Perfect Picture Book Friday

PPBF: Guji Guji by Chih-Yuan Chen

Perfect Picture Book Friday is here with the adorable Guji Guji by Chih-Yuan Chen.

Check out Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog feature Perfect Picture Book Fridays. She has compiled a complete list of recommended picture books with links to resources for home and the classroom. It’s awesome!

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Title: Guji Guji

Author/Illustrator: Chih-Yuan Chen

Publisher: Kane/Miller Book Publishers, 2004

Fiction

Ages:  4 and up

Themes: humor, animals, family, love, differences and acceptance, nature vs. nurture, adoption

Opening: “An egg was rolling on the ground. It rolled through the trees. It rolled across the meadow. It rolled all the way down the hill. Finally, it rolled into a duck’s nest.

Synopsis:  (Adapted from the New York Times) When fate rolls a crocodile egg into Mother Duck’s nest (she is too busy reading to notice), her three ducklings end up with a strange sibling. The fourth ”duckling” is the biggest of the brood. He’s less an ugly duckling than a clumsy one, however, and as his brothers learn to swim, dive and waddle, he makes the biggest splash of all.

Enter three conniving crocodiles with plans for the odd ”duck.” Since crocodiles eat ducks, they explain, it is Guji Guji’s duty to deliver his family to them. Our hero wanders off to hatch a plan. ”I am not a bad crocodile,” he thinks. ”Of course, I’m not exactly a duck either.”

The next day, when Mother Duck and her family go to practice diving, three bad crocodiles are waiting under the bridge, jaws agape. Guji Guji is ready for them. Instead of ”fat, delicious ducks,” the crocodiles get a very unappetizing surprise: ”three big, hard rocks” from the top of the bridge.

Resources and ideas: Teaching plan from Kane Miller; Lesson plan from StorylineOnline; Reading comprehension questions from TeachersPayTeachers

What I thought: Chih-Yuan Chen is an author and illustrator from Taiwan and has won the Hsin Yi Picture Book Award three times. I can see why! I love the style of the art, and I love the fact that Guji Guji makes the most of the fact that he is different from his duck siblings. Instead of feeling bad about himself, he shows those crocodiles the difference between right and wrong. Chen said, “It is my hope that children from all over the world can learn to accept different people and things, and see the world with broader views and minds.”

See also: Reading and discussion by Daniel Pinkwater and Scott Simon of NPR

And here is a video reading from StorylineOnline:

Enjoy and let me know what you think!

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Categories: Perfect Picture Book Friday | Tags: , , , | 16 Comments

Perfect Picture Book Friday: Elise Broach’s Wet Dog!

Perfect Picture Book Friday is here with Wet Dog! by Elise Broach, illustrated by the much-loved David Catrow.

Check out Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog feature Perfect Picture Book Fridays. She has compiled a complete list of recommended picture books with links to resources for home and the classroom. It’s awesome!

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Title: Wet Dog!

Author/Illustrator: Elise Broach and David Catrow

Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers (Penguin), 2005, reprinted in 2007

Fiction

Ages:  5 and up

Themes: humor, animals, weather, summer, manners, perseverance (and personally I would like to add facial expressions!)

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Opening: “He was a good old dog and a hot old dog, as he lay in the noonday sun. And he dozed and he drowsed in the beating-down sun, with his long pink tongue hanging out.

“Well, that too-hot dog in the too-hot sun just had to cool off somehow. So he heaved to his feet, and he sniffed the air, and he trotted off down the road . . .”

Synopsis:  On a hot, hot day, a good old dog just has to get some relief! Around the steamy country lanes, he sniffs and searches until he finds a chauffeur washing a shiny car, a baker scrubbing some sticky pans, and a florist spraying a pink bouquet. they’re all getting ready for a country wedding, and this overheated pup just wants to plunge into the fun! and water! but will the wedding party in their fancy finery welcome this gotta-be-cool pooch?

Resources and ideas: draw-your-own facial expression chart for emotions; discuss hot-weather issues like heat exhaustion, sunburn, plants withering, and drought; discuss ways to warm up in a cold winter; discuss how other mammals regulate their body temperature

What I thought: HILARIOUS! The story is cute, but the illustrations really make the book what it is.

Wet Dog! was also reviewed in 2010 on Kate’s Bookery Blog.

Enjoy and let me know what you think! 

Categories: Books we love, Perfect Picture Book Friday | Tags: , , , , | 10 Comments

Perfect Picture Book Friday: Darcy Pattison’s Wisdom, the Midway Albatross

Today I want to feature a gorgeous self-published book that I really wish I’d written myself…. Darcy Pattison and Kitty Harvill‘s Wisdom, the Midway Albatross.  It’s exactly the kind of book I love to read, a biography that paints a bigger, clearer picture of the world we live in.

Check out Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog feature Perfect Picture Book Fridays. She has compiled a complete list of recommended picture books with links to resources for home and the classroom. It’s awesome!

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Author: Darcy Pattison

Illustrator: Kitty Harvill

Publisher: Mims House, 2012

Nonfiction

Ages: 6-12

Theme: birds, endangered species, conservation, world ecology, natural disasters

Opening: “Many years ago, on the tiny Midway Atoll in the heart of the Pacific Ocean, a wild chick hatched. She was a gooney bird-a Laysan Albatross. The crowded, noisy rookery could be a dangerous place. Many chicks would not live long enough to learn to fly.”

Synopsis: The oldest bird in the world, documented with banding, is Wisdom, the Midway Albatross. She was on Midway when the Japanese Tsunami hit and this is her amazing story of survival of manmade and natural disasters for over 60 years. She has survived the dangers of living wild, plastic pollution, longline fishing, lead poisoning, and the Japanese earthquake. At 60, she’s still laying eggs and hatching chicks. It’s a story of survival and hope amidst the difficulties of life. (from Amazon)

Resources: There are many sources for further reading and study listed at the end of the book, including Save the Albatross: A Global Campaign by BirdLife International and the North American Bird Banding Laboratory. I found a good explanation of tsunamis for kids with graphics and a video. There is information about plastic pollution at the Plastic Pollution Coalition. I also think it would be interesting to start a discussion about events that other animals or people may witness or survive over a lifetime (for example, we know a lot of people who were born before or during World War II and have seen a lot since then), which can provide a framework for looking at history. The books about Owen and Mzee tell the story of an animal friendship that formed after Owen, a baby hippo, was stranded and orphaned after the tsunami of 2004.

Enjoy!

Categories: Books we love, Perfect Picture Book Friday | 23 Comments

Perfect Picture Book Friday: Janell Cannon’s Stellaluna

Perfect Picture Book Friday is here with Stellaluna by Janell Cannon, one of my household favorites. I have saved the book and the little Stellaluna finger puppet for my future grandkids.

Check out Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog feature Perfect Picture Book Fridays. She has compiled a complete list of recommended picture books with links to resources for home and the classroom. It’s awesome!

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Title: Stellaluna

Author/Illustrator: Janell Cannon

Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (Harcourt), 1993

Fiction

Ages:  4 to 8

Themes: adoption, differences, animal adaptations

Opening: “One night, as Mother Bat followed the heavy scent of ripe fruit, an owl spied her. On silent wings the powerful bird swooped down upon the bats.

Dodging and shrieking, Mother Bat tried to escape, but the owl struck again and again, knocking Stellaluna into the air.  Her baby wings were as limp and useless as wet paper.

Down, down she went, faster and faster, into the forest below.”

Synopsis:  Knocked from her mother’s safe embrace by an attacking owl, Stellaluna lands headfirst in a bird’s nest. This adorable baby fruit bat’s world is literally turned upside down when she is adopted by the occupants of the nest and adapts to their peculiar bird habits. Two pages of notes at the end of the story provide factual information about bats.

Resources and ideas: Storyline online video of Pamela Reed reading Stellaluna (also featured on SchoolTube); simply type Stellaluna Lesson Plans into Google to find tons of lessons and activities

What I thought: My kids and I loved the sweet story of the lost baby learning how to get along with new siblings who try to understand her but aren’t like her at all. She learns to eat food she doesn’t like and follows the rules of her new home. But as she matures, she discovers how to be herself as well as how to let her bird siblings be themselves. She still visits her bird family after she has found her way back to her bat family. The illustrations show details about the differences between bat bodies and bird bodies. Stellaluna is a beautiful, well-loved book.

I need to add that not everyone appreciates the way Stellaluna is treated by her bird family. I read about more than a few negative reactions from mixed-race families. The mother bird accuses Stellaluna of teaching her bird babies to do bad things, and she agrees to keep Stellaluna only if she will deny her bat instincts. The situation is hard for Stellaluna, gagging down the bugs instead of the fruit she likes, and not being allowed to hang upside down. In a discussion about the story, I would include ideas about how the mother bird could have been more open-minded or might have helped Stellaluna find her bat family. I would definitely talk about how difficult survival can be for animals and how sometimes they have to adapt to circumstances that are less than ideal just to stay alive. I know this book is used as an adoption story, but the animal survival element should be emphasized to balance out what comes across as prejudice from the bird mother. Those are just my thoughts about a book that we really love for its storytelling more than anything else.

What do you think? How has your family discussed Stellaluna? 

Categories: Books we love, Perfect Picture Book Friday | Tags: , , , | 19 Comments

Perfect Picture Book Friday: Cinco the Clinic Cat

Perfect Picture Book Friday is here with Cinco the Clinic Cat/Cinco, el gato de la clínica by Carol Brickell and illustrated by Jim Hastings. Cinco is a bilingual book in English and Spanish, and all the proceeds from the sale of the book are donated to charities that support medical clinics and provide medical supplies to those in need in Latin America. Cinco has received the Moonbeam Children’s Book Award and the Mom’s Choice Award.

Check out Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog feature Perfect Picture Book Fridays. She has compiled a complete list of recommended picture books with links to resources for home and the classroom. It’s awesome!

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Title: Cinco the Clinic Cat/Cinco, el gato de la clínica

Author/Illustrator: Carol Brickell and Jim Hastings

Publisher: Brown Books, 2010

Fiction

Ages:  4 and up

Themes: friendship, helping others

Opening: “I wonder if my wish will come trueAlisa lives in a country called Honduras. When there is no school, Alisa goes with her sister Karen to a clinic in their neighborhood. I’d like to help Karen, but I only get in the way. I wish I had a friend.

Synopsis:  When school is out, Alisa spends each day with her sister, who works in a medical clinic. But Alisa feels alone and out of place. One day, she sees a new face — a stray cat. After five days, they become friends and she names him Cinco. Together, they get involved in the activities at the medical clinic — and make more friends along the way. (from Amazon)

Resources and ideas: video of the author presenting the book to a group of children at the mall; can be used in discussions about geography, culture, Latin America, bilingualism, poverty, friendship, anti-bullying, therapy animals, medical clinics.

What I thought: Cinco is a lovely book that provides a window into the friendships and lives of people around a medical clinic in Honduras. The watercolor illustrations are airy and bright and portray the clinic as a welcoming, open place to visit. The text is spare enough for a small child, and I laughed when the boy who needed glasses said he thought the cat was a dog. Check out my favorite illustration, which shows so well a little kid’s perspective on the world (I remember what that feels like, does anyone else?).

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Check out a video featuring the author talking about the clinic and the book and working with kids (The Advocate magazine page with the video is here).

And here is the story behind the story:

Enjoy, and let me know what you and your kids think!

Categories: Perfect Picture Book Friday, Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Perfect Picture Book Friday: The Day the Crayons Quit

Perfect Picture Book Friday is here with The Day the Crayons Quitthe delightful, laugh-out-loud creation of Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers (it took me an extra few seconds to figure out who the illustrator was because his name is upside-down on the cover). The book is so funny that when I was reading it aloud to my 11-year-old (yes, he is very patient with me … he sat with his new James Dashner book in his lap and listened to me read), my 14-year-old walked into the room and asked why we were laughing about a beige crayon. Then he sat next to me for the rest of the book!

Check out Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog feature Perfect Picture Book Fridays. She has compiled a complete list of recommended picture books with links to resources for home and the classroom. It’s awesome!

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Title: The Day the Crayons Quit

Author/Illustrator: Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers

Publisher: Philomel Books (Penguin), 2013

Fiction

Ages:  3-7 years

Theme: colors, jobs, drawing, creativity, labor relations

Opening: “One day in class, Duncan went to take out his crayons and found a stack of letters with his name on them.

Synopsis: Poor Duncan just wants to color. But when he opens his box of crayons, he finds only letters, all saying the same thing: His crayons have had enough! They quit! Beige Crayon is tired of playing second fiddle to Brown Crayon. Black wants to be used for more than just outlining. Blue needs a break from coloring all those bodies of water. And Orange and Yellow are no longer speaking—each believes he is the true color of the sun. What can Duncan possibly do to appease all of the crayons and get them back to doing what they do best? (from Amazon)

Resources and ideas: Literature response; writing; classroom use ideas; discussions could be generated about science (ROY G BIV, visible and invisible parts of sunlight), animals, seasons (colors change, snow happens, etc.), labor law and fairness, compromise, friendship, self-esteem or self-acceptance

What I thought: We loved this clever book. All the colors have different personalities and different problems being the color they are. I tried to choose a favorite spread to share with you, but I couldn’t do it. I just ended up reading the book again, and then again. Just for fun, here is the gray spread.

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Check out an informative interview with Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers at the blog Omnivoracious!

Enjoy, and let me know what you and your kids think!

Categories: Books we love, Perfect Picture Book Friday | Tags: , , , , | 17 Comments

Perfect Picture Book Friday: The Greatest Skating Race

I love this book!

It’s Perfect Picture Book Friday again, after taking last week off. The Greatest Skating Race is a book I have read to my kids and recommended to friends many times. It is a wartime adventure story told from the point of view of a very brave boy.

Check out Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog feature Perfect Picture Book Fridays. She has compiled a complete list of recommended picture books with links to resources for home and the classroom. It’s awesome!

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Title: The Greatest Skating Race: A World War II Story from the Netherlands

Author/Illustrator: Louise Borden and Niki Daly

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books (Simon & Schuster), 2004

Fiction

Ages: 8-12 years

Theme: World War II, bravery, skating, races, Europe, helping others

Opening: “In December of 1941 I was ten years old . . . and at that time what I cared about most was skating on the frozen canals of Sluis, the town where we lived.

Synopsis: In 1941 Piet, a young Dutch boy from Sluis, gets the assignment of a lifetime: he must skate along the frozen canals of the Netherlands and across the Belgian border to guide two Jewish children to their aunt’s house in Brugge, where the children will remain for the duration of World War II. Their father has been taken by German soldiers, and the children are no longer safe in Sluis — but the journey with Piet, past soldiers and enemies, is fraught with danger.
Along the treacherous path to Belgium the three children skate using every bit of speed, courage, and strength they can muster. All the time they try to appear like innocent schoolchildren simply out for a skate, for if the German soldiers discover their escape plan, the children will be in grave trouble. During the journey Piet thinks about his hero, Pim Mulier — the first person to ever skate the Elfstedentocht, the famous and prestigious Eleven Towns Race that takes place in his country. For years Piet has dreamed of proving that he is a skater as brave and strong as Pim Mulier — but he had never imagined that his test would fall under such dangerous circumstances. (adapted from the jacket flap)

Resources and ideas: PDF with lesson ideas; this book lends itself to most subjects: geography (Europe), history (World War II), math (metric conversions), science (properties of water, weather history), commerce/business, culture, anti-semitism

Review from School Library Journal: Starred Review. Grade 2-5–This slice of historical fiction celebrates the bravery and resourcefulness of children. In the winter of 1941, 10-year-old Piet, a strong skater, is enlisted to lead his two young neighbors from Holland to safety over the ice to relatives in Belgium after their father is arrested for sending messages to the allied forces. The three children leave their home in Sluis and bravely skate 16 kilometers on the canals to Brugge. They outwit and hide from German soldiers and make it to their destination in one long, difficult day. Told with immediacy and suspense from Piet’s point of view, the engaging narrative is arranged in columns, which is an ideal structure to relate the action in short sentences. Readers learn about the Elfstedentocht, a 200-kilometer skating race, and the boy’s hero, skater Pim Mulier. The gorgeously detailed watercolor illustrations capture a sense of the time. The subdued, winter hues of brown and smoky gray are those often found in the oil paintings of Dutch and Flemish masters and match the quiet tone of the text. The book’s format maximizes the drama and expanse of the landscape. Use this picture book to introduce curricular units and to give youngsters a vivid child’s-eye view of the past.–Shawn Brommer, South Central Library System, Madison, WI  (Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.)

What I thought: I was fascinated by the story told in this book. It brings a part of Europe and its history alive. There are innumerable details that bring tremendous realism to the storytelling, with great expression added by the illustrations that show skating postures, worried faces, and historically accurate clothing and skates. I love this one with the tall, graceful grandfather.

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from page 21

The book could be shortened a little by skipping over some of the main character Piet’s fantasizing about the Elfstedentocht, if a younger child has trouble getting through the entire text. A highly meaningful adventure!

Check out an informative interview with Louis Borden at the blog Randomly Reading!

Enjoy, and let me know what you and your kids think!

Categories: Books we love, Perfect Picture Book Friday | 16 Comments

Perfect Picture Book Friday! Tara Lazar’s The Monstore

It’s Perfect Picture Book Friday, and Halloween is almost here! Here is a book I grabbed off the shelf because I’d seen a ton of great reviews and because the cover is adorable. And because I follow Tara’s wonderful blog. It’s The Monstoreby Tara Lazar and illustrated by James Burks!

Check out Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog feature Perfect Picture Book Fridays. She has compiled a complete list with links to resources for home and the classroom. It’s awesome!

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Title: The Monstore

Author/Illustrator: Tara Lazar and James Burks

Publisher: Aladdin Books (Simon & Schuster), 2013

Fiction

Ages: 4-7 years

Theme: Sibling rivalry, commerce, fantasy, monsters

Opening:At the back of Frankensweet’s Candy Shoppe, under the last box of sour gumballs, there’s a trapdoor. Knock five times fast, hand over the bag of squirmy worms, and you can crawl inside The Monstore..”

Synopsis: The Monstore is the place to go for all of your monsterly needs. Which is perfect, since Zack definitely has a monsterly need. The problem? His pesky little sister, Gracie, who never pays attention to that “Keep Out” sign on Zack’s door—the one he has made especially for her. But when Zack’s monsters don’t exactly work as planned, he soon finds out that the Monstore has a few rules: No Refunds. No exchanges. No exceptions. (from Goodreads)

Resources and ideas: Reading and writing activites

What I thought: I enjoyed the whole monster store concept and the wonderful illustrations with such a variety of expressions on the monsters’ faces. They are just like little kids!

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There is some really delightful word play and a great twist at the end. My son said he would definitely read it to his kids!

Here is the brilliant Mira Reisberg’s video discussion, for those of us who would like to create such a wonderful book:

Enjoy, and let me know what you and your kids think!

Categories: Books we love, Perfect Picture Book Friday, Reviews | 13 Comments

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