Serendipity Saturday

Wonderful article at on E.B. White and how his love of animals influenced his writing. HERE

 Books I want to read ASAP:

What's In Your Purse? by Abigail Samoun with illustrations by Nathalie Dion - Book Review

Publisher's Synopsis: "From compacts to wallets, passports to planners, and cell phones to sunglasses, mommy, grandma, auntie, and sister’s pocketbooks have to carry it all. Featuring a snap closure and a portable handle, this novelty book collects five purses in one and allows young readers to lift the flaps and peek inside to find the tote-ally terrific treasures each woman carries—it’s the perfect accessory for budding fashionistas!"

My Thoughts: What's in Your Purse?  is a cute concept. Not my area of expertise, but I remember my own daughter's fascination with my purse and think this would have been a hit thirty years ago. The leading questions ask the reader to make inferences about why each object is in character's purse. Adults could expand upon these toward fantastic inferential conversations (evidence-based text for the preschool set = Common Core thought processes) where the child would have to use the objects to expound further. To top it off, the little carry handle will make this a totable favorite.

At The Same Moment Around The World by Clotilde Perrin - Book Review

Publisher's Synopsis: "Discover Benedict drinking hot chocolate in Paris, France; Mitko chasing the school bus in Sofia, Bulgaria; and Khanh having a little nap in Hanoi, Vietnam! Clotilde Perrin takes readers eastward from the Greenwich meridian, from day to night, with each page portraying one of (the original) 24 time zones. Strong back matter empowers readers to learn about the history of timekeeping and time zones, and to explore where each of the characters lives on the world map. A distinctive educational tool, this picture book’s warm, unique illustrations also make it a joy to read aloud and admire."

My Thoughts: Some picture books are educational. They serve a purpose, but they aren't meant to illicit an emotional response. Some picture books shoot for the Caldecott, all lush with artistic wonder. Occasionally we get a stellar mix. At the Same Moment, Around the World is a lesson in the interconnectedness of the citizens of Earth and it does so in the finest of form. Each little vignette, moving east from the Greenwich Meridian, tells us about a singular moment in one life. And while the little snapshots give us the telling, it is the gorgeous night turning toward day turning toward night illustrations that add the depth.  The tall, lean size allows the art to soar, with tall buildings, trees, mountains, and kites. This is one of the finest picture books I have seen in awhile. Too bad it's from a French author as it would have been a strong Caldecott contender.

Recommended for both elementary classroom & library purchase. In fact, I would probably buy it for middle school classrooms also as the concept of time zones is still one worth investigating in 6th grade social science.

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Genre: Realistic Fiction
Age: 5-8
Pages: 36
Themes: Interconnectivity of the world, Time Zones
Thank You to Chronicle Books for my advanced copy.
Publisher: Chronicle Books; Fol Har/Ma edition
Date: March 2014
ISBN: 978-1452122083
BUY At the Same Moment, Around the World HERE

Lesson ideas:
  • The book includes a an explanation of time zones and a world map depicting where each child's story occurs. I can't imagine teaching about time zones without this book! In fact, I'm not certain that a portion of older students might enjoy this book also....
  • The BBC has a site devoted to explaining time zones HERE
  • Cute little quiz on time zones HERE (made more fun by the British accents :-)
  • Author interview over at
  • Add science! Make a water clock HERE,  Make a sundial HERE,  
  • Investigate various webcams around the world HERE  (all three found via The Canadian Homeschooler). Maybe use the webcam to make up narratives about the people you see?
  • World time zone map HERE

About the author: Clotilde Perrin is a French children's book writer & illustrator with MANY books to her credit. Once I saw all of her gorgeous collection, I put her straight on my list of 'books to find!" You can read more about her (good old Google Chrome  will translate) on her website.

-------------------- That's all folks! --------------------
 © 2007-2014 Cheryl Vanatti for

I Didn't Do My Homework Because... by Davide Cali with illustrations by Benjamin Chaud- Book Review

Publisher's synopsis: "How many excuses are there for not doing homework? Let us count the ways: Giant lizards invaded the neighborhood. Elves hid all the pencils. And then there was that problem with carnivorous plants.... The excuses go on and on, each more absurd than the next and escalating to hilarious heights. Featuring detail-rich illustrations by Benjamin Chaud, this book is guaranteed to amuse kids and their parents, not to mention anyone who has experienced a slacker student moment—and isn’t that everyone?"

My thoughts: I Didn't Do My Homework Because... is engaging in that the humor creates an expanding effect that makes one want to read to the end to see what the teacher will do with the boy. To some degree, I felt like it became repetitive, almost expected, which caused some fatigue in the telling. What really makes this little book shine, and breaks the repetition, is the illustrations.

Upon first look, I Didn't Do My Homework Because...  reminded me of Maurice Sendak with similar styled illustrations and a small, non-standard size. Not bad company to be in! The exaggerated illustrations with disproportionate characters and a page-filled exuberance offsets the repetitive story.

For educators & parents, this book is filled with great vocabulary and possible offshoot investigations on things like Robin Hood & Vikings. Recommended for both elementary classroom & library purchase.

Genre: Picture Book, Humor
Age: 6-9
Pages: 44
Themes: Exaggeration, Making excuses, Not pulling the wool over a teacher's eyes
Thank You to Chronicle Books for my advanced copy. It has been donated to a classroom in Orange Co. Florida
Publisher: Chronicle
Date: March 2014
ISBN: 978-1452125510
BUY I Didn't Do My Homework Because... HERE

-------------------- That's all folks! --------------------
 © 2007-2014 Cheryl Vanatti for

The Ascendance Trilogy by Jennifer Nielson concludes with The Shadow Throne

The final installment of the The Ascendance Trilogy comes to a thrilling conclusion every bit as suspenseful and enthralling as the first. King Jaron begins as an orphan boy in The False Prince and matures to the great king he was destined to be in the final installment, The Shadow Throne. Although this trilogy reads like a fantasy, it is really a mixture of suspense and adventure. Nielsen is skilled at plot twists and character development providing readers with motivation to continue and investment in beloved characters. I have written about the first two books here as I'm quite the fan, but this conclusion seals my highest recommendation (not given lightly around Reading Rumpus).

This series is male/female friendly with strong characters all around. It's also a good choice for reluctant readers as the action is swift and super engaging. Filled with humor, romance and lots of adventure, MANY students will enjoy this series.

A bunch of books that I want. Just sayin'

Sparky by Jenny Offill with illustrations by Chris Appelhans
Publishers synopsis: "Sparky stars a pet who has more to offer than meets the eye. When our narrator orders a sloth through the mail, the creature that arrives isn't good at tricks or hide-and-seek . . . or much of anything. Still, there's something about Sparky that is irresistible."
My thoughts:  Love the 'retro' look of the illustrations, think it sounds funny :-)
Available March 11, 2014 / 40 pages /Picture Book / ISBN: 978-0-375-87023-1