Sunday, September 07, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: Children's Books: Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale by Mo Willems



1.  BIBLIOGRAPHY
Willems, Mo. Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale.  Ill. by Mo Willems. New York: Hyperion Books, 2004. ISBN 0786818700
2.  PLOT SUMMARY
Trixie, a precocious toddler goes on an excited errand to the Laundromat, where her dad even lets her put money into the big machines for their clothes.  However, on the way back she realizes her beloved stuffed bunny, Knuffle Bunny, is missing!  She gets upset but can’t explain to daddy what’s wrong.  When they get home, mommy realizes the problem and they rush back to look for poor Knuffle Bunny.  Daddy finally finds him among the wet clothes and returns him to Trixie, who is so grateful she says her first words: “Knuffle Bunny.”
3.  CRITICAL ANALYSIS
Little readers will relate to the joys of running big kid errands with their parents and being entrusted with putting money into the slots of a machine.  They’ll also share the anxiety of being unable to communicate a problem, or even losing a favorite toy.  The simple text of Mo Willem’s book coupled with the unique backdrop of his pages will entrance young listeners and keep early readers entertained as well.
By pairing muted tone and black and white photographs with silly doodle sketched colorful characters, the readers eye will dance from page to page with Trixie as she tries to communicate in her own language. The simple city blocks will provide a familiar setting to many readers and the fun speech bubbles will help them read along.
4.  REVIEW EXCERPT(S)
2005 CALDECOTT MEDAL
Top 100 Picture Books #7 by School Library Journal
From SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL – “Printed on olive-green backdrops, the illustrations are a combination of muted, sepia-toned photographs upon which bright cartoon drawings of people have been superimposed. Personalities are artfully created so that both parents and children will recognize themselves within these pages. A seamless and supremely satisfying presentation of art and text.”
From BOOKLIST – “Even children who can already talk a blue streak will come away satisfied that their own strong emotions have been mirrored and legitimized, and readers of all ages will recognize the agonizing frustration of a little girl who knows far more than she can articulate.”
5.  CONNECTIONS
Gather other Caldecott Medal books about precocious children to read such as:
     Falconer, Ian. OLIVIA. ISBN 0689829531
     Rylant, Cynthia. THE RELATIVES CAME. ISBN 0689717385
Gather other Mo Willems' books about Trixie and Knuffle Bunny to read such as:
     KNUFFLE BUNNY FREE: AN UNEXPECTED DIVERSION. ISBN 9780061929571
Both of these sets of books can be used to talk to small children and even older children about growing up and family.

BOOK REVIEW: Children's Books: Locomotive by Brian Floca



1.     BIBLIOGRAPHY
Floca, Brian. Locomotive.  Ill. by Brian Floca. New York: Atheneum, 2013. ISBN 1416994157
2.     PLOT SUMMARY
The narrator of this book takes the reader, sometimes referred to as a passenger, on a journey through the building of the transcontinental railroad in the US.  From building the rails through the harshness of the travels across the country from Nebraska to California in about a week, the reader gets an in-depth look at how the first steam engines ran and the crew that helped to keep them moving.
3.     CRITICAL ANALYSIS
Interested readers get a very detailed description of each facet of running a steam train – and what can go wrong if the workers are not super careful with each step of the process.  It would be very easy for a young reader to become overwhelmed in the amount of description for each step of the journey and process.  Mr. Floca helps to break some of this up by using fun text and small sections of rhyming and repetition to draw the reader back to the story. 
Beautiful detailed color illustrations in small vignettes and sweeping two page views help to keep little readers drawn into the imagery of the text and bold fonts draw the reader to fun sounds and ideas.
4.     REVIEW EXCERPT(S)
2014 CALDECOTT MEDAL
ROBERT F. SIBERT INFORMATIONAL BOOK HONOR
NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER
From SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL – “The author smoothly integrates descriptions of the structure and mechanics of the locomotive, tasks of crew members, passing landscapes, and experiences of passengers. Simply sketched people and backgrounds, striking views of the locomotive, and broad scenes of unpopulated terrain are framed in small vignettes or sweep across the page.”
From BOOKLIST – “”Font styles swap restlessly to best embody each noise (see the blunt, bold “SPIT” versus the ornate, ballooning “HUFF HUFF HUFF”). Just as heart pounding are Floca’s bold, detailed watercolors, which swap massive close-ups of barreling locomotives with sweeping bird’s-eye views that show how even these metal giants were dwarfed by nature. It’s impossible to turn a page without learning something, but it’s these multiple wow moments that will knock readers from their chairs.”
5.     CONNECTIONS
Gather other Caldecott Medal books to read such as:
     Stead, Philip C. A SICK DAY FOR AMOS MCGEE. ISBN 1596434023
     Pizzoli, Greg. THE WATERMELON SEED. ISBN 1423171012
Gather other Brian Floca books to read such as:
    MOONSHOT:THE FLIGHT OF APOLLO 11.  ISBN 141695046X
    LIGHTSHIP. ISBN 1416924361
Use as an introduction to a science unit on movement and steam power.
Use with a history unit on the movement of people across the country.
Read HOW TO TRAIN A TRAIN by Jason Carter Eaton and TRAIN by Elisha Cooper and brainstorm types of trains and their cargo and passengers.
     Eaton, Jason Carter. HOW TO TRAIN A TRAIN. ISBN 0763663077
     Cooper, Elisha. TRAIN. ISBN 0545384958

BOOK REVIEW: Picture Books: Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey



1.  BIBLIOGRAPHY
McCloskey, Robert. Make Way for Ducklings.  Ill. by Robert McCloskey. New York: Viking Press, 1941. ISBN 0670451495
2.  PLOT SUMMARY
Mr. and Mrs. Mallard are looking for a safe place to build their nest and start their family.  They finally find a nice place in the Boston Public Gardens where they can swim and eat peanuts, but it is too dangerous for ducklings, so they come to another small island where they will be left in peace.  After the ducklings are born, Mrs. Mallard must teach them all about listening and being ducks before they can return to the gardens.  Getting help from local police, Mrs. Mallard marches her ducklings right through downtown Boston and into the garden where they can grow up happy and safe.
3.  CRITICAL ANALYSIS
Young readers might not understand Mrs. Mallard’s need for a quiet place to raise her ducklings, but they will love reading about how the little ones learn to walk in a straight line and come when called.  They will relate to the dangers of crossing the street and learn that policemen can help even ducklings when they’re needed.  The simple wording and straightforward story telling will let them immerse themselves in the hyper-realistic images of the ducklings with the simplified streets and people as they march down the city blocks.  The sepia-toned art, paired with bold text will allow young readers to follow along on the adventure.
4.  REVIEW EXCERPT(S
1941 CALDECOTT MEDAL
From NEWBERRY MEDAL SELECTION MEMBER KARIN SNELSON – “Robert McCloskey, creator of Blueberries for Sal, never fails to elicit happy story-time giggles from youngsters, and his soft, brown-toned, Caldecott-winning illustrations make this gentle world come alive.”
From THE BARNES & NOBLE REVIEWER AMY BARKAT – “McClosky's illustrations are brilliant and filled with humor. The details of the ducklings, along with the popular sights of Boston, come across wonderfully.”
Top 100 Picture Books #6 by School Library Journal
5.  CONNECTIONS
Gather other traveling animal books to read such as:
     Flack, Marjorie. Ills. Kurt Wiese.  THE STORY ABOUT PING. ISBN 0448421658
     Brown, Margaret Wise. Ills. Clement Hurd.  THE RUNAWAY BUNNY. ISBN 0064430189
Gather other Robert McCloskey books to read such as:
     TIME OF WONDER.  ISBN 0140502017
     BLUEBERRIES FOR SAL. ISBN 014050169X

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Gaian Avatars

Hi geeky crafters!

Not an actual craft this time, but some of the fun I've been getting up to while playing with tektek.org 's gaian avatar generator.  I've been recreating some of my favorite Doctor Who characters.  Here's what I have so far!

Jack Harkness

 Martha Jones
 Nine
 Bad Wolf Rose
 Girl in the Fireplace Rose
 Journey's End Rose
 Tooth and Claw Rose
 Ten (Brown Suit)
Donna Noble

What do you think Geeks?  Have any fun avatars to share?

Kat