Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Do You Know Which Ones Will Grow?

Susan Shea's Do You Know Which Ones Will Grow? was one of the Cybils finalists in the picture book category.  I read it back in January but saw it on the shelves the other day and pulled it out again.  This is one of the more clever lift and pull flap books I have seen.

The premise of the book is determining what things can grow: a duckling to a duck, a car to a truck?, a kitten to a cat, a cap to a hat?  It continues on in the same format something that can grow and then something silly that can not until it ends with the a question: "can a baby grow and become . . . YOU?"

The illustrations are done in bright, bold colors and it is amusing to see a washcloth turn into a towel, a sweater into a coat and a watch into a clock.  The comparisons are very clever and humorous which lend to a fun read aloud for kids.  My kids loved this book - especially my four-year-old.  I highly recommend it.  

Monday, July 9, 2012

Non-Fiction Monday

Welcome to Non-Fiction Monday.  Please, leave your non-fiction posts in the comments below and I will update with everyone's contributions throughout the day. 

I came upon the greatest non-fiction graphic novel: Around the World.  I love to travel.  Currently my daughter and I are scheming to move our family to Paris - we decided that we need to first, learn French and second, save a lot of money.  So it may be awhile.  But needless to say this book quenched my thirst for adventure and world travel, at least momentarily.

Matt Phelan's book Three Remarkable Journeys: Around the World, tells the story of three world travelers in the 1800's.  The first story is that of Thomas Stevens who began his journey in San Francisco in 1884 on a $110 Columbia bicycle with 50 inch wheels.  He first set off to cross the country but when he made it to Massachusetts he decided he wanted to bike around the world.  

The second story belongs to Nellie Bly.  She is a female reporter living in New York City in 1888 who proposes to her editor that she can beat Phileas Fogg's 80 days and travel around the world in 74 days. She was told she could not do it.  But one year later her editor called her back in and said she set sail in the morning. Her trip takes her on train, boat and carriage and it is a close race against time. 

Joshua Slocum is the third intrepid traveler who sailed around the world starting in 1895.  Steamships were coming in and sailing was going out but he set out on the first solo journey on the seas in his sailboat.  He faces times of loneliness and a lot of the pictures depict memories of a previous journey with his wife.  While each story depicts the emotions of the journey - this one particularly focuses in on  the emotional side of the journey.  

The three stories each focus in on a different mode of transportation and very different adventurers.  I loved this book.  The illustrations tell a large portion of the story and do very well at depicting the humor and the hardships of the journeys.  I think the more muted color choices also lend to transporting the reader to the time period. This is a fantastic look into the changing modes of transportation in the 1800's and especially into the fascination of world travel at that time.  

I read the entire story to myself and the first story of Thomas Stevens to my 7-year-old.  She really enjoyed that story and is excited for the other two stories, but I would say that the targeted audience is probably a little older - perhaps 3rd or 4th grade and up.  


Over at Simply Science the World's Scariest Dinosaurs is being highlighted - a book that focuses on the "most extreme" of the bad guys.  

Shelf-employed reviews a new series of books for young readers - All about Nature - perfect for igniting backyard discovery this summer. 

NC Teacher Stuff highlights Clothesline Clues to Jobs People Do - a book geared toward pre-k and K that has visual clues for the reader to guess the occupation on each page.  

100 Scope Notes reviews Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales: One Dead Spy - a graphic novel about America's first spy.  

Jean Little Library reviews The Big Green Book of the Big Blue Sea - a book about the Sea that also contains interactions for at home science experiments.  

At Booktalking, The Adventures of Medical Man: Kids' Illnesses and Injuries Explained is reviewed - using 5 different movie genres and one comic book to explain common illnesses and injuries.

MotherReader reviews Bird Talk: What Birds are Saying and Why - A picture book grouping birds together based on how they communicate. 

True Tales & A Cherry On Top reviews Martin de Porres: The Rose in the Desert - it tells the story of Martin de Porres - born into poverty and canonized into Sainthood.  

A Teaching Life reviews two books - The Boy Who Bit Picasso and The Mysteries of Angkor Wat.  

At Biblio File Running to Extremes: Ray Zahab's Amazing Ultramarathon Journey is reviewed - a story about Ray Zahab's journey from a directionless life to Ultramarathon winner.  

The Nonfiction Detectives reviews Little Rock Girl 1957 - tells about the Civil Rights movement and how one photo helped create change. 
Books 4 Learning reviews Henry Aaron's Dream - Henry had a dream to be a baseball player, only he didn't own a bat or a ball.  

Gathering Books reviews Music for Alice - the life story of Alice Sumada, a dancer in her late 80s.

Bookends reviews Mrs. Harkness and the Panda - the story of bringing pandas to the U.S. in 1934.

All About the Books with Janet Squires reviews The Beetle Book - a book about all things Beetle.  


Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Great Cake Mystery

Yesterday we went to watch the fireworks at the Lincoln Memorial.  They really are quite amazing and we had a fabulous time.  If you ever have the chance to celebrate the 4th of July in Washington, D.C.,  I highly recommend it.

As I ran out the door I grabbed a copy of Alexander McCall Smith's The Great Cake Mystery and threw it in my bag.  On the metro ride down, my 7 year-old daughter fished it out and she and two of her friends crowded around my seat as I began reading.  

The Great Cake Mystery tells the story of Precious Ramotswe, a young girl living in Africa who is destined to become a detective. In fact when Precious grows up she is the heroine of McCall Smith's bestselling series The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, although that really makes no difference to the child reader.  The story tells of the first mystery that Precious experiences that turns her towards the life of a detective.  Food keeps disappearing from the school, a piece of cake, a slice of bread with strawberry jam and then iced buns.  A rotund boy is accused but denies snatching the food and Precious sets out to solve the mystery looking for evidence and proof.  

This story is a very quick read - we finished it on the metro ride home with plenty of time to spare.  The soon to be second grade girls really enjoyed the story and the ending.  Precious is a very likable character, the descriptions of life in Africa are interesting and the mystery is fun.  The illustrations, by Iain McIntosh, are simply done in just red, black and gray, but they might just steal the show.  

While overall I thought this was a fun, easy read that the targeted age did enjoy, I must say the writing wore a little on me.  I don't like writing that talks down to children and over explains so that children will understand - and I felt that this novel did that when it was not necessary.  The space taken in the novel for multiple explanations could have been used for more detail and descriptions.  That being said, overall it was a fun read that we all enjoyed on the way to our fourth of July festivities.   

Monday, July 2, 2012

Red Knit Cap Girl - Winner!

We had a crazy weather weekend around here - sorry for the delay in posting!  The winner is number 1

 - Cara.  Please email me at with your mailing address.  

More fun book reviews to come . . .