Stanley’s Colors

Written and Illustrated by William Bee

Stanley continues his adventures by exploring the world of color. Again, Stanley’s latest exploits are meant mostly for younger children, but the concepts are can also important for children old enough to read the simple text on their own. The theme centers around modes of transportation this time. Each two-page spread highlights one color and where it might appear in the real world. Stanley fixes his red car. He delivers flowers in an orange truck. He rides on his yellow motorcycle. Stanley and Little Woo ride in a green airplane. Stanley fishes from a blue motorboat. His choo choo train is purple. Their hot air balloon is pink. His earth-flattening steamroller is brown. The last very colorful spread combines all the colors, encouraging the reader to explore for colors and combinations. The simple illustrations help make it easier to look for the colors.
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  • Stanleys ColorsTitle: Stanley’s Color
  • Author/Illustrator: William Bee
  • Publisher: Peachtree Publishers, September 1, 2016
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Board Book, 20 pages
  • Grade Level: PreK to 1
  • Genre: Basic concepts
  • ISBN: 978-1-56145-948-3

Stanley’s Shapes

Written and Illustrated by William Bee

Stanley has been many places and done many jobs, but now he’s getting down to the nitty gritty. Although Stanley’s exploration of shapes is wonderful for younger children, he can also reinforce concepts for children old enough to read the simple text on their own. Each two-page spread highlights one shape and shows how it’s represented in the real world. Stanley and Little Woo’s suitcases are rectangles. Their tent is a triangle. Hattie’s window is a square. Bicycle wheels are circles. Kites are diamonds. Watermelons are ovals. A starfish is shaped like a star. Cars on a ride are semicircles. The last spread encourages the reader to find the jumbled shapes, which could easily extend to finding those shapes in the world around the reader. Bee’s simple illustrations provide a great and non-distracting backdrop to the idea of exploring simple shapes.

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  • Stanleys ShapesTitle: Stanley’s Shapes
  • Author/Illustrator: William Bee
  • Publisher: Peachtree Publishers, September 1, 2016
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Board Book, 20 pages
  • Grade Level: PreK to 1
  • Genre: Basic concepts
  • ISBN: 978-1-56145-949-0

Bubble Gum, Bubble Gum in a Dish

Written and Illustrated by Tracey M. Cox

In a world where people still question what good math is, this brand new counting book brings counting and color recognition right into the real world. All the children in the text has access to a bowl of bubble gum balls. In turn, each child picks out the balls of the color he or she wants. Cox shows the bowl and lets the reader count the balls of that color in the bowl, among the other colors. The child then blows a bubble matching the ball color and growing progressively bigger with each new number. The highly repetitive text is perfect for younger children and makes independent reading a strong possibility, especially for first graders. Reading activities can definitely include more counting in dishes. Coins, colored blocks, or jelly beans.

The simple style of the illustrations enhances the simple concepts presented in the text. These are concepts that provide a solid foundation for future learning. Even the amusing author photo at the end has a great big bubble the author presumably blew. Do we know how many gum balls she chewed?

  • Bubble Gum Bubble Gum in a DishTitle: Bubble Gum, Bubble Gum in a Dish
  • Author/Illustrator: Tracey M. Cox
  • Published: Guardian Angel Publishing, 2016
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Paperback, 32 pages
  • Grade Level: PreK to 1
  • Genre: Nonfiction, Counting, Colors
  • ISBN: 9781616337711

 

 

Little One

Written and Illustrated by Jo Weaver

Mother Bear comes out of her cave in the spring with a sleepy, staggering cub by her side. It is a quiet story of looking around our huge wonderful world to see all the wonderful things the world has to offer. But this book offers very little. It is just about a walk in the woods, being gentle with friends then returning to the cave for another long sleep.

Nothing happens as far as plot. The cub is just a follow along character except for his one try at catching a fish. While it is as comfortable as a quiet walk with a friend, it is a very slow book for young, energetic readers. Save this one for right before nap or bedtime.

There is a tiny reference to the changing seasons, but the book is done entirely in black and white so only the words convey any passage of time. The artist used black charcoal to make interesting images, and stunning backgrounds. They almost look stamped upon the rough textured background. The book does have very heavy paper which probably adds to its high price.

While this is an interesting book to peruse, it is not recommended for school or library purchase due to its high price and low expectancy for being reread. It really would not satisfy any core curriculum standards for teachers or librarians. Parents might be able to use it for a quieting down kind of story.

  • Little OneTitle: Little One
  • Author/Illustrator: Jo Weaver
  • Publisher: Peachtree, 2016
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format: Hardcover, 24 pages
  • ISBN: 978-1-56145-924-7
  • Genre: Picture Book
  • Grade level: PreK to 1

 

 

Playing from the Heart

Written and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds

A lot of themes swirl around in this touching tale of a father and son. Raj was attracted to the piano even before he could reach the pedals.

Raj noticed that he could mix the notes the way he mixed his watercolors.

His father loved the sound of his song so much that he got Raj a teacher and encouraged practice. The song changed so much that the piano eventually fell silent. Raj went to live and work in the city but returned when his father fell ill. All the father wanted was the song that Raj had lost as a boy.

Raj’s father closed his eyes and savored the lingering notes.

Beautifully and lovingly illustrated, this book almost plays the song for the reader. It speaks to the love between father and son and of music coming from the heart. First graders will love being shown that they can create unfettered.

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  • Playing from the HeartTitle: Playing from the Heart
  • Author/Illustrator: Peter H. Reynolds
  • Published: Candlewick Press, 2016
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • Grade Level: K up
  • Genre: Picture book, Family
  • ISBN: 978-0-7636-7892-0

Grandad’s Island

Written and Illustrated by Benji Davies

Beautifully and lavishly illustrated, this great new book takes the reader on a journey to a distant island. When young Syd lets himself into his grandfather’s house, he finds Grandad in the attic amongst the old boxes. Grandad shows Syd a steel door that leads them onto a large ship headed for a tropical island. There, they find cool breezes, shelter, and friendly animals. They discover many wonders, including pools and waterfalls. Syd and Grandad hug for the last time. Grandad remains on the island, and Syd steers the ship home. The next day, Syd discovers that Grandad has not returned but has sent him a picture of the island and his new friends. And the big metal door they used to get to the ship is gone.

Whether enjoyed with an adult or independently, the story stimulates the imagination and highlights how to share stories and good times with others. With deeper meaning, it is an allegory of loss, eloquently handled.

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  • Grandads IslandTitle: Grandad’s Island
  • Author/Illustrator: Benji Davies
  • Published: Candlewick Press, 2016
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • Grade Level: PreK to 3
  • Genre: Picture book, Imagination, Loss
  • ISBN: 978-0-7636-9005-2

 

In the Wind

Written by Elizabeth Spurr
Illustrated by Manelle Oliphant

This is the first in a series for youngsters about the weather. The first thing kids think of related to wind is a kite and the fun they can have. In soft water colors, the reader sees a typical middle class neighborhood on a beautiful day. A little girl, along with her dog and mom, set out on a windy, sunny day for the park. We see her tie on the string and the tail as she begins to fly the kite. The trees show a stiff wind in the park. The kite swoops and loops until it catches in a tree, which horrifies the girl. She gets the kite loose, but the kite breaks free and the wind dies unexpectedly. The girl is obviously disappointed. The girl finds the kite again near home, and, with her mother’s help, she gets it down. But the wind will be back some day. Oliphant’s illustrations help the story along at every turn.

Kindergartners and first graders can practice their literacy skills through independent reading. This is also a fun read aloud for even younger kids.

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  • In the WindTitle: In the Wind
  • Author: Elizabeth Spurr
  • Illustrator: Manelle Oliphant
  • Published: Peachtree Publishers, 2016
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 22 pages
  • Grade Level: PreK to 2
  • Genre: Board book, Weather
  • ISBN: 978-1-56143-854-7

Super Happy Magic Forest

Written and Illustrated by Matty Long

Missing magic crystals and an evil doer remove the joy out of the happy forest. Only the bravest will be sent to great goblin mountain to get the crystals back where they belong. This colorful, glossy book is very busy with crowded double-paged spreads designed to look like maps for our wanderers. All along the trail, dangers and challenges abound.

Young readers and listeners will enjoy picking out the characters reminiscent of other well-loved stories from the unicorn to the Smeagol look-a-like polishing his gold ring. Children will study the illustrations and enjoy the humorous one liners, some of which only the adults will understand.  Teachers and librarians can use it to introduce the epic form of storytelling, while fulfilling

It is a classic epic tale format, though a skeleton of the literacy and/or English standards of the core curriculum. Students would enjoy adding to the difficulties of the quest, or inventing a new one either on their own or as a group project.

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  • Super Happy Magic ForestTitle: Super Happy Magic Forest
  • Author/Illustrator: Matty Long
  • Publisher: Scholastic, 2016
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • ISBN: 978-0-545-86059-8
  • Genre: Picture Book
  • Grade level: PreK to 2

 

How Do Dinosaurs Stay Friends?

Written by Jane Yolen
Illustrated by Mark Teague

How do dinosaurs know so many things about kids?

Once again, Jane Yolen and Mark Teague team up to compare the feelings of dinosaurs as if they were regular kids. And once again, it is spot on. Jane’s poem about what happens to friends when they get in a fight goes through the common feelings of anger, resentment, hurt, and ultimately forgiveness. The ideas as well as the drawings provide giggles and ideas for handling such a situation.

The words are easy to read with large, dark font. Children will be able to read it back to parents or teachers after only a couple of repetitions. However, the illustrations are so wonderful, children will delight in studying them over and over. Teachers can use this particular book in the series to meet core curriculum standards in literacy while reinforcing cause and effect, picture clues, main idea, or sequencing skills.

This is a wonderful addition to a series of books librarians, parents and teachers all enjoy. Even though, there have been many of these books both the text and the illustrations are able to offer a fresh, new experience.

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  • How Do Dinosaurs Stay FriendsTitle: How Do Dinosaurs Stay Friends?
  • Author: Jane Yolen
  • Illustrator: Mark Teague
  • Publisher: Blue Sky Press/Scholastic, 2016
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • ISBN: 978-0-545-82934-2
  • Genre: Picture Book
  • Grade level: PreK to 1
  • Extras: Beginning and back end pages show dinosaurs with their proper scientific names.

Every Day Birds

Written by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater
Illustrated by Dylan Metrano

Glorious cut paper illustrations of common birds jump from the pages of this delightful new poetic nonfiction book. The text is simple, with large, bold type. Birds illustrated are correctly portrayed to fit the text as well as their own habitat.

Youngsters hearing it read aloud will love the rhythm and rhyme of the poem. They will quickly learn to identify the birds and will be repeating the poem before long.

This book will be an asset to science teachers in the elementary grades and will fulfill many core curriculum standards for teachers and librarians in the areas of literacy as well as science. The art teacher or classroom teacher might well use this as an example of excellent cut paper art. Children will love making cut art of their own in school or at home to put in books or greeting cards.

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  • Everyday BirdsTitle: Every Day Birds
  • Author: Amy Ludwig VanDerwater
  • Illustrator: Dylan Metrano
  • Publisher: Orchard Books, Imprint of Scholastic, 2016
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • ISBN: 978-0-545-69980-8
  • Genre: Nonfiction Picture Book
  • Grade level: PreK to 3
  • Extras: Back pages provide in-depth information about what each type of bird eats, where it lives, how it looks, or what sounds it makes. The poem is also provided in its entirety on a double paged spread at the back of the book.
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