Thursday, August 16, 2018

Pet Ban! No Frogs in School by A. LaFaye

Bartholomew Botts loved pets.

Bart's room at home is a messy menagerie melee! He has dogs, several species of poultry, a caged canary, a tortoise in his drawer, a cat curled up in a fishbowl, and a fish in an aquarium. He's even got barnyard denizens, two goats, a pig, chicks, and a bunny, and a green snake lives in his bedside table.

So it's no surprise that when he starts to school, he takes a pet along to his classroom.

Bartholomew plopped Ferdinand the frog in his cool pink lunchbox.

But that day, while their teacher is showing his class how to mix secondary colors in art, Ferdinand hops into Lacey's paints and lands with a splat on Mr. Patanoose's head. Face-painting is not in his lesson plan--and Mr. Patanoose proclaims a new school rule.

"No frogs in school!" he declares.

Still, Bartholomew has other pets to take to school with him that are NOT frogs. But on Tuesday Sigfried the salamander goes woo-woo on the teacher's shoe, and he rules out all amphibians at school. On Wednesday Bartholomew brings Horace the hamster, definitely a mammal, along, but his speedy scurrying turns Mr. Patanoose's class into mess of squealing, chasing kids. Rodents are banned for Bart, but he still has Sylvia the snake to take along on Thursday, and when she slithers up toward the ceiling, the group goes wild!

Mr. Patanoose doesn't look happy.

"No more of YOUR pets!" he declares.

Not since Mary brought her little lamb to school has a classroom had so much fun with pets, and the literal-minded Bartholomew finds a way to liven up show-and-tell day with a pet for the whole classroom, in A. LaFaye's No Frogs in School (Sterling Books, 2018). It's a fun first week of school, with the author deftly working in a bit of biological vocabulary, while artist Eglantine Coulemans' illustrations visually extend the text and outdo the cuteness quotient in her comic line drawings of the lanky Mr. Patanoose, his vivacious and varied preschoolers, and charming critters mixing it up. Kirkus Reviews adds, "Each page lends itself to an energetic seek-and-find storytime that promises new discoveries upon multiple reads."

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Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Back to School: On the First Day of Kindergarten by Tish Rabe

It can be scary, going off to the first day of "big school,"and it is important that youngsters know what's going to happen on that important day.

On the first day of Kindergarten I thought it was so cool.

Making lots of friends,
Riding the bus to my school.

Not all kids take the bus, but all of them come to that moment when they and their parents wave goodbye, and they are on their own, but not alone. And in Tish Rabe's jolly sing-along version based on "The first day of Christmas," On the First Day of Kindergarten (Harper, 2018) new students get a preview of school days to come, singing their way through the doings in the first twelve days of school.

Rabe's varied classmates chat excitedly on the bus, and Rabe's young Kindergartner, with her ladybug backpack, twists around in her seat to see the other riders as the bus pulls up to the school, where they are greeted and led into their classroom by their teacher, and their first day begins.

Soon the various touseled-haired moppets are busy doing new things, and adding each new day's events to their song.

On the sixth day of Kindergarten,
I thought it was so cool....

Sliding down the slide,
Singing a song,
Running in a race,
Counting up to ten,
making lots of friends,
and riding my bus to school!

And there are plenty more activities to come, with chances for all sorts of students to shine--painting at easels, laughing together at lunch, and learning new skills in gym--in the days to come in this cheery sneak preview of the opening days of Kindergarten recounted in author Rabe's familiar rhymes and rhythm and artist Laura Hughes' cute ink, watercolor, and digital illustrations of all kinds of kids making messes and working hard at their lessons.

Share this one with the classics, Natasha Wing's The Night Before Kindergarten and Joseph Slate's look at first days from the teacher's point of view, Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten (Miss Bindergarten Books (Paperback)).

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Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Somefin in Common! Just Like Us! Fish by Bridget Heos

Humans live up in the air and fish live down in the water. We walk; they swim.

So how could we be anything alike? Well, did you know fish can be doting parents and good teammates? Or that they go to the spa, where they are pampered by other fish?

They use weapons to hunt and armor to protect themselves. Some fish even use lures to, well, go fishing!

Sure, some fish lay their eggs and swim away. But the daddy seahorse carries the eggs in his pouch, and even after the little ones hatch, they still nap and take refuge back inside their safe place. And cichlid parents keep their eggs inside their large mouths, and when the small fry hatch, they still pack themselves (like sardines in a can) inside when something scary cruises by.

And it's Ah! the Spa! for the toothy barracuda, who remains perfectly still so that a little swarm of wrasses can remove parasites from their scaly bodies. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em, and the little fish get lunch and protection for their work. In fact, if one happens to nip the big guy, the boss wrasse chases them away as if to say...

"What are you doing? That was one of our best customers!"

Some species are not so sanguine about their fellow fish. The angler fish sports his own fishing pole, with a fat, tasty-looking blob dangling to fool the gullible, and the stoplight loosejaw flashes red and green lights to lure prey to be his lunch.

Sometimes well-schooled, small fish find safety in numbers, swimming en masse to daze and confuse their predators. And some fish come with considerable offensive and defensive arms and armor: the warrior swordfish, the sawfish, the prickly porcupine fish, and the electric catfish come equipped like medieval warriors. Young halibut don't sport weapons, but the small fry know how to make the best of one neighborhood bully that nobody messes with--the jellyfish--hiding among its tentacles when a predator comes in sight. Nanna-nanna-boo boo! Can't catch me!

And for the salmon, there's no place like home, heading back to the old homeplace for the family reunion every year.

Bridget Heos' new entry in her nonfiction series, Just Like Us! Fish (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018) shows the many ways the fishes imitate people (or maybe we imitate them) to thrive under the sea. Artist Dave Clark has a lot of fun with his comic illustrations of fish making like humans, with plenty of visual humor on each double-page spread. Author Heos appends a handy glossary (Say What?), a bibliography, and a list of web articles for young piscine experts to polish up their science reports like pros.

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Monday, August 13, 2018

Wandering the Water Cycle: Ice Boy by David Ezra Stein

What does an ice cube worry about most?

Ice Boy has a cozy homelife with his parents and siblings in the freezer. Everyone has his or her own cubicle, however compact, but still he wonders what's next.

Mom and Dad say someday each of them will be "chosen," serving to cool a frosty drink, or if they are special enough, to chill a medicinal ice bag. But an epicurean ending, clinking in an iced cocktail, or an altruistic outcome, cooling a cold compress, don't really fire Ice Boy's imagination.

He decides waiting to be "taken" is not cool.

Ice Boy wanted more.

Even though his parents said "Never go outside" and the doctor always said, "Stay out of the sun," Ice Boy went outside.

Ice Boy went to the beach. He rolled right up to the edge of the water and rolled right in.

He feels different already!

"My edges are beginning to blur! " He was ... becoming...Water Boy! "Best day ever!"

Water boy rides the waves up onto the beach and soaks a beach towel. It's hot and he begins to steam! And then he begins to feel light-headed as he starts to rise up and up above the beach.

He was ... becoming.. Vapor Boy!

But then things begin to happen fast. He feels denser and finds himself part of a rapidly forming thunderhead. He rises higher and higher, as below him lightning flashes and thunder rolls. It's freezing up there, and he finds himself quite icy. He's Ice Boy once more, but this time he's round and heavy. And then he's dropping, dropping, down, down... until...


Clink! "Ice Boy! Is that YOU?" said his father. "You're a sight for sore ICE!"

Ice Boy finds himself floating in a fizzy drink with his family, and he has just begun to tell them all about his journey, when the person tosses his left-over ice out on the grassy lawn. His parents are afraid.

"Where will we go?" they lament.

"Let's find out!" said Ice Boy.

David Ezra Stein's little trip through changes in physical states, Ice Boy (Candlewick Press, 2018) is a wry look at the the water cycle, a comic-strip version of that favorite primary science topic that kids will find intriguing. Told in quip-filled speech balloons, Stein's watery stick figures are about as expressive as ice cubes can be, with some punny wordplay that adds to the fun of the whole science lesson, not to mention a slyly comic parable of life's changes. Kirkus Reviews coolly sums it all up: "An allegory for breaking away from the mold, the story doubles as a light lesson on the water cycle."

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Sunday, August 12, 2018

Bottomless Joy! Grandma's Purse by Vanessa Brantley-Newton

Today my Grandma Mimi is coming to visit.

When Mimi comes over, she always has new treasures to share.

And no matter what, they come from inside her purse.

Grandma Mimi believes in being prepared for any exigency.

"You never know what you'll want to have with you!" Mimi says.

Mimi's got it all in that purse. It's kind of like a magical cornucopia--a regular Santa Claus's pack to her granddaughter!

She has a little mirror to make sure she looks her best, and extra earrings, just in case she feels like fancying up her look during the day. She's got her "smell-good" spray, some hairpins, the scarf of many uses, Grandfather's coin purse that holds memories as well as nickels, her funny old phone with no photos, just friends' numbers, and, of course, something sweet for those times when you need a treat--like sit-still-at-sermon-time at church.

But today, her granddaughter finds something else in there--a purse of her own. Joyfully, she wraps herself in Grandma's scarf, dons her big sunglasses and beads, and struts her stuff with her new carryall.

Grandmas come in all sorts and so do their purses. Some are sleek clutches, and some are stylish leather handbags with intricate closings. Some are businesslike briefcases, some are youthful knapsacks of the fringed persuasion. Some are recklessly stuffed reticules or totes, not unlike a hobo's sack, bristling with knitting needles or a laptop, a box of dog treats, or sweets for the sweet. No matter what kind it is, Grandma's purse is almost magical, because it is as big as her heart, in Vanessa Brantley-Newton's Grandma's Purse (Random House, 2018). Brantley-Newton's salute to grandmothers celebrates all the wisdom and the ways that grandparents enrich a child's life, while her fantastically ebullient illustrations bespeak the joy that grandparents bring.

Says the New York Times Review, "... a tribute to the steadying force of grandparental love in a child's life... No illustrator does clothes, decor, and style better than Brantley-Newton."

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Saturday, August 11, 2018

Back to the Books: There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Books by Lucille Colandro

It's about that time when school-aged kids get that empty feeling inside. School is going to start soon, and there are sure to be stacks of thick, new textbooks there, all filled with stuff they don't know. It seems overwhelming.

But there is someone who knows how to get on top of everything to do with the beginning of school.



But books aren't all! There's that little business of school supplies. To write in all those books, the Old Lady swallows a pen, when she ingests a ruler and a folder to hold it in.


There's a lot to take in about this back to school business, but this Old Lady has had a lot of practice.


But true to form, all this ingestion never brings indigestion, in Lucille Colandro's There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Books! (Scholastic Books). Lucille Colandro and her trusty illustrator partner Jared Lee come up with a handy list of school supplies tossed in the mix in this parody of the famous folk song "There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly." Colandro's oh-so-silly spoof of school-supply shopping is bound to make kids snicker as they wait nervously for the day their school bus comes for them.

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Friday, August 10, 2018

Picky Picky! How To Feed Your Parents! by Ryan Miller

Matilda Macaroni wanted to try quiche. Her parents did NOT. The list of things Mr. and Mrs. Macaroni would eat was very short.

CHICKEN (only in nugget form)

BURGERS (only in a bag with ketchup, fries, and a toy)

PIZZA (only with pepperoni, delivered at the door.)

Their daily diet is dull, drab, humdrum...


Even when Grandma brings over goulash and gumbo and jambalaya, Matilda's parents turn up their noses and run for the fridge to rustle up some leftover takeouts.

Matilda tried new foods whenever she could--sushi at a sleepover, paprikash at a playdate....

But her parents remain implacable, preferring bowls of sticky sweet cereal that make the milk purple. Matilda Macaroni realizes that if she is going to get anything approaching varied fare, she is going to have to turn the tables on her picky parents and prepare their meals herself. With Grandma at her side, she takes on cookery, covering all the basics. She peruses recipes. Tasty and nutritious vittles become her specialty.

She perfected paella and conquered croquettes.

At last ready to confront her parents with her gourmet cuisine, Matilda stealthily empties the fridge of every vestige of fast food, and promises there will not be a quiche in sight.

"Just burgers!"

Her parents are put off by the presence of mushrooms and weird green things called arugula inside the bun, but they agree to try a bite.

And they find Matilda's novelle cuisine burger is better than any McBurger in a bag, in Ryan Miller's brand-new How to Feed Your Parents (Sterling Books, 2018). Youngsters who are a bit leery of new foods will laugh at stodgy parents who are the picky eaters. Illustrator Hatem Aly's skillful comic illustrations turn the finicky diner tale upside down as the kid gets to be the expert on nutrition and meal prep, a switcheroo which will tickle funnybones and perhaps tempt stuck-in-a-rut eaters to try new foods, too. All is cool with the culinary arts in the Macaroni's kitchen, and now... if Matilda can only get her mom and dad to tidy up their room....

For another tale of tricking fussy eaters, pair this one with Dan Marvin's But I Don't Eat Ants (POW Books, 2017) (see review here.)

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Thursday, August 09, 2018

Nighttime is Number Time: Bathtime, Mathtime by Danica McKellar



For toddlers, anytime is a teaching time, and bathtub time is a fine time to teach some math skills. Little ones' growing brains soak up learning like, well, sponges, and sleeping on a new skill helps it stay until another day.



In her brand-new math book, author Danica McKellar's Bathtime Mathtime (Random House, 2018), works early addition skills into a counting book which makes use of bathtime paraphernalia--three yellow rubber duckies add another to make four, and four bubbles ride the waves with five splashes.

In easy-going rhymes, counting skills become simple addition each time one more is added, and it's all good fun with Alicia Padron's charming illustrations of the bathtime scene, with a cute pup even getting into the action. To this sturdy board book, the book designer adds finger tabs alone the right margin to reinforce the addition skills, as one clean tot counts up sudsy bubbles. For a perfect pair, read this one at bedtime with McKellar's numerical salute to Goodnight Moon, Goodnight, Numbers.

TV actress (Winnie in the Wonder Years) and math advocate Danica McKellar's other books for very young mathematicians are Do Not Open This Math Book: Addition + Subtraction, and Ten Magic Butterflies.

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Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Taming the Beast Within! Allie All Along by Sarah Lynne Reul

It's a bummer when you break the first one from a new box of still sharp and shiny crayons. But to her big brother, Allie's reaction seems over the top.

She was suddenly...



and SOOO


Allie is transformed into a scowling, shaggy, three-toed red monster who throws herself on the floor and howls, in the throes of a full-fledged FIT!

Her big brother tries letting her punch his pillow. That helps, and Allie turns into a slightly smaller shaggy orange critter--but she's still raging--and still scary. Her brother hands her a favorite lovey to squeeze, and her anger eases. Allie turns green, but she's still enraged.

Big Brother tells her to count to ten and blow as hard as she can, and she shrinks into a smallish and blustery beastie--with a case of the blues. And after a therapeutic countdown from ten to one, Allie morphs into her true self, a little girl, a very sad little girl.


Big Brother tapes the two parts of her broken blue crayon together, and all's well that ends well, in Sarah Lynne Reul's just-published Allie All Along (Sterling Books, 2018). It's easier to tame the beast within when there's help at hand, and in Ruel's illustrations, with the raging Allie's anger featured in a full-bleed two-page spread, youngsters will see the irate Allie gradually calm down as the colors progress from a hot red, to orange, to green to a cool blue, set spot-art style on bright white background, until the two siblings share a hug. Artist Reul's endpapers show first the beautiful, brand-new blue crayon broken and complete the book with the finally fixed blue crayon with the tape dispenser beside it, proving the premise that there's always something to do to make things better.

Share this one with Molly Bang's classic Caldecott-winning When Sophie Gets Angry-Really, Really Angry… (Scholastic Bookshelf).

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Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Big Bargain! Elephant and Piggie BIGGIE! (Give Me 5 !) by Mo Willems

This book is a colossal bargain--five of Mo Willems' best-selling, award-winning beginning reader books about that unusual pair of buddies, Elephant and Piggie.

Author-illustrator Mo Willems, Caldecott winner for his blockbuster toddler tale, Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale, earned laughs and not a few tears in the eye from preschoolers and parents, and his sequels (see reviews here) were both hilarious and touching, a real watershed in books for the very young in both literary and artistic style.

But toddlers grow up, just like Trixie, Knuffle Bunny's owner, and academic achievement looms in their futures, and Mo Willems did not desert his fans. Following in the way of Theodor Seuss Geisel, author-artist Willems took on the challenge of making beginning reading books everything a book should be--with fully-developed divergent characters in one of the epic friendships of children's literature.

Now Willems' An Elephant And Piggie Biggie! (An Elephant and Piggie Book) (Hyperion, 2017) is a collection of five of his Elephant and Piggie stories, reproduced in full-size pages right from the originals, five books for the price of one! Elephant Gerald is a bit shy, somewhat reserved and inclined to follow the straight and narrow, while his best friend Piggie is an exuberant, enthusiastic, and extroverted adventurer with big ideas that sometimes require the assistance and/or rescue of her friend Gerald. Willems' series is what beginner readers should be, funny, surprising, insightful,  and done in expressive illustrations that extend the text with visual cues to help out emergent readers navigate the vocabulary, while giving up none of the elements that make any story absorbing.

This series has the virtue of starting out as a quick read-aloud and going on to become favorite read-alone fodder, making for good solo bedtime reading and perfect for vacation and car-trip reading, and parents will appreciate this one as the perfect birthday present. (Read reviews here.)

Included in this collection are the stories Today I Will Fly! (An Elephant and Piggie Book), Watch Me Throw the Ball! (Elephant and Piggie), Can I Play Too? (An Elephant and Piggie Book), Let's Go for a Drive! (An Elephant and Piggie Book), and Piggie's culinary classic, I Really Like Slop! (An Elephant and Piggie Book).


Monday, August 06, 2018

Pedal to the Metal! The Princess and the Pit Stop by Tom Angleberger

Where would you expect to find a princess?

In a palace? Waltzing with a prince? Sleeping on a pea?

Not this princess! She's handed her crown to her principal lady-in-waiting/pit crew chief to hold, and she's behind the wheel and out on the race course.

Once upon a time there was a princess who made a pit stop. While the birds and beasts changed her tires, her Fairy Godmother told her she was in last place!

She might as well give up!

Will she return to her tower for a good cry? Will she command an official Re-Start? Not this royal. She's nobody's Did Not Finish Princess.

She floors the accelerator and puts the pedal to the metal.

She cruises past the Kings' Men, passes Peter Rabbit, gives the air to the Three Bears, spins past Rumpelstiltskin... and ...

... she beats Jack and Jill down the hill, blows the doors off Mr. Big Bad Wolf, and leaves Little Jack Horner in the corner.

Even the Gingerbread Man concedes that maybe she can catch him.

This princess powers her way past the checkered flag, accepts her trophy and smiles through the obligatory power poses as the cameras flash. She even tapes a quick commercial. And then... it's on to the ball for some Happy Ever After, in Tom Angleberger's just published The Princess and the Pit Stop (Abrams Books, 2018). With a princess who leaves all of Fairy Tale Land in the dust, cruising by cameos of famed Nursery Rhyme characters, done up by the turbo-powered art of Caldecott winner Dan Santat, this comic-book-cum-fractured-fairy-tale is bound to take the lead at in the read-aloud winner's circle. Says School Library Journal, "A high octane storytime selection!"

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Sunday, August 05, 2018

Art-Making! Radiant Child by Javaka Steptoe



In his 2017 Caldecott Award-winning Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat (Americas Award for Children's and Young Adult Literature. Commended) (Little, Brown and Company) Jataka Steptoe portrays Jean Michel Basquiat as a born artist, as a preschooler sitting inside his apartment surrounded by pencils, drawing and drawing, while his mother Mathilde looks on proudly. Jean Michel's mom supported her son's art by drawing along with him, while the sounds of his father's favorite jazz played behind them. His art was somewhat strange, but his mom pronounced it beautiful.

Of course, lots of mothers say that about their children's first art, but Mathilde Basquiat took her son to the many museums in New York and gave him a thick copy of Grey's Anatomy to help him picture the human body. But young Jean Michel's drawings bore no trace of the classic painting style of the Old Masters or the careful draftsmanship of the anatomy textbook, but his mother understood what he was trying to do.



In his brief and meteoric career, Jean Michel Basquiat is credited with bringing street art from a curious novelty to recognition as a vibrant and significant art form. Author Jataka Steptoe, son of award-winning author-illustrator John Steptoe, (cf. his Caldecott-winning version of the Cinderella story, Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters: An African Tale (Picture Puffin), is no stranger to art and art history himself and brings the electric, eccentric, and brilliant work of Basquiat to the picture book world in a fine piece of storytelling; while illustrator Steptoe makes use of various styles of painting and layered materials, collaged paper and cardboard, using boards as well as canvas to catch the spirit of the young artist who did it his way. "Steptoe interprets Basquiat's style instead of inserting particular works. Vibrant colors and personal symbols channel the 'sloppy, ugly, and sometimes weird, but somehow beautiful' paintings, incorporating meticulously attributed collage elements and capturing the artist's energy and mystery," says Kirkus in their starred review.

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Saturday, August 04, 2018

Kid Codes? Baby Loves... Coding! by Ruth Spiro

Baby always follows the same steps to get from the rug to the toy box.

This pattern of steps is called an algorithm.

When Baby puts the toy train on its tracks, it has its own built-in algorithm to follow, too!

And when Baby puts the track together and sets the train switch to ON, Baby is a programmer.

Continuing their top-selling series of complex concepts for kiddies, author Ruth Spiro and artist Irene Chan's latest, Baby Loves Coding! (Baby Loves Science) (Charlesbridge, 2018), introduces the vocabulary of computer coding for the youngest tykes.

In learning the language of science, it is speculative whether the term for the process ever precedes the observation. Most babies derive great pleasure in discovering gravity--giggling as they drop their toys, their spoons, and sometimes their cereal bowls off their high chairs, all without any knowledge of the term for that phenomenon, but it is also sometimes true that having a name for something abstract makes it easier to understand--terms like democracy or trope or centrifugal force do help organize observations into a cogent concept, and that is what author Spiro is trying to do in her newest board book in the Baby Loves Science series. Irene Chan's soft and warm illustrations have considerable charm and illustrate their topic about as well as can be expected.

It's going to be a while before tots try to program, but when they do, they'll have the right words ready for it!

A few of the erudite titles in this series are Baby Loves Gravity! (Baby Loves Science), Baby Loves Aerospace Engineering! (Baby Loves Science), and Baby Loves Quarks! (Baby Loves Science).


Friday, August 03, 2018

You Gotta Be Squidding Me! Roof Octopus by Lucy Branam

It started with a tap at the window that woke Nora up.

There it sat--a octopus on her apartment building--a big one,

Nora has to tell somebody--quick!

Her dad, stirring waffle batter, gives a quizzical smile and her mother takes a quick look out the window and reports no octopus, until--a large tentacle wraps itself around the fire escape outside the window!

The neighbors are all abuzz, but they decide to keep their, er, housing situation quiet.

"It may be part of a migration," her father suggests hopefully.

Everyone decides to avert their gaze and pretend they know NOTHING--until Mr. Dodson's cheery wave encourages the Octopus to reach down and give him a hand washing his car. After all--many hands make light work!

And soon the helpful octopus is accepted. He walks the dogs and helps the mailman with his deliveries, and carries the neighbors' groceries upstairs, and soon he's accepted as part of the neighborhood. Nora starts making grandiose plans to take him to school for show and tell.

And then one morning...

... the Octopus was gone.

Nora is terribly disappointed that she won't get to be the star of show and tell time, but then one day, while she is in the middle of a math worksheet, there's a tap on the schoolroom window....

Mary and her famous lamb have nothing on Nora and her story of the octopus who followed her to school, in Lucy Branam's jolly story, Roof Octopus (Sleeping Bear, 2018). Rogerio Coelho's dreamlike rococo illustrations give this fun story its fantasy setting, just right for author Branam's tongue-in-cheek telling.

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Thursday, August 02, 2018

Thinking about THINKING! Your Fantastic Elastic Brain by Jo Ann Deak

Growing up, we think a lot about our bodies. Are we growing fast? Will we be too tall, or too short? Are our feet too big? Can we catch that ball? Can we run fast?

But most of us don't give any thought to what that stuff between our ears really does, besides holding up our hats!

But the brain is hard at work all the time, even when we are asleep.

The brain does all the things that make you YOU!

Jo Ann Deak's Your Fantastic Elastic Brain: Stretch It, Shape It (Sourcebooks/Little Pickle, 2017) introduces young readers to their amazing brains, what they look like, what they do, their parts and how they work together to make you be YOU. Author Deak describes the location and role of the parts of the brain--cerebrum, hippocampus, amygdalla, cerebellum, and the all-important prefrontal cortex, that center that monitors how you are doing and what to do next, and explains what to do to exercise the brain.

And you can make your brain do even more. Your brain's growing very fast during the first ten years of life. This is The Magic Decade.

Like lifting weights, learning new things strengthens your brain. Learning something new causes the brain to grow more connection among the neurons, and these connections help to increase the power of the brain, making it more "elastic" so it can hold more information. You are a neuro sculptor!

Explaining the human brain offers primary students an opportunity to stretch their own brains, teaching some vocabulary and encouraging young readers to understand that having new experiences and learning new information builds better brains. After all...

The brain is the most important part of the body!

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Wednesday, August 01, 2018

A Different Drummer! The Girl Who Thought in Pictures--The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin by Julia Finley Mosca

If you have ever felt different,
If you have ever felt low;

If you don't quite fit in,
There's a name you should know:

Temple Grandin!

Temple Grandin's parents happily welcomed her birth, but from the beginning, Temple was different. She hated her frilly but itchy baby dresses and like to twirl herself around and around in circles. She couldn't bear loud sounds and she didn't learn to speak until she was three. Busy places stressed her out and tantrums followed, so she didn't fit in at school at all.

But Temple's mother never gave up on her. She took her to doctors who at last came to a conclusion.

That thing with her brain?
It was autism, you see.

She was different, not less.
They all finally agreed.

Temple learned to read and write, but the best thing that happened was when her mother sent her out west to live on a ranch with her aunt. Temple learned that she understood the animals--the horses, the pigs, and the cattle--and they understood her. She realized that she thought like they did--in pictures! And suddenly she knew that her life's work was to be with animals. And with that self-knowledge, she eagerly returned to school and studied animal science, and at last found herself a teacher, a university professor teaching students about farm animals herself.

Julia Finley Mosca's picture book biography, The Girl Who Thought in Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin (Amazing Scientists) (Innovation Press, 2017) offers young readers an insight into the fact that not everyone thinks and understands the world in the same way, while describing how Temple Grandin used her special empathy for animals to make her own career and to find ways to handle animals humanely and with understanding. With the assistance of the artwork of Daniel Rieley, Mosca's biography paints a picture of a notable "cowgirl," lecturer, and woman scientist whose novel ways of thinking about the way we deal with animals shows the value of different ways of seeing the world.

So unique are our minds,

It take brains of all kinds!

For elementary-grade readers, the author offers selected back matter, including a conversation with Grandin, a timeline of her career, a bibliograpy containing books, videos, and web links, and a thumbnail summary of the facts of her life, a useful appendix for biography book reports.

For more information about this unusual scientist, see also noted science writer Sy Montgomery's Temple Grandin: How the Girl Who Loved Cows Embraced Autism and Changed the World (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). (Read my review here.)

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