Saturday, November 16, 2013

Nonfiction Review 6-Balloons over Broadway-Melissa Sweet

balloons over broadway 300x247 Pick of the Day: Balloons Over Broadway: The Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade (Audiobook) 

Sweet, Melissa . Balloons Over Broadway: The Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade. Ill. Melissa Sweet   Boston, MA : Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2011.
Age Range: 6-9   Lexile: 835

 2012 Sibert Medal

 2012 Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children. 

 2. Summary

Every Thanksgiving, before the feasting on turkey and the trimmings, people of all ages wake up
to watch Macy's annual three hour parade of balloons, Broadway shows, and the big man himself, Santa Claus. But how did all begin? In Balloons over Broadway,  learn about Tony Sarag, and how his  famous balloons help to create an American tradition.

3. My Review
This is a really great book, especially because  gives us a  different  look at Thanksgiving ( besides turkeys, pilgrims, and giving thanks.) What really surprised me was that the parade was created for their employees, particularly the immigrants unable to return home for the holidays (and that originally there were LIVE animals before Sarag, which the author playfully tells us "rhymes with aargh", created the upside-down marionettes.)

The most appealing aspect of Balloons is the artwork.  Sweet uses  uses colorful watercolor paintings, unique typography, mixed media collage and 3-D puppets based on Sarag's creations to bring the story to life. News clippings and additional information on Sarag ( including actual photos) also add to the book.
Sarag's AHA moment, as seen through the illustrations of Melissa Sweet.

Sarag and one of  his creations.

Whether you've seen the parade once or a million times, Balloons over Broadway  is a must read for one and all. I hope everyone has a happy Thanksgiving.
By the way, Sweet designed the poster for the 2011 parade .
One of the many puppets you can create using the online activity kit ( see link here).

  4. Classroom Connections
  • The book has an online  activity kit, featuring masks and puppets based on Sweet's illustrations. Check it out (and one of the examples above).
  • What would like to see in the Macy's Thanksgiving parade? Have children create their own floats, balloons, balloonicles( float/ balloon combos) using crayons, construction paper, whatever you have on hand.
  • Watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade on Thursday, November 28 at 9am on NBC. Or look for past clips on Youtube.
  • Have children write or draw what they are most thankful for.
5. Websites, Books and Keyword Ideas

 Here are two ideal websites related to the book-

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade-  The parade's offical website. Features the history of the parade, games, merchaise, and this year's entertainment line-up ( which includes Jimmy Fallon and the Roots,  Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and the men of Duck Dynasty.)

Melissa Sweet- Author's official website, featuring all her books, games, and more.

Looking for  books on the Thanksgiving holiday? Here are some recommendations-

  •  Bleier, Edward. The Thanksgiving Ceremony: New Traditions for America's Family Feast. New York, N.Y. : Crown Publishers, c2003.
  • Crane,Carol. P is for Pilgrim: A Thanksgiving Alphabet. Chelsea, Mich. : Sleeping Bear Press c2003. 
  • Heiligman, Deborah. Celebrate Thanksgiving.  Washington, D.C. : National Geographic, c2006.
  • Mercer, Abbie. Happy Thanksgiving.  New York : PowerKids Press, 2007. 
  • Waters, Kate. Giving Thanks: the 1621 Harvest Feast.New York : Scholastic Press, 2001. 
For  famous puppeteers, most of what I found is about Jim Henson ( creator of the Muppets). One book that is really good  is Jim Henson: the Guy who Played with Puppets by Kathleen Krull  and illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher ( published in New York  by Random House Children's Books in 2011.)

Looking for more books on Thanksgiving? Here are some keywords to use in your library catalog:

Thanksgiving Day
Thanksgiving Day-Juvenile literature
Thanksgiving Day-History-Juvenile literature

Again, Happy Thanksgiving and thanks to all that read this blog!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Nonfiction Review 5-Look What Came from Germany- Kevin Davis


Davis, Kevin. Look What Came from Germay.   New York : F. Watts, 1999.
Age Range: 7-8 Lexile: 880

 2. Summary

What do the automobile, cologne, and fairy tales have in common? They all come from Germany. So do hamburgers, Groundhog day, and many other things.

3. My Review
  I'm part German and  last week we has a free music program featuring German music, so I was inspired to go and a German-related book. I think this is very informative book and would make a good read aloud ( and would especially want to hear the kids go " I didn't know that came from Germany." I know I'm surprised that birthdays originate from a holiday called Kinderfest, and that even blowing out candles is a German tradition. ) I  also like the amount of pictures used to tell each item featured, plus the resources, craft idea ( which is printing with paint and uncooked food items like potatoes) and German words to learn at the end.Again, this would be a perfect book, especially for a unit on Germany

Overall, a very enjoyable treat. As they say in German, auf Wiedershen (goodbye)!

 4. Classroom Connections

  •  Like the book, have children research where food, customs, and other things come from.
  • Have a Culture Day and let children wear something related to their culture or bring in a culture-related food item.
  • Learn about Grimm fairy tales or other fairy tales from Germany.
  • Study famous persons and events of Germany. Ex- Albert Einstein, Berlin Wall, WW II.
  • Have an Oktoberfest with apple cider, prezels, and German music.
  • Teach Scherenschnitte ( the German art of paper-cutting). Here is a small video.( Note- this might be better do with older kids because of the time needed and the tools).

 5.  Website to Check out

 Germany for Kids
Created by the German Information Center in Washington the website depicts the everyday life of a regular German boy - find information on everything from food to music to German celebrities and download a " Get To Know Germany" coloring book.

Interesting German Facts for Kids

Basic facts and information on Germany, including a map and attraction ideas for kids.

Germany: Time for Kids

Sponsored by TIME for Kids website, basic information on Germany. Also has a page on German words, a quiz, and a day in the life of a German kid.

 German Kid Recipes

 Easy German recipes for kids, such as German potato salad.

5. Books and Keywords

For more books on Germany, here are some recommendations:

  • Boast, Clare.Germany ( Next Stop series). Crystal Lake, IL : Heinemann Interactive Library, c1998.

  • Gray, Shirley, Germay ( First Report series) Minneapolis, Minn. : Compass Point Books, c2002. 

  • Littlefield, Holly. Colors of Germany. Minneapolis : Carolrhoda Books, c1997.

  • Zuehlke,  Jeffery. Germany in Pictures. Minneapolis, Minn. : Lerner Publications Co., c2003.

Looking for more? Here are some keywords to try in your library catalog-

Germany-Juvenile literature
Germany-Social life and customs-Juvenile literature
Germany-History-Juvenile literature.



Thursday, October 17, 2013

Nonfiction Review 4-Hiromi's Hands-Lynne Barasch

Hiromi's Hands Cover

Barasch, Lynne. Hiromi's Hands.  Ill. Lynne Barasch.. New York : Lee & Low Books, c2007.
Age Range: 6-9 Lexile: 600

Children's Books of the Year
Bank Street College Children's Book Committee

"Starred Review"
School Library Journal

"Starred Review"
Kirkus Reviews

Celebrate with Books
Cleveland Public Library

Best Kid's Books of the Year
The Miami Herald

2. Summary

Growing up in New York,  Hiromi Suzuki really want to spend time with her dad, a sushi chef who worked long hours in the family's Japanese restaurant. So at age eight, she asked her dad to take to her the market where he bought fresh fish. He eventually trains her to be sushi chef and she becomes one of the first female sushi chefs of New York.

3. My Review

This is a very good book that teaches girls to follow their dreams and that their parents will support them. I love that this is told from Hiromi's voice ( and that the author knew her when she was little, as we learn toward the end of the book.) Through her eyes, we get to learn about Japanese culture and words ( with a pronunciation key and glossary) and one whole page featuring all the different types of sushi. It always make me want to try sushi!

For anyone that has big dreams, they should check out Hiromi's Hands and continue to dream big.

4. Classroom Connections

  • Learn about the different festivals and holidays in Japan. Celebrate Girls Day ( March 3) and Children's Day ( or Boy's Day, May 5.) What other holidays does Japan celebrate.
  • Ask children to write or draw what they want to be when they grow up. For older grades ( 2nd grade and up), ask them to research their profession. Or plan a What I Want To Be Day and have kids dress up. 
  • Invite parents to come in and talk about their job.
Gluten Free Fruiti Sushi Yummy!!

5. Websites to Check out ( plus a Video)
Make Sushi at Home- Food activity that ties in to book, available on Lee and Low's website

Sushi and Sashimi Glossary- Presented by the Nibble, a complete glossary of what goes in sushi and sashimi.

She Has A Knife and She Knows how to Use it- New York Times artitle on Hiromi Suzuki and her journey to sushi chef. 

Here is a short film on Suziki-Sherachi and Manhattan Rolls (Directed & Edited by Francesca Balaguer-Mercado and 2005 Best Documentary: 5th UP Film and Video Festival)

5. Books to Check Out ( plus keywords)

For more books on chefs ( including some famous female chefs), here are some recommendations:

  •  Gourley,  Robbin. Bring Me some Apples and I'll Make You a Pie: A Story about Edna Lewis. New York : Clarion Books, c2009.
  • Harland, Jessie. Bon Appetit!: the Delicious Life of Julia Child. New York : Schwartz & Wade Books, c2012. 
  • Liebman, Dan.  I Want to Be A Chef. Buffalo, N.Y. : Firefly Books, 2012.
  • Reich, Susanna. Minette's Feast: the Delicious Story of Julia Child and her Cat. New York : Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2012. 
For books on Japanese cooking for children, here are some recommendations: 
  • Beatty, Theresa . Food and Recipes of Japan. New York : Rosen/PowerKids Press, 1999.
  • Ridgwell, Jenny. A Taste of Japan. New York : Thomson Learning, 1993.
  • Sheen, Barbara. Foods of Japan.  Detroit : Thomson/Gale, 2006.
  • Weston, Reiko. Cooking the Japanese Way. Minneapolis, Minn. : Lerner Publications Co., 2002.
Looking for more ideas? Here are some key words to try on your library catalog:
Cooks-Juvenile literature
Woman cooks-United States-Biography-Juvenile literature
Cookery-Juvenile literature
Cookery, Japanese-Juvenile literature
Food habits-Japan-Juvenile literature

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Nonfiction Review 3- The Beatles were Fab (and they were Funny)-Kathleen Krull and Paul Brewer

Krull, Kathleen and Paul Brewer.  2013. The Beatles were Fab (and They were Funny)Ill.  Stacy Innerst..Boston : Harcourt Children's Books.
Age Range: 6-9 Lexile: 860

2. Summary

 Once upon a time, in Liverpool, England, there were four musicans: John Lennon, Paul McCarthney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr. They loved to sing, make music, and laugh. Join Kathleen Krull and Paul Brewer, along with illustator Stacy Innerst, on the magic and the humor of the Beatles.

3. My Review

This is a must read for any Beatles fan ( plus the cover is bright and sunny.) Krull and her husband do a great job of showing the magic and mystery of the Beatles, with lots of humor along the way. 

Fab tells the story of the Beatles in chronological order, from the naming of the band ( darn, Long John Silver and the Pieces of Eight wouldn't have been so bad) to the rise of Beatlemania in the US, ending with their final concert in Candlestick Park. 

John Lennon and his bandmates try to think of band names, laughing all the way to..the Beatles.
Throughout the band's rise to "the toppermost of the poppermost" , we learn that there were plenty of laughs along the way. For example, we learn that when the band was writing " She Loves You", Paul's father wanted them to say a proper "yes" instead of "yeah, yeah, yeah", but Paul laughed at the idea and responded "no, no, no".(And the song became the first Beatles record to sell a million copies.) Another time, the group had to deal with flying jellybeans. The group loved the English candy known as jellybabies, but since they were unable to buy in the US, fans had bought jellybeans and threw them at concerts as a way to show their love for the band. (But don't worry, John's solution was to eat them.). We also get lots of quirky quotes from the lads ( my favorite is their response to how they feel about their fans. George says they are flattered, John responds with "and flattened."

The acrylic and ink illustrations by Innerst add and expand on the humor and wonder of the band's rise to fame. He does a great job in capturing the images of the band mates, from cute Paul to Ringo and his big nose. We even get some familiar images ( like Abbey Road). A timeline and book and website resources are featured at the end.

 In the end,  a really good book that proves all you need is love... and laughs.

4. Classroom Connections
  •  Ask children if they have ever heard of the Beatles. Play some of their music or show concert or film clips, like Yellow Submarine.
  • Use the book as part of a unit on the 1960s. Explore historical events, clothing, other musical groups, etc.
  • Look at other pop culture and entertainment from Great Britain. Examples- Harry Potter, James Bond, Teletubbies.
5.  Website to Check out

The Beatles- Official website of the Beatles, featuring everything from the history of the group to images and latest Beatles projects.

The Beatles for Kids-Part of the Canadian webpage Bunch, lists cool ways for parents to introduce their children to the Beatles.

Beatles Word Play-  Fun Trivia page that looks at the word play of the Beatles.

The Beatles to the Wanted- Hollywood Reporter photo gallery that looks at the history of boy bands. ( See if you remember any of them).

6. Books to Check out (plus keywords)

  • Edgers, George. Who were the Beatles?  New York : Grosset & Dunlap, c2006
  • Martin, Marvin. The Beatles: The Music was Never the Same.  New York : Franklin Watts, c1996. 
  • Partridge,  Elisabeth. John Lennon: All I want is the Truth: a photographic biography. New York, N.Y. : Viking, 2005.
  • Roberts, Jeremy. The Beatles.  Minneapolis, Minn. : Lerner Publications, c2002. 
Looking for more books? Here are some keywords to try on your library catalog-
Beatles-Juvenile literature
Rock musicians-England-Biography-Juvenile literature.
 Lennon , John(1940-1980)-Juvenile literature.
 McCartney, Paul-Juvenile literature

7. An Added Treat at the end

Since we are talking about the Beatles, I felt like adding a little musical treat to end this review. Here is one of the favorite songs, " Blackbird" , as featured in the Cirque du Soleil movie, Worlds Away. Enjoy!


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Nonfiction Review 2- P is for Princess: a Royal Alphabet by Steven L. and Deborah Dover Lanye

Layne, Steven L. and Deborah Dover Lanye. 2007. P Is for Princess: A Royal Alphabet. Ill. Robert and Lisa Papp. Chelsea, MI: Sleeping Bear Press
Age Range: 5-12  Lexile: 975

2. Summary

A Royal alphabet-what fun!
There's lots to learn before you're done
Some tales are true, some make-believe
We'll tell you some before you leave
From  P Is for Princess: A Royal Alphabet by Steven L. Layne and Deborah Dover Layne

In this A to Z book from Sleeping Bear Press, young children will learn about the world of kings and queens, from fairy tale princesses like Cinderella and Snow White to real life royals like Queen Victoria and Princess Diana. 

3. My Review

I love the Sleeping Bear Press alphabet books and have use some for programs. Besides beautiful artwork that can be enjoyed by younger readers, they provide lots of facts for older readers to enjoy.

What's great about P is for Princess is that it features all sides of royalty, queens and kings, some real, some make believe, and everything in between.  For example, for the letter B, we l learn about formal dance balls ( plus also learn that the word originate from Latin, ballare,  which means to dance, and what the phrase "belle of the ball means.) For letter D, we learn about the life and times of Princess Diana. For letter O, we learn about the royal orb and crown jewels. All twenty-six topics featured include a poem and artwork either by Robert Papp or his wife Lisa ( I'm including some of my favorites in this review. For more, click on the illustartor's name, and you'll be directed to their webpage related to this book.)
D is for Diana, as illustrated by Robert Papp for P is for Princess

O is for Orb, as illustrated by Robert Papp for P is for Princess

 Overall, this is a very good book. I would probably use it for a programs on royalty or fairy tales. I would recommend it for ages 5-12, probably more for girls even though a few male rulers like King Arthur and the Duke of York, as well as the the word "monarch" and "czar" are featured.

4. Classroom Connections

  • Make a new royal alphabet. Assign each student a letter and have them research a subject or person of royalty. For example, "W" could be for Prince William, "K" could be for Kate Middleton.  Students could also add a poem and draw or use pictures from the Internet  for their report.
  • Plan a King/ Queen day and make crowns, castles, or coat of arms.
  • Look at fairy tales from around the world and compare and contrast the differences.
  • Ask students what they would do if they were a royal for the day.
  • With younger kids, watch fairy tale movies like Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. With older kids, consider The Young Victoria or The Queen. Two new films are coming  out later this fall  to theaters, Diana and Grace of Monaco. 

 5. Book ideas and ( keyword tips)

For more books on royals ( kings, queens, castles, etc), here are some recommended titles:
  •   Aliki. A Medieval Feast. New York : Crowell, c1983. 
  • Boyer, Cripsin. Everything Castles. Washington, D.C. : National Geographic, 2011.
  •  Gravett, Christopher. Knight. New York : Dk Pub., 2007.
  • Melzler, Milton. Ten Kings: and the Worlds They Ruled. New York : Orchard Books, 2002.
  • Osborne, Will. Knights and Castles: a nonfiction companion to The Knight at Dawn. New York : Random House, c2000.
For historical fiction, The Royal Diaires  series is  a great read to check out. Similar to Dear America, they are fictional diaries of real life royals. Some titles include:

  • Meyer, Caroyln. Isabel: Jewel of Castilla. New York : Scholastic, 2000
  • Kirwin, Anna. Victoria: May Blossom of Britannia.  New York : Scholastic, 2001.
Looking for more ideas? Here are some keywords to try in your library catalog:
  • Kings and Rulers-Juvenile Literature
  • Castles-Juvenile literature
  • Knights-Juvenile literature
  • Princesses-Juvenile literature

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Nonfiction Review 1- Kakapo Rescue: Saving the World's Strangest Bird by Sy Montogomery


Montgomery, Sy. 2010. KAKAPO RESCUE: SAVING THE WORLD’S STRANGEST PARROT. Ill. Nic Bishop. New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children.
Age Range: 10-14    Lexile: 940  Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award Winner American Library Association Notable Books for Children Award Winner 
Nominated for Young Hoosier Book Award (2012-13)

2. Summary
 Join author Sy Montgomery and photographer Nic Bishop to Codfish Island, located on the southern coast of New Zealand, and meet the kakapo ((KAR-ka-poe), a rare and unusual species of parrot that only comes out at night, lives underground, and smells of honey. Once numbered in the millions, there are only ninety-one left in the world.  With the help of fourteen humans who share a single hut and a passion for saving these odd ground-dwelling birds, the kakapo are making a comeback in New Zealand. 

  3. My Review
 Montegomery and Bishop do a really good job of presenting their ten day trip to New Zealand to live among the volunteers and the birds. It almost feels like you're actually there, seeing the triumphs and trials that go on each day to save these amazing, " winged weirdos." This book is well written and filled with vivid pictures of the birds, the volunteers who love their work, and other life on the island ( including penguins!!!)

Part of the Scientists in the Field  series, the book is presented in chapters, each flowing wonderfully from one adventure to the next. On this adventure, we learn that  life on Codfish Island is filled with happy moments, such as the birth of new chicks, and sad moments,  such as when one of the chicks is found dead from eating a sharp seed. “That’s life with a kakapo. Things crumble sometimes", as said by volunteer Daryl when the death happens.

My favorite part of the book happens in an  anedote called " A Night with Sirocco." Here, the author and crew encounter a very friendly male kakapo. Shy at first, the bird soon is hopping on everyone, even the author.  It is explained by the rangers he is love-with the humans. I can just imagine the laugh track and cartoon-ish music as the scene of  the lovesick parrot is happening. ( Toward the end of the book, she has another encounter with a kakapo named Sinbad. This visit is much calmer and consider by the author "a blessing" and photographer Nic " an incredible gift" .)

On her last day on Codfish Island, author Sy Montogomery has a magical visit with Sinbad.

This book introduces us to an amazing bird that hopefully, thanks to the Kakapo Recovery Team, will still be around for years to come. I would definitely this book recommended for ages 10 and up, especially for those that love animals.

  4. Connections to the Classroom
  • Before reading the book to students ask them if they have ever heard of a kakapo and what they think it might look like.
  • Ask students what "endanger" and "extinct" mean and have them look for animals that fall under those words.
  •  For an English/Language Arts assignment, have students write a story of what they would see if given the opportunity to visit Codfish Island.
  • Use the book as part of a unit on Australia and New Zealand.
  •  Learn more about the Kakapo Recovery Team by visiting their official website. (They also links where you can  view sound and video clips of the kakapo. There's even a separate page all about Sirrocco!!) Also check out the Fabulous Kakapo for even more information.

5. Book Ideas (and Keyword Tips)

For more books on endangered species, here are some recommended titles:

  • Andryszewski, Tricia. Mass Extinction: Examining the Current Crisis. Minneapolis : Twenty-First Century Books, c2008.
  • Jenkins, Steve. Almost Gone: The World's Rarest Animals. New York, NY : HarperCollins Publishers, c2006. 
  • Kalman, Bobbie. Endangered Manatees. New York, NY : Crabtree Pub. Co., c2006.( Part of the Earth's Endanger Animals series)
  •  Markle, Sandra. The Case of the Vanishing Golden Frogs.  Minneapolis : Milbrook Press, c2012.
Here are some recommended titles from the Scientists in the Field series:

  • Burns, Loree Griffith. The Hive Detectives: Chronicles of a Honey Bee Catastrophe. Boston : Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, c2010.  
  • Carson, Mary Kay. The Bat Scientists. Boston : Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2010. 
  •  Montgomery, Sy. Quest for the Tree Kangaroo: An Expedition to the Cloud Forest of New Guinea.Boston : Houghton Mifflin, 2006. 
  •  Montgomery, Sy. The Tarantula Scientist.Boston : Houghton Mifflin, 2004. 
Want More? Here are a few keywords to try in your library catalog-

Endangered species-Juvenile literature
Rare birds
Birds-Conservation-Juvenile literature
Kapok-Juvenile literature