Awake Beautiful Child

AwakeBeautifulChild

Image Credit: McSweeney’s, Amy Krouse Rosenthal/Gracia Lam

 

Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s new book is sweet and clever. All of her books are very clever so I’m not surprised at how awesome this one is. Awake Beautiful Child follows the day in the life of several children and is an “ABC” book in that she writes the story only using words that begin with the letters A, B and C; “All Begins Cheerily” and leads to “Amusing Breakfast Chatter” with “Apples, Bananas and Cantaloupe.” And so the story continues with several more children as we learn how they spend their day. Rosenthal even begins the book (check the copyright page) with “Alert: Boring Copyright” Haha. Children are also encouraged to look closely at the illustrations to find more words that start with A, B, and C; this book is excellent for multiple readings and exploration.

Lam’s illustrations are very quaint and retro-inspired. For every child’s story, she sticks with a color palate and her illustrations seem to be a combination of screen print, digital and hand drawings. For the human figures, she focuses mostly on profiles, with their large beautiful eyes as the focus. One thing I would’ve LOVED to see in this book is more children and families of color. The story follows multiple children, so it would’ve been very easy to show not only diversity in daily activities but diversity in children’s ethnicities as well. I hope that Lam’s next children’s book is more diverse.

I just might add this book to my favorite “ABC” book list along with Take Away the A. You will enjoy the calm illustrations, the excellent vocabulary (so many great words!) and the thrill of looking for “ABC” words in the illustrations. Be sure to check out Awake Beautiful Child with your child.

Recommended for: Toddlers to 1st/2nd Grade
Great for: ABC Learning, Colors, Family, Vocabulary
Book Info: Awake Beautiful Child by Amy Krouse Rosenthal/Illustrated by Gracia Lam, 2015 McSweeney’s, ISBN: 9781938073922

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The Circus Ship

Image Credit: Candlewick Press, Chris Van Dusen

Image Credit: Candlewick Press, Chris Van Dusen

 

The Circus Ship is inspired by the real shipwreck of the Royal Tar in 1836 off the coast of Maine (author’s note included in the back of the book). Van Dusen writes the story in rhyme which makes it excellent for reading aloud. There are also lots of great vocabulary words like thrashing, helm, daft, bothersomebedraggled, menagerie!

The story begins with a ship carrying fifteen circus animals bound for their next show in Boston. Despite the dangerous weather, the mean Circus Master pushes the captain on through the fog. The ship crashes and the animals are left to fend for themselves in the waves. Luckily they swim to shore but unluckily, the people of the small town they land in are annoyed by their presence! One night, a shed goes up in flames, one animal saves the day and in the process, changes the minds of the townspeople. There’s a page where all the animals hide from the Circus Master and you have to look carefully to find each animal in the illustrations; it’s so very clever and interactive!

Van Dusen is a masterful illustrator; I love his attention to detail and characterization. Pay attention to how sad the animals look while aboard the circus ship compared to how happy they are to be accepted as members of the community. The gouache paintings are lush; this is the “perfect” animal book and your child will enjoy pointing them out. I love the page where the Circus Master stomps into town, legs astride, fingers pressed into his chest, with a haughty expression on his face. The Circus Ship is an excellent story of community and friendship that is sure to please and become a favorite.

Recommended for: All Ages
Great for: Adventure, Friendship, Read-Aloud, Animals, Community, Vocabulary
Book Info: The Circus Ship by Chris Van Dusen, 2009 Candlewick Press, ISBN: 9780763655921

Ten, Nine, Eight

Image Credit: Tupelo Books (HarperCollins), Molly Bang

Image Credit: Tupelo Books (HarperCollins), Molly Bang

While browsing the web, I saw the cover of this book and immediately had flashbacks. I’m a very visual person and the last time I’d seen this cover was when I very little. I’d completely forgotten about this book, and so, I set out to find it.

Molly Bang covers a lot of important basics here; love, family, counting and warm illustrations. Her oil illustrations really shine and you can’t help but smile while looking at them. The cover illustration is very reminiscent of Goodnight Moon in composition. I especially recommend this book in board book form because it is the perfect size for toddlers to hold. Formulaic, descriptive lines like “Ten small toes all washed and warm” create a comfortable feeling and little ones will enjoy going to bed with this book.

We see a black father loving his child. This is important because it isn’t depicted often, in all types of media. This little book celebrates their love for each other. Regardless of ethnicity, the father-daughter relationship is underrepresented in picture books (but luckily that is changing). Ten, Nine, Eight is a great book for counting, vocabulary and bedtime and it just happens to feature a beautiful, black family.  🙂

Recommended for: Toddlers
Great for: Counting, Vocabulary, Bedtime, Family, Diversity, We Need Diverse Books, Father-Daughter, African-American
Book Info: Ten, Nine, Eight by Molly Bang, 1983 Tupelo Books (HarperCollins), ISBN: 9780688149017

Hooray for Fish!

Image Credit: Candlewick Press, Lucy Cousins

Image Credit: Candlewick Press, Lucy Cousins

Lucy Cousins is great. She really understands what kids like. Hooray for Fish! has a little bit of everything and her illustrations are so vibrant and fun! If her name isn’t ringing a bell, she is most famous for her Maisy book series (the little white mouse). I discovered this book in one of my elementary school classrooms in Korea. My Kindergarteners loved it very much; they especially loved the page where you have to count the fish. The students in front always got up and touched the page to count them out loud.

Though this is mostly a concept book, little fish swims through the ocean to find the fish he loves the most and along the way, he meets all types of fish. He even meets an Ele-fish (yes…an elephant-fish)!! After meeting many new friends, he finally finds his mama fish and they share a fishy-kiss. I recommend the large, hardcover edition of this book but it’s also nice as a board book. Teachers, this book has great lesson potential. Your students can create their own fantasy fish or you can assign opposite words to pairs and they work together to make two fish. Your classroom will be full of colorful fish. Hooray!

Recommended for: Toddlers and Kindergarteners
Great for: Colors, Counting, Vocabulary, Opposites, Rhyme
Book Info: Hooray for Fish! by Lucy Cousins, 2005 Candlewick Press, ISBN: 9780763627416