A Blog of Children's Literature

Otto’s Orange Day April 13, 2011

Otto's Orange DayOtto’s Orange Day by Jay Lynch
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Otto’s Orange Day by Jay Lynch and illustrated by Frank Cammuso (2008)

Beginning Reader, 40 pages

An orange tabby cat named Otto loves the color orange. He even has an orange song he wrote, singing the praises of the color. When Aunt Sally Lee sends Otto a magical orange lamp as a gift, it is no surprise that Otto asks Genie to make everything orange in his only wish. At first, Otto thinks this is the best decision he’s ever made, but shortly after he realizes his mistake. With everything orange, people cannot distinguish between traffic light signals, find criminals (all who are orange and wearing orange), and find their homes. Otto and Aunt Sally Lee must come up with a great plan to get Genie to revert Otto’s wish and turn everything back to the way it used to be. In a co-authored Toon Book, Jay Lynch and Frank Cammuso bring Otto’s adventure to life in a graphic novel for beginning readers. Jay Lynch’s use of rhyme adds a playfulness to the text and Otto’s behavior. Cammuso’s orange illustrations give a deeper connotation to color with their appeal to the senses: as a flavor, a mood, or an environment. With a format that is likely to attract reluctant readers and comic lovers alike, Otto’s Orange Day will introduce new readers to the graphic novel format while encouraging reading and comprehension. A definite must to include in a booktalk that covers multiple formats for ages 4-8.


Ubiquitous: Celebrating Nature’s Survivors

Ubiquitous: Celebrating Nature's SurvivorsUbiquitous: Celebrating Nature’s Survivors by Joyce Sidman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Ubiquitous: Celebrating Nature’s Survivors by Joyce Sidman (2010)

Poetry, 40 pages

In a truly ingenious marriage between poetry and science, Joyce Sidman creates a colorful lesson of the world’s 1% of species that have survived its evolution, starting with bacteria 3.8 billion years ago. With a topic that might bore non-science lovers, Sidman pairs the history of each species or large group with a poem inspired by the creature to create an engaging book to satisfy various readers’ palates. Along with amazing colorful illustrations and different layouts for every new creature, unique poetry with different styles and forms creates a surprise at every turn of the page. On the right-hand page, each creature’s historical existence is shared along with its Latin term and size. At the end of the book is a glossary that defines poetry and science terms alike for extra curious readers. Most impressive are the end pages that capture the earth’s existence in a bending timeline that attempts to capture all 4.6 billion years and each creature’s birth on earth. Ubiquitous would be a great book to include in a science lesson or booktalk for first grade and up.


Born to be a Butterfly

Born To Be A Butterfly (DK Readers, Level 1: Beginning to Read)Born To Be A Butterfly by Karen Wallace
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Born to be a Butterfly by Karen Wallace (2000 or 2010)

Beginning Reader, 32 pages

The perfect book for curious little explorers, Born to be a Butterfly gives readers an in-depth look at the developmental stages of butterfly life from egg to full-fledged winged beauty. As a level one DK Reader, the book is a great beginning read for children using high frequency words. Karen Wallace also includes some vocabulary that is neatly boxed with an image and the vocabulary word, all of which are reviewed on the last page of the book. With ample white or sky blue space, the layout provides large print and clear photography, allowing the reader’s eye to focus on main points. With very detailed close-ups of caterpillars and butterflies, some children may not enjoy the not-so-cute images. However, to those favoring nature, science, and nonfiction, Born to be a Butterfly will be a delightful introduction into the butterfly world. Parents will also enjoy its sturdy cover, allowing for easy packing and the opportunity to take the text with on a butterfly walk. I would definitely booktalk the book to ages 4-8.


Here’s A Little Poem: A Very First Book of Poetry February 14, 2011

Filed under: Beginning Readers and Poetry — akibird @ 1:27 pm
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Here's A Little Poem: A Very First Book of PoetryHere’s A Little Poem: A Very First Book of Poetry by Polly Dunbar
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Here’s a Little Poem: A Very First Book of Poetry by Jane Yolen and Andrew Fusek Peters and illustrated by Polly Dunbar (2007)

Poetry, 105 pages

Full of sunshine and rhyme, Here’s a Little Poem captures the whimsicality of youth and the essence of day to day life. Through a multitude of poetic voices, Yolen and Peters have created a flowing narrative on growing and learning through the eyes of a child. Dunbar aptly creates a unique and fanciful visual experience for each poem that carries itself into the tone of each section of the collection, producing a colorful mosaic of childhood moments in tongue-tickling verse. As an extensive collection of over sixty short poems, the book could work as a bedtime ritual or independent practice for a beginning reader. While the piece would be too lengthy to read aloud completely at story time, sharing a couple of favorite poems during a booktalk may spark an interest in young poets.


Are You Ready to Play Outside?

Filed under: Beginning Readers and Poetry — akibird @ 1:21 pm
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Are You Ready to Play Outside? (An Elephant and Piggie Book)Are You Ready to Play Outside? by Mo Willems
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Are You Ready to Play Outside? by Mo Willems (2008)

Beginning Reader, 60 pages

Gerald and Piggie have a day full of outdoor fun planned when their hopes are washed out by a rainstorm. Piggie is devastated, but inspiration comes from two small dirt dwellers that show the importance of friends and fun in any weather. The cover of Are You Ready to Play Outside? is reminiscent of a Dr. Seuss work, and with its large text, along with its simple yet effective illustrations, the book is sure to produce just as many laughs. Willems’ uncomplicated style creates a book that is great for a beginner to explore independently or to read to parents.


Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse

Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reversible VerseMirror Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse by Marilyn Singer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Mirror Mirror by Marilyn Singer (2010)

Beginning Reader, 32 pages

Marilyn Singer turns traditional fairytales upside down in Mirror Mirror by using her reverso, two way paired poems that tell both sides of each story using the same words. A reader will need background knowledge of the original tales to appreciate and understand the juxtaposition of the poems, as in “Bears in the News” where the first poem finds a startled Goldie Locks a victim, and the other shows the innocent bear family coming home to an intruder. Kudos to Singer for working with limited language to produce both points of view for each tale and to Masse for her colorfully contrasted illustrations that change perspective to capture both poems perfectly. As a creative collection of opposing poems, Mirror Mirror is a new twist on some classics to share with beginning readers during a book talk or story time.


Bink and Gollie

Filed under: Beginning Readers and Poetry — akibird @ 12:56 pm
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Bink and GollieBink and Gollie by Kate DiCamillo
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Bink and Gollie by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee and illustrated by Tony Fucile (2010)

Beginning Reader, 81 pages

As opposites in almost every way, friends Bink and Gollie share their comical adventures involving outrageously bright socks, imaginary mountainous journeys, and homeless fish in their tales of compromise, understanding, and “marvelous companion[ship].” Kids of all ages will laugh at Fucile’s well planned artistic composition that utilizes sparse black and white backgrounds, playful font, and brightly colored and quirky characters in action. As a small chapter book for beginning readers, Bink and Gollie will make little ones feel like big kids tackling the three vignettes with their sometimes more advanced language, yet the illustrations and textual repetitions will help contextualize any new vocabulary. DiCamillo and McGhee’s creative writing style is sure to be a success at story time at home, school, and the library!