picture book

Wordless Wednesday: Sidewalk Circus by Paul Fleischman

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circus

Sidewalk Circus

Written by Paul Fleischman

Illustrated by Kevin Hawkes

Published by Candlewick on May 8, 2007

Ages: 5+, 32 pages

Genre/Topics: Wordless, Circus

Ladies, gentlemen, boys, and girls The Garibaldi Circus is coming to town! There are many busy preparations for the circus, but if you look closely you may get a sneak peek. A young girl watches across the street at the bus stop as people prepare for the upcoming circus. The girl witnesses a tight rope walker who is actually a construction worker balancing pails. She sees clowns who are kids skateboarding into the market. There’s a sword swallower sitting in the dentist chair. A stilt walker balances on a ladder while painting. A dog’s shadow becomes a scary lion. The entire street ‘circus’ is viewed on the last pages. The girl boards the bus at the same time a boy sits at the bus stop to watch. What exciting things will you see at the circus pre-show?

Sidewalk Circus is an entertaining book that displays ordinary street events into an exciting show. I thought it was interesting that the girl was the only individual at the bus stop who noticed the street shows. Even though this is a wordless picture book, words appear on circus posters, shops, and billboards announcing the circus. The illustrations are bright, colorful, and show city details. I recommend Sidewalk Circus to help see the extraordinary in the otherwise ordinary daily events in your city.

Wordless Wednesday: Flotsam by David Wiesner

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flotsam
Flotsam
Illustrated by David Wiesner
Published by Clarion Books on September 4, 2006
Ages 5+, 40 pages
Genre/Topics: Wordless, Marine Life

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.

Book Review: I Haiku You by Betsy Snyder

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haikuI Haiku You
Written & Illustrated by Betsy Snyder
Published by Random House Books for Young Readers on December 26, 2012
Genre/Topics: Poetry, Haiku, Love Expressions
Ages:4-6. 32 pages

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

how pleasing

with sandals in my hands!

Informtation obtained from Your Dictionary Haiku Poems

Wordless Wednesday: Free Fall by David Wiesner

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Free Fall
Illustrated by David Wiesner
Published by HarperCollins September 18, 1991
Ages:6+, 32 pages
Genre/Topics: Wordless, Imagination
Awards: Caldecott Honor

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.

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: I Pledge Allegiance

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I Pledge Allegiance
Written by Bill Martin Jr. and Michael Sampson
Illustrated by Chris Raschka
Published by Candlewick on June 3, 2004
Ages: 4+, 40 pages
Genre/Topics: Patriotism, Pledge of Allegiance, U.S. History

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Many students begin the day reciting The Pledge of Allegiance. What exactly does it mean when we proudly salute the flag? When did it begin? Has the Pledge changed since it started? These questions and more are explained in I Pledge Allegiance.

I Pledge Allegiance isn’t exactly a story, instead the entire Pledge is ‘spoken’ on the pages. The book breaks it down and explains what words mean. Only a few words are on a page with an explanation, such as pledge, allegiance, flag, republic, nation, God, liberty, and justice. These are big concepts for children to grasp. There is additional information about the Pledge throughout the book. The book explains the flag’s colors, what to do when saying the Pledge, brief Pledge history, and even a colorful map of the United States of America.

I really enjoyed I Pledge Allegiance. As a teacher, I proudly state the Pledge every morning. Some students don’t show respect when saying the Pledge, so I think this book will explain what it means. The illustrations are unique, because they appear like construction paper and watercolors. I Pledge Allegiance does a great job showing how all are represented under the flag, since the people are all colors from yellow to blue. I highly recommend I Pledge Allegiance, so children can understand what the Pledge means and how to be respectful.

Facts about The Pledge of Allegiance:

  • In 1892, Francis Bellamy wrote it as a poem for children. It was published in the children’s magazine, The Youth’s Companion.
  • It wasn’t intended to be spoken daily, instead it was written to celebrate Columbus Day.
  • The Pledge used a military style salute, similar to the Nazi salute. In 1942, the U.S. Flag Code changed the salute to be a hand over the heart.
  • In 1954, President Eisenhower asked Congress to add ‘under God’.

Original Pledge:

I pledge allegiance to my flag and the Republic for which it stands – one Nation indivisible – with liberty and justice for all.

 

 

 

 

 

Wordless Wednesday: Museum Trip by Barbara Lehman

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Museum Trip
Illustrated by Barbara Lehman
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers on May 22, 2006
Ages 4+, 32 pages
Genre/Topics: Wordless, Museum, Field Trip, Imagination

A museum holds many interesting things from paintings, artifacts, and sculptures. A young boy is on a field trip to a museum and everything is fine, until he stops to tie his shoe. He now lost his group and wanders alone. He discovers a room with maze-like drawings. When he takes a closer look he finds that he is physically inside the maze. He now explores maze after maze. When he finishes navigating through all the mazes, he exits the room. Finally, the boy catches up with his classmates on the museum trip. His field trip experience is quite different from others.

The Museum Trip is a simple wordless book and not too much imagination is needed. The book is fun, because each maze is on a page. The reader can ‘help’ the boy find the center and exit the maze.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Apple Pie 4th of July by Janet S. Wong

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apple pieApple Pie 4th of July
Written by Janet S. Wong
Illustrated by Margaret Chodos-Irvine
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers on May 1, 2006
Ages: 4-7, 40 pages
Genre/Topics: 4th of July, Immigrant Families

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wordless Wednesday: Journey by Aaron Becker

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journeyJourney
Illustrated by Aaron Becker
Published August 6, 2013 by Candlewick Press
40 pages, 7+
Genre/Subject: Wordless, Imagination, Travel
Awards: Caldecott Honor Book 2014
 
Journey tells the story of what can happen with a red marker and an imagination. A girl desires an adventure when she asks each family member to fly a kite, play ball, and ride a scooter. Everyone says no, so she’s bored again in her room until she notices the red marker. She draws a red door and heads out on a journey. Her red marker creates a boat, balloon, and even a flying carpet through her journey. Hopefully, her red marker helps bring her journey home.
 
I thought Journey was a delightful and colorful wordless book. There are small details you notice the second time reading. Journey can be enjoyed by all ages, but older ages can take full advantage of asking what will happen next on her journey. Children can write about what they would do if given a magic marker to take them anywhere. Journey is a fun book that will have your imagination to new places.
 

 
 

Wordless Wednesday: Wave by Suzy Lee

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wave
Wave
Illustrated by Suzy Lee
Published April 16, 2008 by Chronicle Books
40 pages, 3+
Genre/Subject: Wordless, Beach
New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book 2008

 Wave is the story of a young girl’s day at the beach. The girl appears with a flock of seagulls and at first she is hesitant to go into the water. The girl and seagulls are in charcoal grey on one page and the ocean waves are blue watercolors on the adjacent page. Soon the charcoal and watercolor combine as the young girl has fun in the ocean. Finally, one huge wave causes the girl to get swept away onto the shore. She leaves the beach in a blue dress as a part of the ocean always stays with her.

I thought Wave had a simple storyline, but the drawings add depth. I love how her day begins boring and grey then splashes of blue are upon her as she plays in the ocean. Wave is a good wordless picture book for younger ages, since the plot is simple. All ages will enjoy the illustrations and colors.

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Wordless Wednesday: Sector 7 by David Wiesner

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Sector 7
Written & Illustrated by David Wiesner
Published 1999 by Clarion Books
Genre/Subject: Wordless Picture Book, Clouds, Imagination
Ages: 6+

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.

 

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Wordless Wednesday: Zoom by Istvan Banyai

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ZoomZoom
Illustrated by Istvan Banyai
Published July 1, 1998 by Puffin
Topics/Genre: Wordless Picture Book, Mystery 
Ages: 3+
 
Zoom is a fun wordless picture book for all ages. The book gradually zooms out to show more of the story. It moves slowly step-by-step zooming out to reveal more. You may think you know where the story is going, but it always keeps you guessing what will be next. I don’t want to describe everywhere that Zoom takes you, since that would spoil it. The story starts at a small element then gradually moves to a more complex environment. Go ahead and guess where the next page zooms out. I included the first three pictures to get a taste of the fun, but it doesn’t wreck the surprises. If you enjoy Zoom the author wrote a similar book, Re-Zoom.

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Doug Unplugged by Dan Yaccarino

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dougDoug Unplugged 

Written and Illustrated by Dan Yaccarino 
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on February 12, 2013 
Genre/Topics: Robots, Adventure, Humor
Ages: 4+, 40 pages 
 

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!

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Book Review: Rain! by Linda Ashman

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rainRain! 

Written by Linda Ashman 
Illustrated by Christian Robinson 
Published by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children on March 5, 2013 
Genre/Topics: Positive Attitude, Realistic, Weather
Ages: 4+, 32 pages 

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.

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Book Review: Green by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

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greenGreen 

Written & Illustrated by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
Published by Roaring Brook Press on January 1, 2012
Genre/Topics: Nature, Color
Ages: 2+, 36 pages 
Awards: Caldecott Honor Book 2013
 

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.