Monday, October 25, 2010

Nonfiction Monday: Big Babies, Little Babies

Big Babies, Little Babies
published April 2010 by DK Publishing
64 pages (hardcover), children's nonfiction

You and your kids will ooh and ahh and mostly aww your way through this book. I surely did! This collection of animal babies is all about the photographs. Each two-page spread features a different baby, including bears, dolphins, elephants, giraffes, penguins, monkeys, and much more. The photographs (a collection of stock images) drive the text in this book, with thought bubbles for the babies and captions that describe a small aspect of the baby's life.

The details in this book are what really sold me on it. And the organization. Each spread contains a large, bold, unique title with two or three sentences of description. The rest of the text is written in a smaller font size and serves as caption or thought bubble. Also, the spreads contain a dominant background color which is pulled from the images and also serves to outline the text and photo boxes. The page numbers wouldn't be complete without a paw print, webbed foot, or other stamp to match the  animal.

I have every intention of sharing this book with students in the library as a read-aloud. I probably won't read the whole book, or every single word on each page, but I will definitely hit some of the especially aww-worthy pages. This one might even work well using a document camera to project it on the board for enlarged images. Tie into teaching about how to read nonfiction text, what's a caption, text box, photograph, etc. Oh, the curricular connections are endless.

Check out more Nonfiction Monday posts at the round-up, hosted this week at Write About Now.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Monster picture books

The Scariest Monster in the World written by Lee Weatherly, illustrated by Algy Craig Hall
published September 2009 by Boxer

This monster would be hugely scary if he didn't have one little dilemma - he has the hiccups. And the poor thing just doesn't know what to do about it! He tries everything he can think of, but there's one cure that he can't try on his own - scare the hiccups away! Looks like he'll need some help with this one...
Big Scary Monster by Thomas Docherty
published July 2010 by Candlewick

Big Scary Monster loves to play BOO! at the top of the mountain where the animals are small and afraid. But they've learned to hide from the monster, so he wanders down the mountain to find other animals to scare. Trouble is, the animals at the bottom of the mountain are rather large and like to play BOO! too. Frightened away, the monster heads back up the mountain in search of someone to play with. Lucky for him, the animals are understanding and know that he just needs a friend.

Leonardo the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems
published September 2005 by Hyperion

Is this everyone's favorite lovable monster book? It sure is mine! Leonardo is, you guessed it, a terrible monster. He's never been able to scare anyone. Until one day. He spies a weak-looking boy, and he finally works up the courage to do it. He scares the tuna salad right out of this boy! Success! But he's not feeling very good about himself. Indeed, he decides it might be better to befriend the boy instead of scare him.
Even Monsters Need Haircuts by Matthew McElligott
published July 2010 by Walker & Co

This book has been making the blog rounds and for good reason. What a wonderful idea for a monster story! In a very matter-of-fact tone, we meet a boy who has inherited his father's profession, that of a barber. But the boy's shop is only open at nighttime, when the monsters come out, because, hey, monsters need haircuts too. The monsters are generally wary of humans but they know the boy well, so he's okay. Except that one night, it seems that a human stumbles in for a haircut... How will the monsters react?

The Monster Princess written by D.J. MacHale, illustrated by Alexandra Boiger
published August 2010 by Simon & Schuster

Every little girl wishes she could be a princess, and monster little girls are no exception. Lala the gnome sets out for the castle and finds the princesses' room empty - oh, what luxury! She tries on dresses and jewels and stares at her pretty reflection in the mirror. But when the princesses discover a monster in their room, they are none too happy... until Lala shares how much she'd like to be a princess just like them. A sweet story with a "love yourself" message at the end.

Welcome to Monster Town by Ryan Heshka
published July 2010 by Henry Holt & Co

When the sun sets, it's time for the monster day to begin. Each page describes "a day in the life of..." - for example, "The ghost writers cover the news" and "King Kong climbs tall buildings as he makes them." Interesting premise and vivid illustrations, but I wished for more of a storyline.

Got any monster favorites of your own? Please share!


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Read recently

Sometimes I just don't have the energy or thoughts enough to devote to one book, so this is a nice way to catch up on what I've been reading. For you and for me!

The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, and June by Robin Benway
published August 2010 by Razorbill
256 pages (hardcover), YA

I loved Benway's first novel, Audrey, Wait! so yes, I was a little disappointed with her second. April, May, and June are sisters, one year apart each in high school, and they are all recently discovering that they have special powers. April sees the future, May disappears, and June reads thoughts. While April and May are perfectly fine with blending in at school, the youngest sister June wants to be popular. So of course June uses her mind-reading abilities to turn the popular girl's friends against her so that she can get in her good graces instead. But April disapproves of the girls using their powers for selfish reasons and tries to be the responsible older sister by suggesting they use their talents for good and not evil.

Okay, I have to stop there because I'm getting bored just writing about it. Sigh. It wasn't a boring book, really. But it wasn't all that engaging either. The characters were bland, besides having special powers, and the plot either didn't go anywhere or went too many places - I can't decide which. Maybe I just had too high of hopes for this book, but it just didn't do anything for me.

The Body at the Tower (The Agency #2) by Y.S. Lee
published August 2010 by Candlewick
352 pages (hardcover), YA

I liked the first book in this series and saw endless possibilities of where it could go. This book went to a strange, unexpected place. I know that I say quite a bit that I'm all about the characters in a book and don't care much for plot. But I also can't read a book if the plot is so boring and distracting from the characters. And that's what I felt here.

Mary has a new case at the Agency. Dress as an apprenticing boy to gain access to the Big Ben worksite to solve the mystery of an unexplained death. Yeah, what else can I say? It certainly didn't grab me, but I read it anyway because I like Mary. We learn a little (itty bitty bit) about her past, and we also see potential changes in the Agency. That irritated me. I hardly know what the Agency is about, after only one book in the series, and now it's changing? But that's okay because I like Mary. And that's enough for me to read the potential third book in the series.

To the Nines by Janet Evanovich, read by C.J. Critt
published 2003 by Recorded Books
9 sound discs (10 hours, unabridged), adult pop lit

I love Stephanie Plum. These books are perfect for long drives because they're formulaic but most of all, they're hilarious. The situations are ridiculous, and Stephanie's decision-making skills are laughable. In this installment, Stephanie is looking for a man whose work visa is just about to expire. This case takes her in many different directions - with a trip to Vegas to boot! But who cares about the mystery? It's Stephanie's love life that keeps me reading, or rather, listening. She's back with Morelli, even living with him for now because her apartment is just too easy to break into. They're together but still not ready for marriage, even though Joe hints that he wouldn't mind if Stephanie was pregnant! Which she's not; her sister is. And Ranger? Well, he takes a backseat in this one, but I can't imagine that will last very long.

I also really like the narrator's voice, which I recognize from previous Plum novels. She uses different voices for Stephanie, Lula, Grandma Mazur, Ranger, Joe, and others, so it feels like there's a full cast. She reads well. :)

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