that match each disguise. Walrus can’t help but stand out when he discovers a pool and shows his diving skills. Is the chase off now that walrus is no longer in disguise?
Where’s Walrus? is a delightful and humorous book, especially for younger ages. The illustrations are simple with bold colors. The storyline is also straightforward – animal escapes, hides, and zookeeper tries to find. Younger ages can find walrus within the pages. Where’s Walrus? is sure to get many laughs. I recommend this book.
Written by Deborah & James Howe
Illustrated by Allan Daniel
Ages: 6-9, 128 pages
Genre/Topics: Humor, Mystery
The fun and adventure begins when the Monroe family returns from the movie with a new family addition – a rabbit. The family agrees to name the bunny Bunnicula, since it was found at the movies while watching Dracula. However, two family members are hesitant about Bunnicula – Chester the cat and Harold the dog. We learn about Bunnicula from Harold’s perspective. Chester believes Bunnicula really is a vampire and with Harold’s reluctant help they discover more about Bunnicula. Bunnicula has fangs and stays awake at night. Is Bunnicula really a vampire? Humorous events occur as Chester is determined to prove that Bunnicula is a vampire.
I loved Bunnicula! I really did laugh out loud as Harold described the weird events happening in the house since Bunnicula arrived. The reader learns about Chester’s mischievous behavior and Harold’s family loyalty. The book is mysterious without being scary. Readers will be curious about Bunnicula and want to know more about Chester and Harold’s adventures. There are additional books in the Bunnicula series. I highly recommend Bunnicula for a fun read!
Flotsam: A wreckage of a ship and its cargo found floating in the water.
A curious boy explores many animals and things at the beach. An old camera with barnacles washes onto the shore and he develops the film. He discovers interesting pictures of sea creatures: An octopus reading in the living room, seastars carry islands on their back, and even small aliens surrounded by sea horses. One photo catches his eye of a girl holding a photo who is also holding a photo. The boy zooms in the photo with his microscope and discovers many children holding the photo. He then takes a photo of himself with the photo. The camera is thrown back into the water, so more photos can be taken and other children can find it on the beach.
Flotsam is another beautifully illustrated book by David Wiesner. The book has realistic elements as he finds animals on the beach with fantasy elements of sea photos. The photo pages were outlined black in the book to appear like a photo. I only had a problem with throwing the camera back into the ocean, but I understand it’s part of the story. Remind children (and adults) to keep nature clean. Spark their wonder about sea mysteries with Flotsam.
A haiku is a Japanese poem divided into three lines of 5, 7, and 5 syllables. I Haiku You is a cute book that expresses different loves written in the form of haiku. The book isn’t exactly a story, instead it’s things, situations, and people who show happiness. I Haiku You has simple haiku poems and messages that children can understand. Haiku poems range from butterflies, bike rides, summer treats, friendship, snow angels, and even s’mores.
I found myself counting the syllables on my fingers the entire time I read I Haiku You. I think this a delightful book to introduce haiku poems to young children. The book doesn’t even have to be used for poetry alone, since the cheerful messages are sure to make you smile. The illustrations are also cute and really show the haiku’s theme. Take this book’s inspiration and create your own haiku today!
Haiku History & Information:
A haiku poem consists of three lines, with the first and last line having 5 moras, and the middle line having 7. A mora is a sound unit, much like a syllable, but is not identical to it. Since the moras do not translate well into English, it has been adapted and syllables are used as moras.
Haiku started out as a popular activity during the 9th to 12th centuries in Japan called “tanka.” It was a progressive poem, where one person would write the first three lines with a 5-7-5 structure, and the next person would add to it a section with a 7-7 structure. The chain would continue in this fashion. So if you wanted some old examples of haiku poems, you could read the first verse of a “tanka” from the 9th century.
The first verse was called a “hokku” and set the mood for the rest of the verses. Sometimes there were hundreds of verses and authors of the “hokku” were often admired for their skill. In the 19th century, the “hokku” took on a life of its own and began to be written and read as an individual poem. The word “haiku” is derived from “hokku.”
The three masters of “hokku” from the 17th century were Matsuo, Issa, and Buson. Their work is still the model of haiku writing today. They were poets who wandered the countryside, experiencing life and observing nature, and spent years perfecting their craft.
Example of Basho Matsuo Haiku from 1600s:
An old silent pond…
A frog jumps into the pond,
splash! Silence again.
Example of Kobayashi Issa Haiku from late 1700s & early 1800s:
Everything I touch
with tenderness, alas,
pricks like a bramble.
Example of Yosa Buson Haiku from late 1700s:
A summer river being crossed
with sandals in my hands!
Informtation obtained from Your Dictionary Haiku Poems
A boy falls asleep and his adventures begin in his dreams. The book he read before bed is open and a page with a map floats away. This map appears throughout the pages on his journey. His checkered blanket becomes fields then a chess board. He battles a dragon through a forest. There’s even a Gulliver’s Travels element as the boy appears bigger and smaller at moments. He freely falls from one adventure to the next.
Free Fall is a beautifully illustrated book that truly takes the reader on adventures. After reading the book once, I slowly went back many times to view the details. The transitions from one adventure to the next occur smoothly and gradually. I recommend Free Fall for older ages to pick up story details and continue in their writing. Younger ages can also enjoy Free Fall for the illustrations. I recommend this book.
A Chinese American girl is unhappy as she sits inside her parent’s market while 4th of July festivities take place outside. Her parents are busy making chow mein and sweet & sour pork, but the girl states that nobody wants Chinese food on the 4th of July. Her father replies that fireworks are Chinese. The day continues as she hears a parade she’d like to attend. A few customers wander inside for soda and ice cream, but nobody buys the Chinese food. The girl doesn’t think her parents understand American things, even though her mother loves apple pie and her father has lived here as a boy. Finally, evening arrives and customers enter to buy Chinese food for dinner. When the market closes, the family watches the Chinese fireworks while eating ‘American’ apple pie.
Apple Pie 4th of July is a great children’s book to highlight different sides of what it means to be American. The United States is referred to the ‘melting pot’ or ‘tossed salad’, so there’s no formula of what exactly makes an American. The girl learns that she can be proud of her heritage while enjoying stereotyped ‘American’ apple pie. The illustrations and plot are simple for young ages to enjoy.
Written & Illustrated by David Wiesner
Published 1999 by Clarion Books
Genre/Subject: Wordless Picture Book, Clouds, Imagination
A boy goes on a field trip to the Empire State Building in New York City. However, it’s a very cloudy day and not much can be seen at the Observatory. A friendly cloud whisks the boy away into the sky. They travel far until they reach their destination: Sector 7. Sector 7 is the control station where clouds arrive and depart. The clouds have a problem that hopefully the boy can solve.
I read Sector 7 to two classes and both groups were skeptical about a wordless book. A student asked, ‘You mean we’re making the story?’ Yes, that is exactly what occurred during read aloud. The students were captivated with picture details and making the story in their own words. Sector 7 is a good book for older ages to pick up clues in the story. Students can write or draw about what their cloud would look like. I recommend this book.
Two brothers, eight-year-old Sam and ten-year-old Derek, recently moved to Virginia at the start of summer. They are excited and anxious to explore their new backyard, which happens to be the woods. Their parents trust them to explore the woods alone and the summer they won’t forget begins. Sam discovers an old, worn down coin in the creek and pockets it. After showing their dad the coin and talking with the neighbors they discover that there was a rare coin collection stolen from a local museum. Derek and Sam believe they can discover where the coin collection now hides. However, they don’t often know what to expect within the dark woods and mysteries behind the coin collection. What dangers await the brothers in the woods? Will Sam and Derek discover the old coin collection?
I really enjoyed Summer of the Woods. The story was well written with good descriptions. I could really visualize the brothers’ quest into the woods. It reminded me of the film, The Goonies. The brothers are young explorers who are determined that there is more within the woods. Besides showing their dad the coin, the treasure hunt remains a secret between the two. This is Steven Smith’s first book and I’m excited to read what he writes next. I recommend Summer of the Woods for a fun adventure read.
Doug is a robot who is plugged in each day by his parents to become the smartest robot. All the information about the city is downloaded into Doug, but then he notices a pigeon outside the window. Doug decides to unplug and ventures into the city. He learns more about the city than the information that was downloaded, such as garbage cans smell, flowers grow out of sidewalks, and fire engine sirens are loud. However, there was one thing that Doug never downloaded. A boy in the park asked Doug if he wanted to play, but he knew nothing about playing. Soon Doug and the boy play hide and seek and other games in the park. Doug made his first friend. He went home to his robot parents who still thought Doug was the smartest robot.
I thought Doug Unplugged was a very cute and humorous book. We’re all fully aware how much time children (and adults) spend on computers and electric devices. Sometimes they don’t even know how to experience the real world. I also enjoyed Doug Unplugged, because the people and robots are bright colors so there’s no race. Go ahead and unplug yourself from all devices and explore the world!
Two individuals look out their window and see a rainy day, yet they have completely different perspectives about the day to come. One individual is an extremely happy young child who shouts with joy that it’s a rainy day. He cannot wait to put on his frog rain hat and boots. The other individual is a grumpy old man who grudgingly puts on his rain gear. The viewpoints continue on the rainy day as the boy jumps in puddles and pretends to be a frog whereas the old man frowns at others. They both enter a coffee shop and the boy happily eats his cookie while the man drinks his coffee with a frown. The boy accidentally bumps into the older man who yells at the boy to be careful. The negative feeling almost settles on the young boy until he notices the old man forgot his hat. He quickly gives the man his hat. The frown slowly disappears as he jokes to try on the frog hat too. They walk away both with smiles on their faces. This was a very cute and simple book that demonstrates your attitude can make all the difference.
Can a book that focuses on one color be exciting to read? Green is a beautifully illustrated book that displays the many hues of the color green. Some greens are standards such as forest green, lime green, fern green, and pea green. Other greens are more creative with a tiger hiding in green grass, a chameleon in khaki green, faded green on signs, and fireflies with a glow green. Along the book, there are die-cuts giving a sneak into the next green. You can guess the next picture. My favorite die-cuts are the pages with the green fireflies that then turn to red apples on a green tree when you turn the page. There’s a page showing all the green shades. The book also displays pages with no green, such as a red stoplight and a white snow scene. The illustrations appear very lovely like a canvas with bold brush strokes and vivid colors. The last two pages show a young boy planting a tree then shows a grown tree that is forever green.
This is a wonderful book to explore the many shades of green. It’s perfect for younger ages, because there’s only a few words on the page. The book also can be used with older ages to view the unique canvas-like illustrations to then create art. Green is a great book to explore our naturally green world that hopefully stays green.
Eating the Alphabet is a simple alphabet book with no actual story, instead the reader enjoys colorful fruits and vegetables illustrations. Most letters appear either on one or two pages. Every fruit and vegetable is written twice – once in all capital letters and the other all lower case letters. It’s a great way for children to really view how letters are displayed in words. I really enjoyed this book, because most letters are represented with 3-6 fruits and vegetables. It’s not your typical ‘A is for Apple. B is for Banana.’, instead Eating the Alphabet highlights fruits and vegetables that are new to young children and perhaps even adults too. Some examples are avocado, artichoke, cauliflower, eggplant, jicama, kumquat, lime, okra, papaya, and xigua. Does the child need to know each food? Of course not, instead it introduces the colorful world of fruits and vegetables besides apples, bananas, and carrots. It goes beyond a simple food alphabet book and opens discussion about healthy foods, finding the fruits and vegetables in the store, and of course tasting the foods that are in the book. There is a food glossary at the back with brief information about each fruit and vegetable. This is also a great book to teach colors, since the illustrations are so vivid and colorful. I highly recommend this alphabet book in your child’s book collection.
Louis is a Trumpet Swan, however he was born without a voice. His father and mother are concerned, because without a voice he will have difficulty finding a mate in the Spring. Louis is also worried because he doesn’t want to be different from his siblings. Louis’ father takes a risk and steals a trumpet from a music shop, so that Louis will now have a voice. The problem is that his father is in debt from stealing a trumpet and smashing the shop. Louis is grateful for the trumpet, but knows he must help his father repay the debt. As a young swan, Louis met Sam Beaver who is a kind boy and loves animals. Sam takes Louis to school and helps him learn to read and write. With Sam’s help Louis gets paying jobs to play his trumpet and becomes quite famous to repay his father. More importantly, Louis now has a voice and can woo the swan he loves. Although Louis was born different he is determined to be his best and never gives up his dreams.
E.B. White is most famous for Charlotte’s Web, so The Trumpet of the Swan may get overlooked. The Trumpet of the Swan is a sweet book with many powerful messages. There is a fantasy element, since the animals have human-like characteristics and people communicate with Louis however it can still be used as a tool for discussion. Some possible discussions may include being different, never give up, love what you do, friendship, and animal care.