PB & J Book Review

Six months ago when I decided to dive back into blogging, I was fortunate to connect with some amazing authors. Not only did I review their books, two of them even did virtual visits with me for my EdOptions Academy kids. We continue to follow and support one another on social media, and have developed a really awesome friendship. Christine Reynebau was one of my first author friends, and she continues to be an absolute inspiration. I reviewed her picture book Celebrate back in June (click here to see my review for Celebrate), and I’m super excited to share another one of her works.

PB& J, by Christine Reynebau, is a sweet story about perseverance and support.

The main character is an adorable little girl who wants to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but she can’t open the jelly jar. She tries a few ways to open the jar on her own, but she is unsuccessful. She decides to do what all girls do when the going gets tough… she asks her parents for help.

Both of her parents gently say they will not open the jar because they believe that she can open the jar on her own. At first I was surprised when her dad told her this, because dad’s usually do anything to help their daughters. But the fact that the dad encourages her to keep trying is heartwarming. I love that by not helping his daughter open the jar her dad is teaching her an important life lesson of perseverance. And when her mom also tells her daughter to keep trying it reiterates the life lesson.

The little girl spends the rest of the picture book trying creative ways to open the jar. I love that she ties the jar to the back of her bike and when that doesn’t work pitches the jar to her brother Mike. She really does try anything she can think of to get the lid off.

Spoiler alert: After all of her creative attempts, the little girl is successful by opening the jar with one hand. She is so incredibly proud of herself, as she should be, and celebrates with encouraging words from her parents and a PB & J sandwich.

This adorable picture book would be great with little ones in preschool through second grade.

To purchase the book click here.

A Day in the Life of a Kid: Circus Is Fun for Everyone Book Review

Disclaimer: I was provided a copy of this book from the author to facilitate this review. As always, all opinions are my own and are not influenced in any way.

I absolutely love the relationships I’ve been able to establish with so many great authors over the last few years through this blog and social media. I also get super excited when authors reach out to me about a new project they want me to share, which is what brings me here today. In May, I did a book review for Spring Song (check out the post here), and was touched when Anetta emailed me two weeks ago about a new book.

A Day in the Life of a Kid: Circus Fun for Everyone, by Anetta Kotowicz, is a whimsical book about a circus experience that promotes anti-bullying.

As with Spring Song, there is a music component with this text. I think that this little extra helps readers to visualize what it is like going to a circus. The use of onomatopoeias in the text make it super fun to read aloud, especially if little ones repeat the sounds.

I really enjoyed the illustrations of this text. As a parent, I haven’t taken Molly to a circus yet, and I felt that this book does a great job depicting the whimsical and fun aspect of the experience. The bright colors, including all the different elements (food, animals, etc). provides readers with a realistic visit. I believe that books can take readers on new adventures, especially if readers don’t have the ability to physically go on these. This book definitely fulfills the adventure of going to the circus for the first time.

What I found a little unexpected was the shift the plot took when the clowns came out. Up until this point, I thought the book was quite enjoyable as we “watched” a circus performance. However, when one of the clowns did not feel comfortable to go through the ring of fire, the other clowns poked and bullied instead of supported their friend. Ellie, our main character, takes a very brave stand and speaks up for the scared clown in front of the entire circus.

In all honesty, I had to read this scene twice to make sure I understood what I was reading because as a reader I wasn’t prepared for this. I thought Ellie’s courage was admirable and sent a very powerful message to readers about bullying. Instead of being a bystander, Ellie intervenes and the crowd supports her decision. Typically, we think of clowns at a circus as silly characters who all follow the group. The fact that we see a clown, cry out of real fear, goes against the grain of what we typically think, which I personally happen to love. This scene teaches readers that there are times where we can be bullied by our friends, that it takes courage to stand up for what is right, and respect is important in all aspects of life.

And as always, the teacher in me gets excited when authors include activities at the end of the book. This book encourages students to draw or make signs about helping those who are hurt. Kids can then share their signs on Instagram @ArtsKindred with the hashtags #ArtsKindred #ADayInTheLifeOfAKid.

I recommend this book for ages P-2, and I think it would be a great text to springboard a discussion about bullying in early elementary.

To purchase the book, click here.

 

Merry Fairy Birthday Book Review

September is always a big month in my world, with the start of a new school year and Molly’s birthday. I’m still kind of shocked that I’m going to have a three year old (eek), but not gonna lie I do like sharing all of my favorite things with her at this age. She has recently gotten into Disney princesses and has been requesting to be read to more often. Today’s book is the perfect combination of all things Molly.

Merry Fairy Birthday, by Melissa Spencer, is a delightful story about a birthday girl receiving colorful fairy presents.

First, I really love how girly this book is. The little girl in the story gets dressed up in a sparkly party gown and is surrounded by fairies. The illustrations are a combination of realistic pictures and hand drawn images, with fabulous colors that make the text engaging. I really wanted to run my fingers over the sequins on the party dress.

The teachermom in me got very excited with the writing style. It is fun and creative with a little bit of rhyming thrown in. I really liked the use of ‘hue’, which is a word not often seen in picture books. I think the vocabulary is a little challenging for a beginner reader to read on their own, but it’s a great read aloud book.

Now to my favorite part…the fairy gifts! It may be my Disney brain or the fact that Molly watched Sleeping Beauty for the first time two weeks ago, but I had an immediate text to media connection. The fairies present the birthday girl with gifts based on colors of the rainbow. Similar to Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, the gifts are qualities for a little girl to use her whole life. I LOVED that the gifts were not material objects, like a tea set or a baby doll, but were things like success and happiness. It leaves readers with a beautiful message and instills self-confidence in young readers. Especially when the birthday girl was given green, which is the gift of curiosity and ambition. It’s very girl power without the punch.

Personally, I think this would make an adorable birthday gift for a little girl. This book will definitely have a home on Molly’s bookshelf (see what else is on her shelf here). I plan on reading Merry Fairy Birthday with Miss Molly this month as we get ready to celebrate her special day.

To purchase the book click here

Ben’s Adventures: A Day at the Beach Book Review

I’m taking a little break from YA and diving back into some picture books. As I’ve mentioned before, I LOVE being part of such a phenomenal book community on social media. Today’s author shared her book in a Facebook group that we are both in, and I instantly knew I wanted to share this title.

Ben’s Adventures: A Day at the Beach by Elizabeth Gerlach, is a heartwarming story about a little boy with Cerebral Palsy who dreams about a day at the beach with his family.

I have to be honest, I had tears in my eyes while I read this picture book. I fell in love with Ben instantly. His positive outlook on life and use of imagination melted my heart. In the first few pages, Ben introduces us to his family (he’s a triplet!), mentions that he has Cerebral Palsy, and explains that he can’t walk or talk. However, that doesn’t stop this little boy from enjoying his family and life.

Ben’s imagination is inspiring. He does not let his limitations keep him from experiencing the sand on his toes or the wind in his hair. One of my favorite pages is when Ben is building a sandcastle with a friend. Ben accidentally kicks one of the towers, and his friend’s reaction is spot on. His friend laughs off the tower destruction and mentions they will come up with a new plan. I love the powerful message of friendship that comes through this page, which encourages readers to be easy going and accomodating.

I also really enjoyed that Ben’s imagination has him spending time with members of his family. He does not spend the day alone, but rather bonds with his immediate family. He flies a kite with his daddy and looks for shells with Ava and Colin. The most touching moment of the story was when Ben’s mommy tucks him in at night. I think little details like this demonstrate to young readers the importance of spending time with family, and the fun and memories that can be had.

I think this book would be a phenomenal addition to a home library and a classroom library for preschool and kindergarten. I love that it promotes acceptance, hope, and diversity. I’m so excited for Ben’s next adventure.

For more information about Ben and the book, please click here.

 

Meet Prank Book Review

As a reader, I tend to gravitate towards unique characters who have a lot of personality. It’s truly an art when an author can capture and communicate this to readers.

Meet Prank by K.C. Light and illustrated by Elena Mogi is about a cat who gets into mischief. The text is meant for kids ages 3-8, with younger ones listening and older ones practicing their reading. Fun fact: this book made it to the #1 bestseller spot in New Release in Toddler and Baby Poetry Category last week!!

Before the story even starts, Light has a letter to parents on the first page. This quick note provides parents with some great information about the text, including the structure of the story. I honestly don’t know any other book for this age group that provides this extra guidance for families, but the mom and Reading Specialist in me is LOVING it.

Light also includes a little background on our main character. This extra bit of pre-reading made my teacher heart jump for joy. Right away readers get a sense of Prank’s personality. “He thinks he is Siamese, because it sounds cool and boosts his confidence.” The humor is spot on and allows kids to relate to Prank.

The structure of the text is easy to follow, complete with rhyming, figurative language and sight words. The amount of text on the page is not overwhelming for younger readers, and does not make the text feel “babyish” to kids in first or second grade.

I have a tendency to focus on making inferences when I teach, probably because of my years in middle school. As a reader, I noticed myself making inferences on the second page of the story based on the picture of Prank on the bed. This added an additional level of humor that actually made me smile.

One other feature that this book has that I have never seen before is outtakes at the end of the story. In looking at these pictures, kids can practice their inference making skills and characterization.

This book would be a great addition to a classroom and home library. I can’t wait to read about Prank’s next adventure!

You can purchase this book on Amazon as an e-book (free with Kindle Unlimited right now) and in paperback. Check it out here: https://www.amazon.com/Adventures-Prank-Cat-Meet-ebook/dp/B07R7WXGWK/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=prank+the+cat&qid=1559325990&s=gateway&sr=8-1

For more information check out these social media sites:

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/prank.the.cat2019/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/prankthecat/

Website: http://www.kcdelights.com

 

 

Spring Song Book Review

 

As a mom of a toddler, I’m always looking for quality children’s books with multi-sensory elements to help keep her engaged. Instinctively, I go for touchy-feely books, or noisy books so she can press buttons.

Spring Song by Anetta Kotowicz and illustrated by Nina Ezhik, is a delightful, multi-sensory story to use with preschool aged children. Not only is it a picture book, but there is also a Youtube playlist to accompany the reading, in addition to some great crafts and activity ideas.

I’ve been teaching figurative language with my students for the last nine years, so the teacher in me gets excited when I see these elements used in any type of text. The use of sensory details and onomatopoeia makes this a super fun story to read! When reading this with preschool children, I would have students repeat the onomatopoeias after me because there are so many. It gives kids a chance to practice saying new words and makes them feel like they’re also reading the story.

In my experience as a Reading Specialist, a lot of my students benefit from additional auditory support when interacting with a text. The Spring Song playlist on Youtube provides young readers with four different songs that correlate to the story. Songs are available on Arts Kindred Magic YouTube channel under Spring Song playlist: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLVltdElxMWR0dMxq1sVmv3iKhgJ7_m2N9

The e-text does have an icon to click which takes listeners right to the song for that page. Readers can sing along with the story. This is a fabulous way to introduce little ones to reading! If you want to practice reading skills, I suggest reading this text on a tablet and pointing to the words in the songs while singing.

A great surprise is what is included at the end of the book for parents and teachers. There are pages of additional craft ideas and a game. The game involves kids doing an action (clap your hands, act like a bird, etc). This is perfect for a preschool classroom!

Interested in this fabulous book? Check it out on Amazon.

 

For additional texts and information, feel free to check out www.ArtsKindred.com . Summer Song was just published and there are ones for Fall and Winter!

 

Aidan the Wonder Kid Book Review

Through an amazing Facebook group, I have had the pleasure to connect with so many great children’s book authors over the last few weeks. Within the first 24 hours of joining the group I was chatting with the fabulous Colleen Brunetti.

Aidan the Wonder Kid by Colleen Brunetti, and illustrated by Dan Carsten, is a picture book that explains the “secret energy powers” of a little boy named Aidan, and how sometimes those powers disappear because of the foods he eats. As readers, we witness Aidan change his diet, experiment in the kitchen, and continue to be A WONDER KID WHO CAN’T BE STOPPED!

One of my favorite aspects is the characterization of Aidan. Right away kids can bond with him because he has the same interests and hobbies that they do. My favorite is that he prefers to front flip across the couch instead of strolling through the living room. He has lots of happy, positive energy and loves to go on adventures. When he gets sick and not able to do all of his favorite things, the reader does feel for Aidan.

I was also a HUGE fan of the illustrations for this book! The story describes Aidan as an extraordinary little boy, but with hints of super powers, which can also be seen in the illustrations. I really enjoyed the realistic cartoon look and the creativity. On one of the pages, mom and Aidan are mad scientists in the kitchen, and the illustrations do a beautiful job showing their experiments. Aidan Science Experiment

For me, the main theme of the book is that health issues don’t have to stop a person from enjoying life. Just because Aidan has food allergies it doesn’t mean he can’t still go to birthday parties (he may just have to bring his own dessert). By providing his body with what it needs, Aidan can play, jump, and flip just like he always did. I also love that the author included the importance of finding a support system, in this instance a group of other kids with food allergies. I think this really shows kids that food allergies are not uncommon and they should not be afraid of them.

Not only does this picture book have a fantastic theme, it also has lesson plans!! This totally made my teacher heart happy. Brunetti did a truly wonderful job creating Common Core aligned lesson plans for kids in grades 1-3, which focus on higher order thinking skills. I’m a huge fan of the discussion guide. It provides super clear directions (great for parents to use at home) and opens the door for meaningful conversations about food allergies and awareness.

This would be a lovely book and activity in a preschool to lower elementary grade classroom.

For more information about the book and author, feel free to check out these sites:

Newsletter signup: http://eepurl.com/cQeR9j       Website: http://www.colleenbrunetti.com

Facebook: FB.com/CoachColleenBrunetti             Instagram:Instagram.com/ColleenBrunetti

Pinterest: Pinterest.com/ColleenBrunetti