Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Picture Book: Big, Bigger, Biggest!

This is the second book I've reviewed with this title, and I'm pleased to say it's as appealing as the first one! Author Nancy Coffelt has written a great book about comparisons, synonyms and antonyms. The best part is that you won't know you're learning when you read it, because it's so fun!

Clear, cartoon pictures of animals are feature on each page, with a bright contrasting background. Each animals makes a statement: the hippopotamus says, "I'm big." The dinosaur says, "I'm biggest!". The bunny says, "I'm small". And so on! Each group (big, small, fast, slow, hungry, slimy, sleepy) has three animals, each with their own statement. (big, bigger, biggest, etc.)

Underneath each animals' statement, there are three synonyms that give kids other ways to say the word. For example, the hippo ("I'm big!") is also large, huge, and jumbo. The tortoise ("I'm slow!") is also plodding, languid, and ponderous. What a wonderful way to learn new words! The pictures give kids a concrete sense of each word, so that they really make sense. Parents can encourage kids to use these words for fun! Kids will get a kick out of a parent saying, "Don't be so ponderous" when they send kids off to bed. A great pick for vocabulary building.

Picture Book

Ages 4-8

Click here to check out the Port Moody Public Library's catalogue!

Poetry: Button Up!

What a fun book of rhymes! This poetry collection, by Alice Schertle, is all about the clothes we wear. The fun and quirky rhymes are written from the point of view of kids' clothes. My personal favourite? Bob's helmet! Here's a sample:
Bob's on his bike
and i'm on Bob.
I'm Bob's helmet.
I'm on the job.
Bob burns rubber.
Bob climbs hills.
Bob does wheelies.
Bob takes spills.
Jack's Soccer Jersey is also a winner, as is Bill's Blue Jacket. These are wonderful poems, great for a read aloud, and sure to make you giggle. Lots of boy appeal too, which is rare with poetry! These poems would be great for classroom use as well as at home; reading poetry together is a great way to support kids' literacy learning. A fun book for those who thought they didn't like poetry!
Ages 4-8
Click here to check out the Port Moody Public Library's catalogue!

Nonfiction: Join In and Play

This book is extremely useful for any parent or caregiver of a preschool or young elementary child. It tackles the difficult subject of playing with friends.
It's hard for young children to know how to join a group of other kids who are already playing. Asking to join in is a learned skill, and a very important one! This book makes suggestions about these situations in language that kids will understand.
Suggestions include, "When I see someone I'd like to play with, I can walk up and smile as I say hello." or, "I can invite someone to play with me." It sounds simple, but these play skills are learned behaviours that many kids have trouble mastering!
The book uses clear, friendly and multicultural artwork that can also help kids identify what to do when a situation doesn't go their way. For example, "Sometimes I lose a game, or get picked last, or don't get a turn. I can still have fun. And things might go better next time". The author also shows kids how to help others who are having a hard time: "When things don't go well for someone else, I can say something kind.".
This book is a very useful and accessible title for many kids, and would be great as a shared read in daycares and preschools as well.
Ages 3-6
Click here to check out the Port Moody Public Library's catalogue!

Picture Book: The Three Robbers

Parents might remember this classic, award winning picture book from their own childhoods! Published in 1963, the Three Robbers is a childhood standard, for good reason.
From the opening "once upon a time", right up until the fairy tale ending, this is a sneakily charming tale about three bad robbers who end up being very good indeed.
The best part of this book is the strong, bold artwork. Every page makes great use of negative space, with black backgrounds and distintive silhouettes. As the robbers become reformed (courtesy of a small girl who takes over their hearts) the pages become lighter, with more greens, reds, and othe colours creeping in. The iconic art is the kind that kids will remember for years to come. A wonderful book with a great message and wonderful illustration. Highly recommended.
Picture book
Ages 3-6
Click here to check out the Port Moody Public Library's catalogue!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Nursery Rhymes with CD: Playtime Rhymes for Little People

Barefoot Books is immediately recognizable as the publisher of this book, because their trademark fabric and stitchery illustrations are all over the bright, attractive cover.

Inside, kids will find a wonderful selection of over 40 well known or classic nursery rhymes and songs. Some will be familiar to all (I'm a little teapot, Head and shoulders) and some are delightfully older songs or rhymes that have fallen out of favour (Five litle peas, Wind the bobbin up, Hinx Minx). Each rhyme has a colourful fabric illustration to support the text.

Best of all, this book comes with a CD that will help parents and kids learn (or remember!) the tunes to these fun rhymes and songs. The track titles don't match up exactly with the pages of the book, so some page flipping will be necessary to figure out what song is playing, but overall the inclusion of the CD is extremley helpful.

I would use the CD more as an aide to help me learn to sing the songs myself; the music is not particularly to my taste. As a learning tool, however, it's more than adequate.

Nursery Rhymes with CD
Ages 0-4
Click here to check out the Port Moody Public Library's catalogue!

Friday, September 04, 2009

Picture Book: Not All Animals are Blue

This book's tagline is "a big book of little differences". Each page has a picture of an animal group on the right hand spread, with some pointed questions on the left hand side.
For example, the picture of "Five Brand New Babies" shows an alligator baby, a penguin, an owl, an ostrich, and a turtle, all in a row. The questions ask, "why is she wearing pajamas?" "Who's having a drink first?" "She seems very sad". and "she's wearing her eggshell as a hat".

These questions (and comments) act as conversation starters, getting kids and parents to look closely at the details of the art. Some questions spur discussion (She seems very sad) and some invite speculation and factual conversations (do alligators really come from eggs?).

The true value of this book is that it inspires dialogic reading, or reading where parents and kids have a conversation about the book. Talking about books while you read them is a very effective way to maximize the early literacy impact of shared reading, and build kids' vocabulary, narrative and comprehension skills. You can do this with any book, but "Not All Animals Are Blue" is a wonderful help for parents who are not sure about dialogic reading.
A great quiet book for bedtime or other peaceful moments.

Picture Book
Ages 3-5
Click here to check out the Port moody public Library's catalogue.