Author Profile: Andrea Beaty

Today, we are taking a deeper dive into the world of author Andrea Beaty. Andrea writes board books, picture books, and middle grade novels and you may know her from some of her most famous books, Rosie Revere, Engineer and Iggy Peck, Architect. She partnered with illustrator David Roberts on those two books, as well as a new book coming out (tomorrow!) called Ada Twist, Scientist.

Andrea’s books all feature characters with their own dreams, passions, and ideas. They see opportunities in the world around them, and it is fun to watch them express themselves. In several of her books, she uses rhyming prose with a dash of whimsy in order to make the flow work while playing with the details (my kids and I love that Madame Chapeau goes to Chez Snooty-Patoot every year for her birthday). In the other books where rhyming is not used, the prose still flows and is a joy to read out loud. My son said that When Giants Come to Play was like a poem.

Our favorite Andrea Beaty books are:
Rose Revere, EngineerHappy Birthday Madame Chapeau Iggy Peck, ArchitectWhen Giants Come to Play
Rosie Revere, Engineer is a part of our home library, and it is on frequent rotation. I enjoy the models Ms. Beaty’s story children provide for developing young minds – that even though you may be misunderstood or challenged in your ideas, you should stay true to who you are and be perserverant in your goals.

We had just finished reading Roald Dahl’s The BFG in our house when we read When Giants Come to Play, and it was a nice counterpoint to some of the hideous giants featured in The BFG.

Some other books from this author that I have not yet read: Dorko the Magnificient, Hide and Sheep, Attack of the Fluffy Bunnies, and Secrets of the Cicada Summer. We’ll be adding them to our library queue soon!

What is your favorite Andrea Beaty book? Please share in the comments!

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Author Profile: Salina Yoon

We love, love, love author/illustrator Salina Yoon in our house. She writes engaging and visually charming stories for young children, primarily in board and picture books. Her books are all sweet, while the illustrations are simple and cute.

Her books range from interactive board books for toddlers (Kaleidoscope and Pinwheel) to picture books for the 3-8 year old range. She has several character book series starring Penguin (from Penguin and Pinecone and other stories) and Bear (from Found and other stories).

We discovered Ms. Yoon’s books through my daughter’s preschool teacher. Miss Lisa loves penguins, and she read several of the Penguin books to the students. We secretly think Miss Lisa feels a close connection to Penguin (they are both sweet and love to knit!). We began taking out Salina Yoon books from the library on our own and have enjoyed them all, including:

Found is our favorite, and we bought it for our home library so we would stop wearing out the library copy. Read my previous review here. In preparing this list, I found that Bear’s Big Day came out in June. We’ll be on the lookout for it!

What is your favorite Salina Yoon book? Please share in the comments!

Author Profile: Lane Smith

Today, we are taking a deeper dive into the world of author and illustrator, Lane Smith. He has won the Caldecott Award for Grandpa Green and The Stinky Cheese Man. Several of his books have won the New York Times Best Illustrated Book Award.

You may know Mr. Lane from his frequent collaboration with Jon Scieszka. I am also proud to say he lives in my lovely state of Connecticut.

His picture book illustrations have a distinct style, ranging from cute to creepy to inspired. His illustrations are often rich, and reward the careful reader with creative details. Each time my kids and I re-read his illustrated books, we discover new details. He seems to be able to really capture the essence of the text he is illustrating, whether it be for Jon Scieszka’s twisted humor or Bob Shea’s purity of story. He also brings a combination of beautiful illustrations and simple text to the books he both authors and illustrates.

Our favorite Lane Smith books are:
Grandpa GreenScience VerseThe Stinky Cheese ManSquids Will Be SquidsThe True Story of the Three Little Pigs

Our family reads Mr. Smith’s books over and over, and we each have a favorite. My son loves the humor of Science Verse, and how it creatively describes science concepts. My daughter enjoys The Stinky Cheese Man (it cracks both my kids up every time), and I am drawn to the sweetness of Grandpa Green.

Some other books from this author that I have not yet read: The Big Elephant in the Room, Math Verse, Princess Hyacinth, and John, Paul, George, and Ben. We’ll be adding them to our library queue soon!

What is your favorite Lane Smith book? Please share in the comments!

Author Profile: Jon Scieszka

Today, I am featuring Jon Scieszka, an author who started his career as a teacher before finding success with his own unique sense of humor. He has written a wide range of books, from the Trucktown preschool series to multiple fractured fairy tales. You probably know him best for his frequent collaborations with illustrator Lane Smith, with whom he worked on The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales, The Time Warp Trio Series, Science Verse, Squids Will Be Squids, Cowboy and Octopus, and others.

Mr. Scieszka has a very unique sense of humor that is silly and multilevel. Both parents and children will enjoy different things about his books, and parents might even enjoy the repeated readings (gasp!). For his fairy tale-based books, he takes a slightly different perspective on what we think we know about characters and their stories. I can almost hear him starting a book writing session by saying, “What if?…”

He has won a long list of awards for his books, including the Caldecott Honor for The Stinky Cheese Man, the Golden Duck Award for Excellence in Children’s Science Fiction Literature (Science Verse), and multiple citations by the ALA, New York Times, and National Education Association. Mr. Scieszka previously served as as the US National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, and is dedicated to increasing literacy and making reading fun.

Our favorite Jon Scieszka books are:
The Stinky Cheese Man(see my previous review here)The True Story of the Three Little PigsScience Verse

All of the above books have so much humor and interesting text packed into them. We own the Stinky Cheese Man and have read it so many times the pages are worn. I will soon be buying Science Verse, as it has been read no less that a dozen times since we brought it home from the library. Science Verse not only introduces scientific concepts, but because the text is based on classic poems or songs, it has also generates an interest in the original material. Way to get kids interested in science, literature, and the arts all at once!

Some other books from this author that we have not yet read: The Time Warp Trio Series; the Frank Einstein series; Honestly, Red Riding Hood was Rotten! The Story of Red Riding Hood as Told by The Wolf; or the Guys Read series. We didn’t care for the Trucktown series, but once we discovered it my son was too old for it.

What is your favorite Jon Scieszka book? Please share in the comments!

Author Profile: Bill Martin, Jr.

Today, I am featuring Bill Martin, Jr., an author who wrote for almost 60 years and was inducted into the Reading Hall of Fame by the International Literacy Association. After a career in education, he began writing books and several are still being published since his death in 2004.

If you live in the Texas area, you might be able to make a visit to his library on the campus of Texas A&M University in Commerce. According to his website, his many awards, manuscripts, and personal letters are on display there.

Most of Bill Martin’s books that you would be familiar with are picture books, with some illustrated by Eric Carle. Many of his books have a lovely lyrical rhythm to them, which may be why they are some of my daughter’s favorites. Our favorite Bill Martin, Jr. books include:

Brown Bear, Bown BearChicka Chicka Boom BoomChicka Chicka 123Sounds of the Storyteller
My daughter’s favorite of the four is Chicka Chicka 1-2-3. When we read that book together, she demands that we return to the beginning and immediately read it again. The last book may be unfamiliar to you. It is a student storybook collection published in 1966 that was used in my elementary school. I still have my copy among my favorite books that I have kept from my childhood.

If you like Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?  there are several others in the series with the same cadence and illustrator.

Bill Martin, Jr. wrote over 300 books for children, so this is an author I need to do some more exploring with. Some other books he wrote that are at the top of my list to read: Kitty Cat, Kitty Cat, Are you Waking Up?; Barn Dance; Knots on a Counting Rope; and The Turning of the Year.

What is your favorite Bill Martin Jr. book? Please share in the comments!

Author Profile: Cressida Cowell

Today I am featuring another of our favorite authors, Cressida Cowell. She is a British writer/illustrator who write picture books and chapter books. Her wonderful sense of humor and whimsy have earned her books (and the movies made from them!) international recognition. While her wry sense of humor shines through each of her books, I find them quite diverse.

You may know Ms. Cowell from the Hiccup the Viking series, most notably How to Train Your Dragon. However, she is also the author of one of my children’s (and mine) favorite characters, Emily Brown.

Her books range from board books for toddlers (What Shall We Do with the Boo-hoo Baby?) to picture books for the 3-8 year old range. Her Dragon books are longer and more complex, and therefore may appeal to the 7-9 year old target audience.

Our favorite Cressida Cowell books are:
Cressida Cowell BooksThat Rabbit Belongs to Emily BrownEmily Brown and the ThingEmily Brown and the Elephant Emergency

That Rabbit Belongs to Emily Brown is the clear favorite, but we have read all of the Emily Brown books multiple times. Read my previous reviews here and here. In the case of How to Train Your Dragon, we did the reverse of our normal approach and discovered the book after enjoying the movie. I also found a copy of How to Be a Viking (a picture book introduction to Hiccup) at our library, which also came with an audio companion CD with extra story elements read in a lovely Scottish brogue. Check it out if you can find it!

Some other books from this author that I have not yet read: Claydon Was a Clingy Child, Super Sue at Super School, Little Bo Peep’s Library Book, and Don’t Do That Kitty Kilroy. I also haven’t read past the first How to Train Your Dragon book, but my kids and I may in the future!

What is your favorite Cressida Cowell book? Please share in the comments!

Author Profile: Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen

Often, we enjoy particular authors and read many of their books. Today, I am featuring Sudiptha Bardhan-Quallen, an author who started her career in biology before finding enjoyment in telling stories to her young children. She began writing non-fiction for children focused on science topics and then biographies of famous Americans.

She then branched into picture books, and has written a range of stories. With some authors, you can identify immediately that it is their book based on the style of prose, humor, or topic. In Ms. Bardhan-Quallen’s case, she loves animals (especially pigs), but otherwise each book is different.

Some of the books are simpler and more suited for the 3-5 year old range, and some are more complex and may appeal to the 5-8 year old target audience.

Our favorite Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen books are:Snoring BeautyPirate PrincessMineosaur

The Mine-o-Saur is our favorite of the three. It is full of humor, and makes a point about not sharing without it feeling heavy handed. The other dinosaurs also demonstrate different ways to respond when someone else is not sharing. Look for the part where they look down at their knees- one dino in particular is taking it very seriously!

My daughter would love to be a Pirate Princess herself, and the princess in that book stays focused on her dream of being a pirate, despite her parent’s objections and her inability to successfully complete pirate chores. Snoring Beauty is a twist on the traditional tale, told from the perspective of a mouse who really just wants to get some sleep.

Some other books from this author that we have not yet read: Orangutangled, Hampire!, Chicks Run Wild, Quackenstein Hatches a Family, and the Hog Prince.

What is your favorite Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen book? Please share in the comments!