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Forever or a Day by Sarah Jacoby

Moving... fast or slow, noticed or unnoticed, cherished or overlooked.
That is the theme of this lovely book.

Many times when I am trying to get through a stack of books, especially picture books that can be read quickly, I note possible educational value, artistic prowess, plot or character development, blah, blah, blah.... education stuff (my thing). But every once in awhile a picture book will force me to stop and take notice. It will slow time.

Forever or a Day is a beautiful look at how time can be both fast (when we are younger or in a hurry) or slow (when we want to get somewhere or when we are older). It's told in a simple manner, light on words, heavy on meaning. My favorite kind of writing.

For teaching purposes, it is quite complex. This is a book best read to a small group or individual child. I would find reading this book to an entire class a bit difficult. Developmentally some students would need more discussion and time and some students would want more discussion and time.
It could be used as part of a unit on family, but I rather think I'd like to use it for teaching character perspective. Although the narrator is omniscient, according to how they perceive time, various characters are perceiving it differently. This is especially interesting because time is referred to as "it." I would want to discuss the concept of time as a character.
(CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.3 Analyze how and why individuals, events, or ideas develop and interact over the course of a text)

That being said, it would also make an excellent picture book starter for older students when teaching not only character perspective and/or plot cadence.
(CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.4.3.B Use dialogue and description to develop experiences and events or show the responses of characters to situations /   CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.4.3.A Orient the reader by establishing a situation and introducing a narrator and/or characters; organize an event sequence that unfolds naturally)

I'm sure there's additionally something in there for the math teacher who wants to move past just teaching students how to tell time, but to comprehend the concept of time.

Genre: Realistic Fiction (with a poetic narrative)
Age: The publisher lists this book as for 2-5 year old children. I'd argue with that.... closer to 3-6, not many 2 year olds will get this and some 8 & 9 year olds could really benefit from thinking about the concept of time in both their reading and writing skill.
Pages: 40

Themes: The passage of time, the importance of moments, family

Character Development: Interesting to examine how each of the characters view time (parents, child, grands, rushing workers, etc...), especially the "character" of it.

Plot Engagement: Time is the plot and a character, what a treat for a writing teacher!

Originality: Unique in both concept and beauty

Awards: I'm sure they are coming. I don't put that *Highest Recommendation tag on many, folks.
I am always at a loss to discuss beautiful artwork (other than to know enough to say that it is comparatively a stand-out amongst artists). I guess my one undergrad class in art history wasn't enough. I'm betting that the Caldecott folks know this one is a stand-out in lingo I lack.

Thank You to Chronicle Books & publicist Lara Starr who continue to send me lovely things to share with children and teachers!
Release Date: March 2018
ISBN: 978-1452164632
Buy Forever or a Day HERE

You can download some pretty posters and get a perpetual calendar at the publisher's site HERE

You can read more about the author/illustrator, Sarah Jacoby, HERE

-------------------- That's all folks! --------------------
 © 2007-2018 Dr. Cheryl Vanatti, education & reading specialist writing at www.ReadingRumpus.com

This is a Taco by Andrew Cangelose with illustrations by Josh Shipley

My Two Cents: This Is a Taco! is a humorous book in the same vein as Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein. Squirrel protagonist Taco blurs the fourth wall by talking directly to the readers from the book's start. But in order to save himself from being eaten, Taco completely breaks the fourth wall - taking over the writing himself. In doing this, he saves his own life and brings home a subtle "we are the masters of our own destiny" theme. One of my greatest writing pet-peeves is when an author tries to "teach" children a lesson, moral or theme in a didactic manner. This Is a Taco! does an excellent job of mixing humor, fact, and messaging without a trace of condescension. While we learn a few facts about squirrels before Taco takes over the writing, the real treat is Taco's 'take charge' attitude. The illustrations by Josh Shipley are both fun and complementary to Taco's humor-filled antics.

Teaching ideas:
 CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.1.5 Explain major differences between books that tell stories and books that give information, drawing on a wide reading of a range of text types: Here, teachers can use typical animal nonfiction books, along with the factual pages from This Is a Taco! to examine the differences between factual text and non (Taco telling the story, squirrels don't really talk, etc...). Take a minute to look at when this book is giving facts vs. when it is telling a story. 

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.1.6 Identify who is telling the story at various points in a text / CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.3.6 Distinguish their own point of view from that of the narrator or those of the characters.: The fact that the writer & Taco both take turns 'telling' the story provides an excellent opportunity to delineate both author's point of view & purpose against Taco's. 

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.2.3 Describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges: Taco has personality (told there would be tacos, not tree bark) from the very beginning, take some time to examine his traits and how those assist him in responding to the author's story and why he is uniquely styled to take over his story

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.3.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, distinguishing literal from nonliteral language: Taco changes the wording and doesn't get exactly what he intended... Word Precision & Editing could be used as a picture book launcher for practicing word precision 

Publisher's Synopsis: This is a squirrel . . . "Hey, I may be a squirrel, but my name is Taco! And I don't eat nuts and tree bark—blech—I prefer tacos!" The natural predator of squirrels is . . . "Whoa, whoa, whoa! Who is writing this book? I do not like where this is going." This hilarious send-up of a children's nature primer teaches kids that the most important story is the one you write yourself.
Genre: Picture Book, Humor
Grades 1 - 3 (Pre-K & K can enjoy, but literary standards are closer to 2 -3)
Pages: 32
Themes: Take Charge, Write Your Own Story, Persistence
Character Development: All about our protagonist & hero: Taco
Plot Engagement: Begins as a standard "this is a" nature examination and turns into something quite different
Originality: Although it is becoming more common in children's books to have the protagonist address the audience in some way, the mixture of Taco's personality, squirrel facts and the popularity of tacos (the food) make this title rather unique.
Believability: Humor allows for our suspension of disbelief, even when the giant taco shows up due to Taco's poor word choices.
Thank You to publisher Lion Forge for my digital copy on NetGalley.
Date: Available May 1, 2018 ( you can get it on April 18th at comic stores)
ISBN: 978-1941302729
You can buy This Is a Taco! HERE

-------------------- That's all folks! --------------------
 © 2007-2018 Dr. Cheryl Vanatti, education & reading specialist writing at www.ReadingRumpus.com 

Fox & Chick: The Party and other stories by Sergio Ruzzier

My two cents: At the root of Fox & Chick: The Party and Other Stories lies the story of friendship & acceptance. The main characters couldn't be more different. Fox is calm and rational; Chick is a bit of a wild bird. I don't know if it's the soft watercolors or the unlikely friendship, but I found myself comparing Fox & Chick: The Party and Other Stories to the classic Frog and Toad are Friends Series by Arnold Lobel (a rather large complement, but deserved in my humble opinion).   

Fox & Chick: The Party and Other Stories consists of three comic-panel style short stories. The cartoon panels also include a few wordless panels that extend the story through artistic implication. Although this is an early reader, ample opportunities for vocabulary expansion and story discussion are built as much on what is said between the characters as what not is said (that acceptance part).  There are also many instances of humor and excellent opportunities for teaching ELA standards (especially key ideas & details, along with craft & structure). I had written some ideas down quickly as I read: good for beginning inference making using details to support, good for determining central message, great for character traits and comparisons - both is physical attributes & point of view of each character, how author choice of words suggest feelings, etc.... But then, as I was writing this, I happened upon a FABULOUS teacher guide provided by the publisher. It includes almost all of the standards I had considered during my reading. Teachers & parents: grab it HERE.  This title has my recommendation for elementary purchase, especially classroom copies to use in specific standards-based instruction (multiple copies warranted purchase). It not only hits multiple literary standards, it also has strong engagement factors (cartoon-panel telling, character development, age-appropriate plot). 

Publisher's Blurb: "Fox and Chick don't always agree. But Fox and Chick are always friends. With sly humor and companionable warmth, Sergio Ruzzier deftly captures the adventures of these two seemingly opposite friends. The luminous watercolor images showcased in comic-book panel form will entice emerging readers, while the spare text and airiness of the images make this early chapter book accessible to a picture book audience as well." 
Genre: Animal Tales
Age: 5-8 / Early Readers
Lexile: 360L
Pages: 56
Themes: Friendship, Acceptance
Character Development: Very strong, great for discussing character traits 
Plot Engagement: Just enough to use for discussion without overwhelming or underwhelming  
Thank You to publisher Chronicle Books for my copy 
Date Available: April 17, 2018 
ISBN 9781452152882
Teacher Guide from the publisher: HERE

Here is an example of the cartoon-panel style:

Author & Illustrator Sergio Ruzzier has written some other really cool books you might have heard of...

 maybe this one?    how about this one? 

If you would like to learn more about him, pop over to his website: HERE
Or, find him on Twitter at @SergioRuzzier

-------------------- That's all folks! --------------------
© 2007-2018  Dr. Cheryl Vanatti, education & reading specialist writing at www.ReadingRumpus.com

Howl Like A Wolf by Kathleen Yale - book review

There are many times when I pick up a book with high expectations, either because of buzz surrounding it or because I already love the author. This can be a good thing (One & Only Ivan - author expectation) or sometimes a let-down (Wonder - overkill buzz). I had yet to read or hear a word about Howl Like A Wolf by Kathleen Yale when I picked it up; I had zero expectations and was in a big hurry to get out the door on vacation. Lucky me, I ended up dragging it along on vacation, imagining all the ways that teachers and/or parents can use the excellent nonfiction treat of  information and dramatic play all rolled into one!

Howl Like A Wolf is a book that will be well-worn, loved and studied by animal-loving children who want to join in the action with their animal kingdom pals.

Kids get a chance to not only read and learn about 15 amazing animals, but to imagine what it feels like to BE that animal. Each animal has unique features to consider and the author adds reflective questions that guide children towards better understanding and connection to each animal's feelings. The comparative traits side bars further assist children in connecting the animal kingdom, as well as making connections to their own world. This base of not only knowledge of, but compassion for, animals, adds a foundation that can be further expanded with scientific knowledge on comparison topics like adaptation. Further, this book offers interdisciplinary opportunities in science, physical education and drama (along with literacy skills, of course!).

Oh, how I have my fingers crossed for a follow up book with even more animals!

Publisher’s Blurb:
“What does it feel like to “see” with your ears like a bat or go through a full body transformation like a frog? Can you wriggle in and out of tight places like an octopus, camouflage yourself like a leopard, or do a waggle dance like a honeybee? This creative and beautifully illustrated interactive guide makes learning about animals fun for children ages 6 and up. Fifteen animals explain their amazing feats and invite kids to enter their world by mimicking their behavior — an imaginative approach to learning that fosters curiosity, empathy, and dramatic play."

Here are a couple example pages:

 Look at the amazing masks to accompany the book:
 Free to download here 

Here are some activities, posters, etc... from the publisher:
Free to download here

A word about the illustrations: In that I am a reading specialist, I pay less attention to illustrations and make no claim to any artistic expertise. However, I am greatly aware that with illustrated children’s literature, the artistic renderings can make or break a child’s interest in a book. Howl like A Wolf’s illustrator Kaley McKean’s renderings are a perfect match for the playful nature of the book, both striking and vivid as well as subtle. They remind me of one of my favorite paper lines: Rifle Paper Company. The book is an excellent blend of colors and shapes that enhance the mood/tone. If you'd like to know more about the illustrator, Kaley McKean, you can check out here website: HERE.

For more on author Kathleen Yale, pop over to her website: HERE.

Genre: Nonfiction
Age: LOTS! Pre-K to 10
Pages: 80
ISBN: 9781612129051
Thank You to Storey Publishing for my advanced copy!

-------------------- That's all folks! --------------------

 © 2007-2018 Cheryl Vanatti for www.ReadingRumpus.com

Murray the Race Horse (Fables from the Stables Series) by Gavin Puckett

My two cents:
Murray the Race Horse: Fables from the Stables begins a great little series about horses, a topic many kids love. The Fables from the Stables series is aimed at children ready to leave picture books behind and wade into easy chapter books. All of the stories in the series are told in quick rhyme (similar to a limerick pattern) which adds to the humor and interest of the tale. Although I investigated the other titles in the series, I only fully read Murray the Race Horse, which contains many subject-specific vocabulary words as well as a nice blend of age specific vocabulary. I suspect this is probably true of the entire series. The story was fun, quick, and engaging. I think it would be a strong choice for reluctant readers in 3rd or 4th grade also. Definitely a good addition to an underrepresented section of children's literature (early reader chapter books). Recommended for grades 1-3 classrooms and elementary library purchase.

 From the publisher:
"Hilarious underdog story (about a horse) named Murray. Murray the horse dreams of winning big races just like the rest of his family, but he has one problem - he's just not that fast! When horse Ned Plumb twists his ankle at the start line, his jockey spots Murray in the crowd and says, "Fancy a race?" Murray finally gets his chance to shine and beat the neigh-sayers with a rather unusual race technique... Written in verse, the accessible writing in Murray the Race Horse will charm boys and girls age 7-11 (and horse-lovers of all ages), and is complemented by Tor Freeman's hilarious illustrations, and has a great message about believing in yourself and following your dreams. This series is a great step up from picture books - for readers who want to build their confidence, but are not quite ready for chapter books."

Here are a couple example pages for you:

Genre: Humor, Animal Stories
Age: 7-9
Lexile 840L
Pages: 80
Themes: Originality, Trying Hard, Positive Attitude
Character Development: Main character learns that being different is an asset
Plot Engagement: Humor & rhyme keep the pace moving even as the story slows a bit in descriptions
Originality: Rhyming horse series..... hmmmm... can't think of another.
Believability: Silliness lets one know these "true" horse tales are full of bull ;-)
Thank You: LibraryThing Early Reviewers & Publisher Faber & Faber
Date: On sale in US May 15, 2018
ISBN: 978-0571334681

Other books in the series include:    and    

Or, buy Murray's story here   

You can read more about author Gavin Puckett by clicking HERE
or by following @GavPuck on Twitter

-------------------- That's all folks! --------------------

 © 2007-2018 Cheryl Vanatti for www.ReadingRumpus.com

Hello Hello by Brendan Wenzel


In his follow-up to They All Saw a Cat, Brendan Wenzel has created another picture book winner with Hello Hello. Filled with bright, moving creatures, Hello Hello invites readers to experience the joy of getting to know some endangered or threatened creatures by simply saying "Hello" to them. The end pages include an author's note and a listing of each creature's name (insects, mammals, fish, reptiles, ...) along with it's current threatened status.

They All Saw a Cat was definitely one of my favorite 2016 books and I fairly certain that Hello Hellois going to make my top ten for 2018! It is an excellent book for young vocabulary development (ages 3-5) and can be used with older children (5-7) to discuss endangerment status vocabulary, as well as accompany discussions on unique animal species/types.

Publisher's Blurb: "A new picture book from Brendan Wenzel, the New York Times bestselling and Caldecott Honor-winning author of They All Saw a Cat! Hello, Hello! Beginning with two cats, one black and one white, a chain of animals appears before the reader, linked together by at least one common trait. From simple colors and shapes to more complex and abstract associations, each unexpected encounter celebrates the magnificent diversity of our world—and ultimately paints a story of connection. Brendan Wenzel's joyous, rhythmic text and exuberant art encourage readers to delight in nature's infinite differences and to look for—and marvel at—its gorgeous similarities. It all starts with a simple "Hello." The book includes: • An afterword from author Brendan Wenzel about the importance of conservation and protecting the wildlife on our planet. • A glossary of the animals featured in the book and a notation on their status (Near Threatened, Vulnerable, Endangered, or Critically Endangered)."

Genre: Picture Book
Age: Pre-K to First Grade
Pages: 52
Themes: Appreciation for our fellow planet dwellers & Excellent for young children as read aloud vocabulary development

Thank You to Chronicle Books for continuing our relationship whilst I finished a doctorate and didn't blog as much. Promise: I was still singing your praises every chance I got!
On Twitter @ChronicleKids

Date: March 20, 2018
ISBN: 978-1452150147
Buy Hello Hello HERE 

Author: Brendan Wenzel is a New York Times bestselling author and illustrator based in upstate New York. An ardent conservationist, he is a proud collaborator with many organizations working to ensure the future of wild places and threatened species. His debut picture book, THEY ALL SAW A CAT, was the recipient of a Caldecott Honor Award.
You can learn more about author Brendan Wenzel by clicking in his website  > HERE
Follow him on Twitter @BRENDAN_WENZEL

While I am finally here, and because I neglected to blog about it.... If you don't already have They All Saw a Cat, you should buy them both! It was my pick for the 2017 Caldecott, but happy it at least got an honor nod.

-------------------- That's all folks! --------------------

© 2007-2018 Cheryl Vanatti for www.ReadingRumpus.com

New Roads

So.... I took a bit of time off from this little book blog. I didn't intend for it to be so long, but what with a never-ending mountain of doctoral  reading/writing and a year working as a library media specialist, time just slipped away. This morning I start a new journey, one that I hope will offer me more time for a love of books: elementary reading specialist. Ironic that being a library media specialist left me no time for books. 

       Like all change, it's scary. I haven't stepped an instructional toe inside an elementary school since 2005; and the change happens just as I begin my doctoral research, confusing my research angle. But... I am also exceptionally excited about the new school year as I walk away from a disastrous one. 

       When I earned the media specialist certification in 1999, I dreamed of one day working as a 'librarian.' I have always held the utmost respect for the job and can now, having done a year in the modern 'media specialist' gig, truly say that it is a very big job caught in a socially morphing world. I wish my year had gone differently, but schools, like all human-inhabited spaces, are political and I was not a member of the ruling party. In truth, I cannot yet ascertain whether it was the job of library media specialist or the environment. I do know that I missed instructional coaching and I missed being a reading specialist....

But, I digress... I wanted to come here to thank the publishers who have kept sending me books and the authors who have reached out to me. Thank you. Your stacks of wonder line my home office and I have not forgotten the joy of books and reading. I choose happiness and positivity and I will get your wonders posted out to the internets real soon, promise. 

-------------------- That's all folks! --------------------
 © 2007-2018 Cheryl Vanatti for www.ReadingRumpus.com

Touch the Brightest Star by Christie Matheson

Thank you to @christiemath @GreenwillowBook for my review copy

My two cents: Touch the Brightest Star is a lovely picture book for both pre-readers and beginning readers. Told in flowing cadence and rhyme, it tells the story of day's end turning to night and then ends with the closing of eyes to darkness, only to open again to morning. This is a great vehicle for foreshadowing and inference (what happened while the eyes were closed?). Because the vocabulary is limited, and there are numerous spelling repetitions due to the rhyme scheme, it also makes a good book for beginning readers (though the topic might be a bit young, the idea that they can actually read the words usually supersedes that!). Information on various creatures and objects of the night is given on the last page, making for further discussion and future investigations.

The most unique thing about this book, aside from the great writing, is the use of terminology usually reserved for digital reading. The author invites young readers to "swipe" and "tap" various scenes of serene watercolor-like mixed-media illustrations on big bold pages of blue and darkening sky. The change in the shadowing of the apple tree lends further discussion opportunities. I think this one is definitely a Caldecott contender!

This is a truly stellar learning tool and should be purchased for all pre-school and kindergarten libraries.

Publisher's Synopsis: "A companion to the popular and acclaimed Tap the Magic Tree! In this interactive bedtime story, touch, tap, blink, whisper, and more to make magic happen in the nighttime sky, from sunset to sunrise.
What happens while you're sleeping? With lush, beautiful watercolors and cut-paper collage, Christie Matheson reveals the magic of the nighttime sky, using the same kinds of toddler-perfect interactive elements as her acclaimed Tap the Magic Tree. Wave good-bye to the sun, gently press the firefly, make a wish on a star, rub the owls on their heads, and . . . shhhh. No two readings of this book will be the same. That along with the gentle, soothing rhythm, makesTouch the Brightest Star a bedtime winner—no matter how many times you and your child read it."

Genre: Picture Book
Age: 4-8 years
Pages: 40
Themes: Day turning to night turning to day, creatures & objects of the night
Thank You to publisher: Greenwillow Books
Date: May 2015
ISBN: 978-0062274472
BUY Touch the Brightest Star HERE

-------------------- That's all folks! --------------------
 © 2007-2018 Cheryl Vanatti for www.ReadingRumpus.com
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