Archive for September 30, 2015

Maple & Willow Apart

Written and Illustrated by Lori Nichols

Friends can be found just about anywhere, including your imagination. When Maple heads off to big girl school, Willow is lonely and bored for a little while. Then she makes up an imaginary friend based on the acorns she and Maple played with before school started. As Maple comes home with exciting stories about kindergarten, Willow has stories of her own about adventures with Pip.

The pencil drawn, digitally colored illustrations clearly show each emotion experienced by siblings as one heads off to school. Parents, librarians and teachers will find this text useful in helping the youngest students cope with the separation. First grade readers will recognize the signs of fall, and younger children will love the illustrations as this story is read aloud. Teachers can meet core standards of science while also addressing the feelings of those brothers and sisters left at home. Stories like this help us all understand each other a little bit better.

Art teachers of older students can use this as an excellent example of color blending, as well as the intricacies of showing emotion with the simplest of pencil strokes.

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  • Maple & WillowTitle: Maple & Willow Apart
  • Author/Illustrator: Lori Nichols
  • Publisher: Nancy Paulsen /Penguin, 2015
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • ISBN: 978-0-399-16753-9
  • Genre: Picture Book
  • Grade level: PreK to 1

The Best Parts of Christmas

Written and Illustrated by Bethanie Deeney Murguia

Remember when you enjoyed the family Christmas tree so much that you hated to see the tree leave? Even when it had lost all the needles and turned into a fire hazard? This is the premise for this fun new book. The author follows Fritz and his dog as he and his parents select a tree at a farm. Fritz is a little confused, since rule #5 of the house rules is “No branches, sticks, or twigs allowed indoors.” But he doesn’t bring it up. He is in charge of the ornaments. The usual ornaments must be places close together so they can be close to their friends. Quickly, he notices anything can be an ornament, so the tree ends up beautifully decorated. And the decorating continues with cookies, candy canes, and many gifts. Fritz loves the tree so much, he wishes for it to always stay. Of course, it can’t stay, but Fritz can decorate one branch in his room. And that way, he can remember. The illustrations add to the fun by showing the personalities of Fritz, his dog, and his parents.

First graders can practice their literacy skills while learning about holiday traditions.

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  • Best Parts of ChristmasTitle: The Best Parts of Christmas
  • Author/Illustrator: Bethanie Deeney Murguia
  • Published: Candlewick, 2015
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardback, 32 pages
  • Grade Level: PreK to 2
  • Genre: Fiction, Holidays, Family
  • ISBN: 978-0-7636-7556-1


Clothesline Clues to Sports People Play

Written by Kathryn Heling and Deborah Hembrook
Illustrated by Andy Robert Davies

Kids love sports, riddles, and colorful pictures. This new book combines them all. Readers are given a four line, rhyming riddle about the pictures on the double page spread showing uniform pieces on a clothesline. The appropriate other pieces of sports equipment are on the ground. The following page gives the answer to the riddle and shows the particular game in progress.

Children will love guessing from picture clues and looking to see if the category of sports uniforms and equipment are complete. Core curriculum standards of literacy will be met using this book in preschool, kindergarten, first grade, or in ESL classes. Teachers, librarians and daycare providers will want to add this book to their collection. Surely, kids will return to this book time and time again. Second grade readers will enjoy reading these riddles to younger siblings at home.

The characters represent a diverse group of children and the sports represented include common, as well as uncommon, sports and will broaden children’s understandings of unfamiliar sports.

Buy on Amazon

  • ClotheslineTitle: Clothesline Clues to Sports People Play
  • Author: Kathryn Heling and Deborah Hembrook
  • Illustrator: Andy Robert Davies
  • Publisher: Charlesbridge, 2015
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • ISBN: 978-1-58089-602-4
  • Genre: Nonfiction Picture Book
  • Grade level: PreK to 1