Ages 6-8

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

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.

 

Book Review: Open Very Carefully by Nick Bromley

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book biteOpen Very Carefully: A Book With Bite 

Written by Nick Bromley 
Illustrated by Nicola O’Byrne 
Published February 1, 2013 by Nosy Crow 
Genre/Topics: Humor, Animals 
Ages 4+, 32 pages 

 

The book begins with the story of The Ugly Duckling, but then disaster occurs when a crocodile interrupts the story. The book challenges the reader to turn the pages very carefully, since there’s now a crocodile loose within the story. Throughout the book, the ugly duckling appears on the pages almost interacting with the crocodile. While the crocodile is in the book it eats letters and gobbles sentences. When the crocodile is asleep then a crayon is used to draw a tutu and bow, so it no longer appears scary. Finally, the crocodile eats through the pages until it leaves the book from an actual hole in the book’s back cover.

Open Very Carefully is a humorous book that connects the reader and book, since the writing continually asks if the book will still be read with a crocodile. There are also pages when the reader needs to shake the book to hopefully get the crocodile out. The end was especially fun, because there are holes where the crocodile ate pages and climbs out the back. The first time reading it could be fun to hide the back so it’s a surprise.

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Book Review: The Curious Garden by Peter Brown

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curious gardenThe Curious Garden 

Written and Illustrated by Peter Brown 
Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers on April 1, 2009 
Genre/Topics: Environment, City Life, Gardening 
Ages:6+, 40 pages 
 

Liam is a curious young boy who lives in crowded city with no gardens, which makes it quite boring and unappealing. One day while exploring his city, Liam stumbles upon old train tracks that actually have a few dying plants. Liam decides that these plants need a gardener, so he begins his task to care for the plants and watches them grow and flourish. The garden itself is curious and grows across the tracks and soon throughout the city. With time there are more gardeners and the gardens grow upon buildings and many small spaces throughout the city. It no longer is a boring and gray city.

I really enjoyed The Curious Garden. Many individuals live in industrial environments and assume that they can have no gardens and landscapes. However, gardens truly can grow upon building rooftops and nooks if we let the plants grow. There is an author’s note and he states that he was curious what would happen if an entire city decided to cooperate with nature and how would the city change. I especially like The Curious Garden, because there are a few full color pages with no words to really ‘experience’ how the city has changed from all city life to small gardens throughout. This book could be used in the classroom during a discussion about the environment, gardening, preservation, and how plants can grow within cities. I suggest this book for older ages, because there are more words on each page and to discuss the overall topic. Although, all ages can enjoy this colorful garden book.

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144While searching through photos I stumbled upon a potential garden similar to The Curious Garden in my own city of Tacoma, Washington. You can just barely see the train tracks running through the grass and wild flowers. I’m not sure how long this train track hasn’t been in use. It’s amazing what nature truly can do when we leave it alone. 

 

Book Review: It’s Spring!

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springIt’s Spring!

Written by Linda Glaser,
Illustrated by Susan Swan
Published January 1, 2002 by Millbrook Press 
Genre/Topics: Seasons, Nature, Realistic
Ages: 4+, 32 pages 

 

It’s Spring! is a colorful and educational book about how the season changes to Spring. The book follows one boy as he experiences different things during Spring.  It begins how winter coats are no longer needed, the ice melts and then there are puddles to jump in. The different senses are in the book as he feels  the soft buds on his cheek, hears birds cheep, and smells daffodils. Spring is now the season to plant and he starts a garden. He notices that the sun shines longer and the days are warmer. The illustrations are very unique, because it’s made with three-dimensional cut paper then layered to give depth and photographed with lights to give shadows. The pictures almost appear as though the flower is popping out of the page. The back of the book provides Spring nature activities. 

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Happy 1st Day of Spring!

 

9/11 Book: September 12th Everything Would Be All Right

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Children's Books & More

September 12th: We Knew Everything Would Be All Right

by Materson Elementary Students in Kennett, Missouri

Ages 5-7, 32 pages

The horrible acts on September 11, 2001, created questions about what and how to explain the events to young children. September 12th: We Knew Everything Would Be All Right is different because first grade students themselves wrote the book. It is a simple book that discusses that ordinary things still occur, such as homework, story time, and 2+2=4. The message is of hope that even after bad things occur that each day is a new beginning. It briefly discuss what occurred, so it’s not very graphic.

 

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9/11 Book: Heroic Fireboat

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Children's Books & More

Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey by Maira Kalman

Ages 6 -9, 48 pages

This is the inspiring true story of the John J. Harvey-a retired New York City fireboat reinstated on September 11, 2001. Originally launched in 1931, the Harvey was the most powerful fireboat of her time. After the September 11 attacks, with fire hydrants at Ground Zero inoperable and the Hudson River’s water supply critical to fighting the blaze, the fire department called on the Harvey for help.

The book provides brief history of events during Harvey’s prime in the 1930s. The pictures are beautiful and provide a unique story during a tragic event. It briefly explains what occurred without going into too much detail. The focus is upon the community’s involvement that creates a discussion about everyone’s role and the importance of coming together.

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Back to School Book: Butterflies in My Stomach

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Butterflies in My Stomach and Other School Hazards 

Written & Illustrated by Serge Bloch 
Published  by Sterling on August 5, 2008
Genre/Topics: First Day of School, Humorous, Idioms
Ages: 4+, 32 pages 

The first day of school brings many emotions from excitement to nerves. This is a book to hopefully ease those butterflies in your stomach before you begin school. We’ve all heard unique speech expressions that don’t need an explanation, such as ‘it’s raining cats and dogs’, ‘cat caught your tongue’, ‘the early bird gets the worm’, ‘tickled pink’, ‘apple of my eye’, and many more. However, as children these expressions can be very confusing especially on the first day of school when you’re already nervous.

A child begins his first day of school and feels awful from the start when he wakes on ‘the wrong side of the bed’ and almost missed the bus which would cause him to be ‘in a real pickle’. The teacher tried to ease his worries stating that he was ‘all ears’ when he was ready to talk then read a funny book which had students ‘laughing their head off’. He visits the school librarian and learns that you can ‘get lost in a book’. He hopes to play outside at recess, yet everybody must come inside because ‘it’s raining cats and dogs’, but the boy is sad because he doesn’t see his dog from the sky. The story concludes with the boy arriving at home and greeting his dog, which made him feel as ‘happy as a puppy with two tails’.

I really enjoyed this book. There are a total of thirty-five idioms throughout the book. You can play a game to find all the idioms and then see who can explain them. It’s amazing how idioms make each language unique. The illustrations are great, because most of the book is simple black and white but the highlighted idiom is in color. I highly suggest this book for the first day of school or whenever you want a good laugh.

 

Book Review: Chopsticks

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Chopsticks

Chopsticks
Written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Illustrated by Scott Magoon
Published by Hyperion Books on January 24th 2012
Genre/Topics: Humorous, Friendship, Be Yourself 
Ages: 4-8, 40 pages 
 
Chopsticks were best friends who were always together and did everything together. Nobody could remember a time when they weren’t together. However, something tragic occurred when they attempted new skills together. Chopstick was whisked away for help. and luckily it was a clean break, so Chopstick would soon be better. Chopstick stayed next to Chopstick each day until somebody mentioned that it was time to move on and try new things without Chopstick. Soon Chopstick learned new talents without his friend. Finally, Chopstick was better and together they learned that being apart actually made them stronger yet they still remained great friends. 
 
I really enjoyed Chopsticks and it made me laugh as I read it. It’s a wonderful book to teach young children that it’s okay to work together, but also be apart. There are no pronouns (he/she) in the book, so the name Chopstick is used for both.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Book Review: Yoon and the Jade Bracelet

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Yoon and the Jade Bracelet 

Written by Helen Recorvits
Illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska
Published August 5th 2008 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Genre/Topics: Realistic Fiction, Cultural, Korean, Bullying, Friendship
Ages: 6-9, 32 pages 

More than anything Yoon wants to fit in at school and make friends, so what she desires for her birthday is a jump rope. Yoon believes that the children will let her play jump rope with them and she’ll finally have some friends. When it is her birthday, Yoon’s mother gives her a Korean story book about a little girl who tricked a tiger. The special present Yoon receives is a jade bracelet that was her grandmother’s. Symbols inside the jade bracelet mean Shining Wisdom. Neither present is a jump rope, but Yoon pretends to be happy. At school a girl notices her jade bracelet and tells Yoon how beautiful it is. If she lets Yoon wear it the girl promises to be her friend and she can jump rope. Yoon knows deep down that she shouldn’t give such a special item, but she finally lets the girl borrow it for one day. However, the girl doesn’t give it back and Yoon’s mother believes she lost it. Yoon begs to have her jade bracelet back and tells the teacher it is hers. The teacher asks Yoon how she can prove it is hers. Yoon whispers that inside it is written Shinning Wisdom, but the other girl can’t tell what it says. Yoon gets her jade bracelet back and is the tiger who tricked the girl.

I really enjoyed Yoon and the Jade Bracelet, since you may not see this type of bullying often in books. It shows the cultural importance between her mother. Yoon is the same character from My Name is Yoon.

Book Review: The Frog Prince Continued

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The Frog Prince Continued

Written by Jon Scieszka
Illustrated by Steve Johnson
Published May 1, 1991 by Puffin 
Genre/Topics: Humor, Alternative Fairy Tale 
Ages: 6+, 32 pages 
 

I  love Jon Scieszka’s book The True Story of the Three Little Pigsso I had high expectations for The Frog Prince Continued. I was not disappointed as I laughed throughout the book. There is a unique twist on “happily ever after”, ever since the Frog Prince kissed the Princess. She’s also not happy, since his tongue always sticks out, she finds lily pads in his pockets, and he leaps everywhere. So the Frog Prince begins a journey looking for a witch to turn him back into a frog. He meets interesting characters along his journey such as a witch who wants him to finish eating an apple, but he knows his fairy tales and doesn’t eat it. Then he meets a witch with a gingerbread house who is expecting Hansel and Gretel soon. Finally, the Frog Prince returns home to discover that the Princess was worried about him. She kissed his lips and both turned into frogs and together they lived happily ever after.

 

 

Book Review: My Name is Yoon

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My Name is Yoon 

Written by Helen Recorvits
Illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska
Published April 3, 2003 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux 
Genre/Topics: Cultural, Realistic Fiction, Korean 
Ages: 6+, 32 pages
Awards: Ezra Jack Keats New Illustrator Award (2004), Bank Street – Best Children’s Book of the Year (2008)
 

Yoon has moved to the United States from Korea and now must adjust to her new life. Her father tells her that now she must learn how to write her name in English. However, Yoon doesn’t want to write her name in English and feels her name looks happy in Korean. It means Shining Wisdom, but her father reminds her that even when written in English her name still means Shining Wisdom. When she attends school she learns about cat and must write her name on the paper, but she doesn’t want to write Yoon. Instead, she wrote cat on each line. Yoon doesn’t fit in and has no friends. She wants to go back to Korea where she is happy and the teacher likes her. A girl at recess gives Yoon a cupcake and Yoon decides that her schoolmates will like her if she is a cupcake. Finally, she writes her name as Yoon. She writes her name in English and it means Shining Wisdom.

I enjoyed this cultural book about fitting into a new place. Yoon wanted to still be in Korea and didn’t want to fit in at first. Slowly, she learned that different is good and she can still be herself too.

Yoon’s name written in Korean.

 

Book Review: Uncle Peter’s Amazing Chinese Wedding

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Uncle Peter’s Amazing Chinese Wedding 

Written by Lenore Look 
Illustrated by Yumi Heo 
Published January 3, 2006 by Atheneum/Anne Schwartz Books
Genre/Topics: Realistic Fiction, Cultural, Chinese Wedding, Family 
Ages: 6+, 40 pages 

 

This is a cute story told from the perspective of a young girl named Jenny who is the only person not happy that her favorite uncle is getting married. Normally, she loves weddings but she is her Uncle Peter’s special girl and feels that he is leaving her. As Jenny puts it ‘I am the jelly on his toast, and the leaves in his tea’. Everyone else is joyous and celebrating, but Jenny is sad. The book describes the Chinese wedding process and what the day would be like hundreds of years ago. Uncle Peter drives his car to pick up the bride, but is told that he can’t see her yet and must pay up. So the groom bargains and finally pays two hundred dollars until the bride appears wearing a red dress. It’s time for the tea ceremony where the bride is officially part of the family and she serves tea. Jenny has a sneaky idea and empties the tea-pot and puts just water to get the bride in trouble. Jenny’s mother  talks with her and finally Jenny understands to be happy for uncle. The wedding fun continues with exchanging red money packets, speeches, outfit changes, and dancing. The bride gives Jenny a special box filled with butterflies and tells her thanks for sharing your amazing uncle.

Today, my sister is getting married so hopefully everything is amazing. I’m even a bridesmaid, so I should have lovely photos to share.

 

Book Review: Pop! The Invention of Bubble Gum

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Pop! The Invention of Bubble Gum 

Written and Illustrated by Meghan McCarthy 
Published April 5, 2011 by Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books 
Genre/Topics: Nonfiction, Invention, Biography, Food
Ages: 6+, 40 pages 
 

Pop! The Invention of Bubble Gum is the interesting story about how Dubble Bubble chewing gum was invented. It was made in small candy factory in Philadelphia in the 1920s by a man named Walter Diemer.  Walter was an accountant, but became curious about a laboratory next to his office. The company was trying to make a new kind of chewing gum. Walter experimented with different mixtures until finally bubbles formed. He added some flavor and began to chew it. Walter blew large bubbles from the mixture. However, the next day the mixture was as hard as a rock and wouldn’t blow a bubble. So, Walter continued to find the correct ingredients and finally had what he wanted. He added pink coloring, since that was the only color available. Batches were sent to  local stores and Walter Diemer gave gum blowing lessons. He never got rich from his invention, but he didn’t care because he enjoyed making people happy as they blew bubble gum. The book provides additional information about Walter Diemer, gum facts, and the history of gum.

Fun Gum Facts: 

  • If you swallow your gum, it won’t stay in your stomach for seven years.
  • Dubble Bubble was included in ration kits for American soldiers serving in World War II.
  • The largest bubble recorded is set by Susan Montgomery Williams for twenty-three inches in diameter.
  • During World War II, some kids kept their Dubble Bubble “alive” in glasses of water at night. Some even managed to continue chewing one piece for as long as a month!
  • Chewing sugarless gum can prevent tooth decay.
  • Chewing gum on an airplane will prevent your ears from popping.