Review: They All Saw a Cat/ Max’s Review

They All Saw a Cat

Written and Illustrated by: Brendan Wenzel

Chronicle Books, 2016, Hardcover

Target Audience: Ages 4-8

Genre: Fiction

Theme: Perspective, curiosity, looking at the world differently

How We Discovered This Book: This is an ALA Award winner of the Caldecott Award in 2017. Congratulations! Whenever I need some new quality books to read, I check out the ALA Award winners. There is a high probability that I will like the books they select.

Summary: A cat explores the world and encounters a child, other animals, and bugs. The author/illustrator then shows us what each of them see when they see the cat. He uses mixed medium to show a different view of the cat each time. While it’s very enjoyable for a child visually and audibly (spare, lovely prose), adults will be interested in the underlying thoughts, perspectives, and assumptions that go into each view.

What the Kids Liked About This Book: Both of my kids enjoyed the contrasts in images, words, and ideas. It caused some interesting discussion between them after reading.

Resources:

 

Grab a group of friends or family and make your own paintings or drawings of what you see around you (preferably outdoors after a walk/hike!). Hang up your pictures gallery style, and compare and contrast what you each saw.

Talk about how animals might see us. Watch this video on How Animals See the World.

Here are some activities and coloring pages from the publisher. Enjoy!

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Max is back with his review of They All Saw a Cat. Max would love to hear your suggestions on picture books he should review. Please share your suggestions in the comments!

Email subscribers: Please click over to this post on the website to see Max’s complete video.

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Max Looks Ahead to 2017

Happy New Year! Max stopped by to give us a preview into some picture books being published in 2017. Enjoy!

Email subscribers: Please click over to this post on the website to see Max’s complete video.

 

Review: Lizard from the Park/ Max’s Review

Lizard from the Park Lizard from the Park

Written and Illustrated by: Mark Pett

Simon and Shuster Books for Young Readers, 2015, Hardcover

Target Audience: Ages 3-8

Genre: Fiction

Theme: Imagination, Friendship

How We Discovered This Book: This is another great find from the new books bin at our library. My daughter was immediately interested based on the cover art.

Summary: Leonard takes a shortcut through the park and finds a dinosaur egg. It hatches, and together they go to many places across the city. But then the dinosaur gets too big for Leonard’s apartment.

What I Liked: The illustrations are rendered in charcoal and then colored on the computer. They are simple but expressive, which gives the look a Calvin and Hobbes-type vibe. The story is fanciful, but not ridiculous – the right words along with regular expressions on the boy’s face make you believe it could really be happening. By the end you believe it has all happened. Or has it?

What Did My Kids Think? They liked going along with Leonard’s imagination, and that the story takes an unexpected turn at the end. They liked the cute illustrations, and the fact that the dinosaur stays cute even as he gets bigger and bigger. Both enjoyed reading this book over and over.

Resources:

Make a paper dinosaur and take him/her places. Take pictures to chronicle your adventures.

Do you go the same way to school, the park, or other favorite place? Try a different route next time, and see what you might discover.

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Hello from Max! Max enjoyed this book too – see what he has to say.

Email subscribers: Please click over to this post on the website to see Max’s complete video.

Review: Chalk and Cheese

Chalk and Cheese CoverChalk and Cheese

Written and Illustrated by Tim Warnes

Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing; 2008, Hardcover

Target Audience: 3-8

Genre: Fiction

Theme: Friendship, Respecting Differences

How We Discovered This Book: My daughter found this book in our library’s new books bin. It was published a few years ago, but we’re glad to discover it now!

Summary: In researching the odd name of this book (I could understand the name Cheese for a mouse, but I was stumped with why a dog was named Chalk), I learned that “Chalk and Cheese” is based on an obscure British saying – as in, “They are completely different. As different as chalk and cheese.” This book takes the concept and tells a story about a British country mouse and an American dog. They are friends and pen pals, and one day Cheese comes to New York City to visit Chalk. They each look at the world differently, so we get to see two different perspectives on what they see and experience.

What I Liked: I enjoyed the illustrations and the narrative – spare text with simple illustrations. There are visual jokes and gems to find throughout. The message of embracing each other’s difference was nicely delivered without being heavy-handed.

What Did My Kids Think? Most kids like animals in their books, and my kids are no exception. They followed right along with Chalk and Cheese’s New York City adventure. They enjoyed when Cheese didn’t understand something – just like kids sometimes – and Chalk patiently explained it to him (or even better – showed him).

Resources:

 

Brainstorm things that are very different (story characters in other books, inanimate objects, family members), and give them an adventure. What would they do? Where would they go?

Illustrate your own adventure story set in the place you live. Are there secret places for hiding? Are there things a visitor to your town MUST see? No worries if you don’t consider yourself a strong illustrator – stick figures will do. Adding some color and an interesting perspective make all the difference.

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Max is back from Spring Break with his review of Chalk and Cheese. Check out his video to see what he thought!

Email subscribers: Please click over to this post on the website to see Max’s complete video.

Review: The Book With No Pictures/ Max’s Review

The Book With No PicturesThe Book With No Pictures

Written by: B. J. Novak

Dial Books, 2014, Hardcover

Target Audience: Ages 4-8

Genre: Fiction

Theme: Reading out loud, humor, silliness

How We Discovered This Book: My daughter’s teacher read this book to her class, and she hasn’t stopped talking about it since.

Summary: From the beginning: “You might think a book with no pictures seems boring and serious. Except… here’s how books work.” The book continues with the reader having to read all kinds of silly things aloud.

What I Liked: It’s a creative approach, and the silliness makes it fun to read multiple times. And the children will want you to read it again. And again.

What Did My Daughter Think? This books makes my daughter laugh EVERY time. I think each time we read it she laughs harder, anticipating what is coming next. She’s even made up a tune to go with the words.

Resources:

Make your own book with no pictures. What are the funniest words you can think of to read aloud? (Thanks for ArtsyMomma for the idea)

Look for other books that are especially fun to read aloud. Try We Are in a Book by Mo Willems or  Press Here by Hervé Tullet.

Watch author B.J. Novak read the book aloud to a group of kids.

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Max is back with his review of The Book with No Pictures. Max would love to hear your suggestions on picture books he should review. Please share your suggestions in the comments!

Email subscribers: Please click over to this post on the website to see Max’s complete video.

Review: Sophie’s Squash/ Max’s Review

Sophie's Squash cover Sophie’s Squash

Written by: Pat Zietlow Miller

Illustrated by: Anne Wilsdorf

Schwartz and Wade Books, 2013, Hardcover

Target Audience: Ages 3-8

Genre: Fiction

Theme: Friendship, Hope, Creative Thinking

How We Discovered This Book: We found this one in the new books bin at our library. The cover and illustrations pulled me right in. It has received 4 starred reviews, an Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Honor, and a Charlotte Zolotow Honor.

Summary: Sophie finds a lovely squash at the farmer’s market, and draws a face on it. She names it Bernice, and it becomes her best friend until her family and friends becomes concerned that Bernice is…. well… rotting. When Sophie finally does what’s best for Bernice, she is rewarded for her dedication.

What I Liked: How Sophie adopts a squash and makes it into a friend is totally something my daughter would do. I love Sophie’s spirit, and how she has her own mind about things.

What Did My Kids Think? They liked the dialogue, and how Sophie handled the questions from her friends and family. Aidan’s favorite part was when Sophie’s mom suggested that Bernice would be tasty with marshmallows, and Sophie responded, “Don’t listen Bernice!” Sophie also says that the blotches that Bernice gets are really freckles.

Resources:

Random House has a few activities, including how to host a Sophie’s Squash story time, and how to make your own fall friend!

Make your own friend from a fruit or vegetable. Get creative- all you need is a Sharpie and your favorite friend.

Penny Klosterman reviewed this book back in 2013 on her blog– check out her review and her activity ideas.

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Max has his own thoughts about Sophie’s Squash, and what makes the best fall friend. Check out his review below, and the rest of his reviews at Puppets Love Children’s Books.

Email subscribers: Please click over to this post on the website to see Max’s complete video.

Review: The New Small Person/ Max’s Review

The New Small Person coverThe New Small Person

Written and Illustrated by: The New Small Person

Candlewick Press, 2015, Hardcover

Target Audience: Ages 3-8

Genre: Fiction

Theme: Families, Siblings

How We Discovered This Book: We found this one in the new books bin at our library.

Summary: Elmore’s life is perfect- he puts his toys where he wants, and he’s in sole control of his jelly beans. Then his new brother comes along. And he is no fun at all. Maybe.

What I Liked: Besides the totally charming illustrations (similar to Ms. Child’s Charlie and Lola characters), this is an interesting take on the changes that first borns have to deal with when a new sibling is born.

What Did My Kids Think? They love Charlie and Lola, so they liked this book right from the cover. Aidan said he didn’t feel this way when his sister came along, but he was very eager to play with her.

Resources:

Check out Creative with Kids for playtime activities for babies and older siblings.

Interested in checking out Charlie and Lola? They have a website with activities and more information about the books. They even have a TV show on PBS.

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Hello from Max! Max really liked this book too – see what he has to say.

Email subscribers: Please click over to this post on the website to see Max’s complete video.

Review: Are You Ready to Play Outside?/ Max’s Review

Cover- Are you Ready to Play Outside?Are You Ready to Play Outside?

Written and Illustrated by: Mo Willems

Hyperion Books for Children, 2008, Hardcover

Target Audience: Ages 3-8

Genre: Fiction

Theme: Friendship, Creative Problem Solving

How We Discovered This Book: I went looking for a summer themed book, and this is one of our old favorites. It is also a Theodore Geisel Award winner.

Summary: Piggie and Gerald can’t wait to play outside, but it begins to rain. Gerald helps Piggie have fun in the rain, but then it stops. What will they do now?

What I Liked: The Elephant and Piggie books are charming, simple, and funny. This book is no exception. With just simple illustrations and text, so much is expressed. My kids and I just noticed (after many years of reading these books) that the setting is just some nondescript place outside. We had never noticed!

What Did My Kids Think? My kids vie for who gets to read each of the voices. The text leaves so much room for expression. The books are short reads, so there is plenty of time to go back to the beginning and read it again!

Resources:

Brainstorm with your kids/students a list of things you can do inside and outside. And then flip the list and talk about what would happen if you had to do an outside activity inside (and vice versa). What creative solutions could you come up with to make each activity work?

There are many possible Elephant and Piggie companion activities: Try these or these. Mo Willem’s Pigeon even has an Elephant and Piggie party kit!

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And heeeeere’s Max! He’s back with his own review of Are You Ready to Play Outside? Max has taken a break from hanging out at the pool to give us his review this week.

Email subscribers: Please click over to this post on the website to see Max’s complete video.

Review: Hermelin the Detective Mouse/ Max’s Review

Hermelin cover

Max is back! See what Max thinks of this month’s book.

Email subscribers: Please click over to this post on the website to see Max’s complete video.

Hermelin the Detective Mouse

Written and Illustrated by: Mini Grey

Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2014, Hardcover

Target Audience: Ages 3-8

Genre: Fiction

Theme: Mystery, Finding what you’re good at

How We Discovered This Book: We found this one in the new books bin at our library.

Summary: Hermelin is a mouse living in a little girl’s attic on Offley Street. Things go missing, and Hermelin decides to play detective and find their things. As he solves the mysteries, he leaves notes for the owners to tell them where to find their belongings. What would people think if they knew that Hermelin was a mouse?

What I Liked: Hermelin is cute, and the author/illustrator gives him a lot of personality. The illustrations are so rich, you can linger on each page just looking for all of the hidden details. I love that he names himself after a brand of cheese, rather than something like Bob or Squeaky.

What Did My Kids Think? My kids loved trying to solve the mysteries, and felt very smart when they figured them out. As soon as we were done reading, they immediately wanted to go back and read it again.

Resources:

Type secret notes for a friend or family member. Hermelin uses a typewriter, but a computer and printer will do. You could find something they’ve been missing, or do an act of kindness.

Imagine you are a mouse. Get down on the floor and discover what you might find if you are at Hermelin’s level.

Review: Ninja Red Riding Hood/ Max’s Review

Ninja Red Riding Hood Cover
Ninja Red Riding Hood

Written by: Corey Rosen Schwartz

Illustrated by: Dan Santat

G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, 2014, Hardcover

Target Audience: Ages 3-8

Genre: Fiction

Theme: Independence, Creative Problem Solving

How We Discovered This Book: We found this one in the new books bin at our library.

Summary: Red is on her way to Grandma’s house as you would expect, but how would the story be different if Red and the Wolf had taken ninja lessons? (And Grandma had taken tai chi).

What I Liked: This is a fun twist on a traditional fairytale. Each time you think you know what to expect the author throws you something unexpected.

What Did My Kids Think? I have a son who thinks ninjas are cool, and a daughter currently taking karate lessons. What’s not to love?

Resources:

There is a Pinterest Board with all kinds of ideas for companion activities, including stick puppets, worksheets, story mapping, story element activities, and even a template for writing a letter to the wolf. My favorite is a blank wanted poster where you can add in a picture of the wolf and all his “crimes.”

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Last month we introduced you to Max, a new contributor to our blog. He has his own YouTube Channel called Puppets Love Children’s Books. We’ve asked him to stop by every so often to give us his own unique perspective on picture books. Check out what Max has to say about Ninja Red Riding Hood.

Email subscribers: Please click over to this post on the website to see Max’s complete video.