‘Giraffe Problems’ by Jory John & Illustrated by Lane Smith: A Picture Book Kids LOVE!

giraffe

Don’t just take my word for it, get a copy of “Giraffe Problems” by Jory John with chuckle-inducing illustrations by the talented Lane Smith. Read it to any child between three and thirteen. All will love it: guaranteed.

But don’t get the book only for the laughs. It’s much more than just another humorous picture book for entertaining children. The story of the giraffe with the really, really long neck, who doesn’t like his neck at all, will resonate with kids. Edward, the giraffe, laments his misfortune and wishes he had a neck like a zebra, an elephant, or a lion.

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Five Nonfiction Picture Books for Kids of Many Ages — From Monsters and Animals to Historical Figures and the Flight to the Moon

“Vincent Can’t Sleep: Van Gogh Paints the Night Sky” by Barb Rosenstock and Mary Grandpré  shares with young readers the lonely, often tormented life of Vincent Van vincentGogh. Each page begins with “Vincent can’t sleep…” and begins with his childhood when at the age of nine or ten he once walked at night six miles from his home in the Netherlands to Belgium where he was “found with torn clothes and muddy shoes.” The author includes that he was moody, “Excited. Bored. Eager. Lazy. Explosive. Shy. His many-colored moods scare the customers — and he’s forced to go.” This is a wonderful book for encouraging discussion about being different. Van Gogh was different. He’s described as “A sensitive boy. A hidden genius. A brilliant artist.” But according to the Author’s Note, he may have only sold five paintings while he was alive. Questions to discuss can include what makes someone successful? Was Van Gogh successful? Was he crazy? Why are his paintings so revered and so valuable? A beautiful book about a brilliant — and tormented — artist. (Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers)
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‘My Father’s Words’ by Patricia MacLachlan: A Simple Children’s Book with Not-So-Simple Thoughts

fathers words

“My Father’s Words” by Patricia MacLachlan is a beautifully written, emotionally wrenching story that had me crying through my lunch as I finished it. It’s a small, 133-page book set in large type with wide spacing. It’s easy to read, but much harder to really appreciate.

This is not a book that one should skim to just get the plot and then move on. MacLachlan includes phrases so thoughtful that the reader is compelled to reread them and think about them. It’s a perfect book for a classroom teacher to use as a read aloud, so that those special paragraphs and moments can be shared and discussed. But be warned, finishing this book without shedding a tear is an almost insurmountable feat.

The story, on its face, is simple. Fiona and Finn’s father, a psychologist and a wonderful dad, dies in a car accident. He swerves to avoid a child who has run into the street and is himself killed. The whole family is bereft.

At the suggestion of Luke, a close friend and neighbor, Fiona and Finn begin to volunteer at the local animal shelter, where they learn that while you comfort a shelter dog (or any dog, for that matter), the dog is also comforting you.

The ending of the book is perfect — so perfect that even if a reader sees the ending coming, it doesn’t matter. It’s beautifully written and extremely touching.

While it’s a simple story that third grade students could read and comprehend, older students will find it easier to understand the underlying truths that MacLachlan shares about life, death, memories, love, healing, and, of course, dogs. MacLachlan knows what most dog lovers know — that to have a dog companion is to never feel alone. Another truth my students know? To pet a dog is magic — it comforts and heals wounds and makes the sun shine on the darkest rainy day.

Please note: This review is based on the advance reader’s edition provided by Katherine Tegen Books, the publisher, for review purposes.

Great Giveaway of Picture Book ‘Fiona the Hippo’ by Richard Cowdrey

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Hey, folks! Zonderkidz is partnering with me for a fabulous giveaway!

Here’s a chance to win a copy of Richard Cowdrey’s fabulous picture book, “Fiona the Hippo,” about the plucky premature hippo at the Cincinnati Zoo. (Read my glowing review here.) In addition to the picture book, you’ll receive an adorable Fiona stuffed animal, and a Fiona sippy cup! All courtesy of partner Zonderkidz.

prize package

“Fiona the Hippo, by New York Times bestselling artist Richard Cowdrey of Bad Dog, Marley fame, tells the story of Fiona, the adorable internet sensation from the Cincinnati Zoo who captured hearts around the world with her inspiring story and plucky personality.

Born prematurely, at only 29 pounds, Fiona was not expected to live. But her spunk and determination helped her thrive and become a happy, healthy hippopotamus. With every challenge she faced, Fiona let out a snort, wiggled her ears, and said “I’ve got this.” And she did! In this delightful story, inspired by the real adventure of this heroic hippo, join Fiona and her lovable animal friends at the zoo as she is introduced to the world in this whimsical and inspiring tale of perseverance and friendship.”

During a very recent trip to Kenya, I had the opportunity to see many hippos at Masai Mara. Most were in the Masai Mara river, but we caught sight of one walking along the dirt road. She was huge and pink and grey, and we loved getting to see her!

Be sure to enter to win your own “Fiona the Hippo” book and more!

Fiona’s fabulous giveaway! 

‘Fiona the Hippo’ by Richard Cowdrey Is a Picture Book About Not Giving up (and It’s Adorable!)

fiona

In “Fiona the Hippo,” a picture book by Richard Cowdrey, readers who didn’t know about the baby hippo who was born six weeks early will get to see how the staff at the Cincinnati Zoo cared for her and helped keep her safe. The story is lovely, and Cowdrey cleverly has Fiona say, “I’ve got this!” for each new accomplishment.

That’s a great catch-phrase for kids. Fiona’s story teaches that all new skills take practice — sometimes lots of practice — but if a child is taught determination and perseverance and says, “I’ve got this!” the chances of success are multiplied tenfold.

Fiona got it, and she was reunited with her parents. Cowdrey’s story of Fiona’s start is a picture book that kids will want to read over and over. They will know when to chime in for Fiona, “I’ve got this!” and one might hope that it becomes the new mantra for a generation.

Learn more at Fiona the Hippo. Watch her adorable video on YouTube.

Please note: This review is based on the final, hardcover book provided by Big Honcho Media for review purposes.

Middle Grade Novel ‘Strays Like Us’ Lovely Story About Child and Dog in Need of Help

strays

“Strays Like Us” by Cecilia Galante is an often heart-wrenching story of a child and a dog, both in need. Fred, short for Winifred, lived with her mother who had an addiction problem. Although her mother managed to keep a job at a drug store, her behavior and financial problems meant Fred’s life was never predictable. Her mother constantly told Fred how much she needed Fred, and how she relied on Fred.

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‘Jurassic World: The Evolution of Claire’ by Tess Sharpe: Perfect for Sci-fi and Adventure Fans

evolution of claire

“Jurassic World: The Evolution of Claire” by Tess Sharpe is a prequel to the story of the two most recent “Jurassic World” movies. In this book, seasoned author Sharpe creates the story of how Claire Dearing, who becomes the park’s operations manager, first gets involved in the Jurassic world.

Dearing is in college when she applies for an internship with the brilliant Mr. Masrani, who not only is fabulously wealthy, but whose genius is (re)creating dinosaurs and a theme park where people will be able to see dinosaurs. When she is offered the internship, it’s her dream come true.

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From Robins to Band-aids: Nonfiction Picture Books Perfect for Summer Reading

Just because it’s summer and the sun is shining doesn’t mean it’s time to stop reading. Not with all the fabulous books out there that children will love and that will keep them learning new information. From animals who build shelters to the man who invents a way to make bandages to help his accident-prone wife, here are a bunch of books to make your summer a bit more interesting!

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