Wednesday, January 30, 2008

What I've Been Reading--January 2008

It's been a great month of reading. I think I may have set an all-time record for number of books checked out of the library. Everytime I walk in people watch me with eyes bugged out and mouths dropping. I'm sure it will slow down in February though. I'm taking a graduate class in postmodernism in children's literature for my MFA and I'm teaching an undergraduate children's literature class. So most of my reading will be focusing on those two classes from now until May. I'm hoping I'll still get to post, but perhaps not as frequently.

Projects in the works:
As you can see by my lengthy picture book list, I have been overdosing on picture books. I am currently working on some illustrator series to feature an illustrator's work with a book a day. I've got several I'm working on and there will be more to come soon. Also, I'm working on an annotated list of folktale and tall tale retellings. I know there are thousands of books, but I'm reading what I can get my hands on and writing short summaries on each.

Picture Books
The Kiss that Missed by David Melling
Move by Steven Jenkins and Robin Page (my review here)
Meerkat Mail by Emily Gravett (illustrator series forthcoming)
Rainstorm by Barbara Lehman (my review here)
Punk Farm on Tour by Jarrett Krosoczka
The Princess and the Pea written and illustrated by Lauren Child (my review here)
Dog Blue by Polly Dunbar (illustrator series forthcoming)
Not Just Tutus by Rachel Isadora
Very Hairy Bear by Alice Schertle, illustrated by Matt Phelan
Lili at Ballet by Rachel Isadora
On Your Toes: A Ballet ABC by Rachel Isadora
Cowboy Ned and Andy by David Ezra Stein
How to Catch a Star by Oliver Jeffers (illustrator series forthcoming)
Library Mouse by Daniel Kirk
He's Got the Whole World in His Hands illustrated by Kadir Nelson
Edwina: The Dinosaur Who Didn't Know She Was Extinct by Mo Willems
Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers (illustrator series forthcoming)
Do Not Open this Book by Michaela Munteam, illustrated by Pascal Lamaitre
Billy's Bucket by Kes Gray and Gary Parsons
Flyaway Katie by Polly Dunbar (illustrator series forthcoming)
Sunshine by Jan Ormerod
The Secret in the Dungeon by Fernando Krahn
The Red Book by Barbara Lehman (my review here)
Museum Trip by Barbara Lehman (my review here)
Anno's Journey by Mitsumasa Anno
First Snow by Emily Arnold McCully
Imagine a Day by Sarah Thomsen, illustrated by Ron Gonsalves
Time Flies by Eric Rohmann (illustrator series forthcoming)
The Cinder-Eyed Cats by Eric Rohmann (illustrator series forthcoming)
Clara and Asha by Eric Rohmann (illustrator series forthcoming)
My Book Box by Will Hillenbrand
Jitterbug Jam by Barbara Jean Hicks and Alexis Deacon
Dear Fish by Chris Gall (my review here)
Heat Wave by Eileen Spinelli (my review here)
Workshop by Andrew Clements (my review here)
The Princess and the Pea by Rachel Isadora (my review here)
The Dumpster Diver by Janet Wong
Strong Man: The Story of Charles Atlas by Megan McCarthy
Jack and the Beanstalk by Steven Kellogg
Rumplestiltskin by Paul O. Zelinsky
The Talking Eggs by Robert D. San Souci, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney
Smoky Mountain Rose: An Appalachian Cinderella by Alan Schroeder, illustrated by Brad Sneed
John Henry by Julius Lester, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney
Once I Ate a Pie by Patricia Maclachlan and Emily Maclachlan Charest, illustrated by Katy Schneider
The Ugly Duckling by Jerry Pinkney
Mike Fink by Steven Kellogg
Cendrillon: A Caribbean Cinderella by Robert D. San Souci, illustrated by Brian Pinkney
The Jack Tales by Ray Hicks, as told to Lynn Salsi, illustrated by Owen Smith
The House in the Sky by Robert D. San Souci, illustrated by Will Clay
Brave Margaret: An Irish Adventure by Robert D. San Souci, illustrated by Sally Wren Comport
The Hired Hand by Robert D. San Souci, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney
Tree Ring Circus by Adam Rex (illustrator series forthcoming)
Walter was Worried by Laura Vaccarro Seeger (illustrator series forthcoming)
Jack and the Beanstalk retold by Ann Keay Benduce, illustrated by Gennady Spirin
Beauty and the Beasty retold and illustrated by Jan Brett
Paul Bunyan by Steven Kellogg
Town Mouse, Country Mouse by Jan Brett
I Was Born 10,000 Years Ago by Steven Kellogg
The Mitten adapted and illustrated by Jan Brett
Sally Ann Thunder Ann Whirlwind Crockett by Steven Kellogg
The Three Little Pigs by Steven Kellogg
Adelita: A Mexican Cinderella by Tomie dePaola
The Frog Prince Continued by Jon Scieszka, illustrated by Steven Johnson
The Book that Jack Wrote by Jon Scieszka, illustrated by Daniel Adel
Johnny Appleseed by Steven Kellogg
I Miss You Everyday by Simms Taback
Sleepover Larry by Daniel Pinkwater, illustrated by Jill Pinkwater
No Laughing, No Smiling, No Giggling by James Stevenson
City Hawk: The Story of Pale Male by Meghan McCarthy
The All-I'll-Ever-Want-For Christmas Doll by Patricia McKissack, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney
Hewitt Anderson's Great Big Life by Jeradine Nolen, illustrated by Kadir Nelson
Straight to the Pole by Kevin O'Malley
Buzzy's Balloon by Harriett Ziefert, illustrated by Emily Bolam
Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr., illustrated by Eric Carle
Ellington Was Not a Street by Ntozake Shange, illustrated by Kadir Nelson
Two Bad Ants by Chris Van Allsburg
The Very Smart Pea and the Princess to Be by Mini Grey (my review here)
Chicken Sunday by Patricia Polacco
The Cowboy and the Black-Eyed Pea by Tony Johnston, illustrated by Warren Ludwig (my review here)
The Chicken Chasing Queen of Lamar County by Janice N. Harrington, illustrated by Shelley Jackson (my review here)

Middle Grade
(I swear I'm going to start reviewing more middle grade. There are so many I love).
Me and the Pumpkin Queen by Marlane Kennedy (my review here)
How to Steal a Dog by Barbara O'Connor
Miss Spitfire by Sarah Miller
Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village by Laura Amy Schlitz
The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex (my review here)
The Princess Test by Gail Carson Levine (my review here)
The Entertainer and the Dybbuk by Sid Fleischman

Young Adult
A Swift Pure Cry by Siobhan Dowd
Taken by Edward Bloor
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne
My Mother the Cheerleader by Robert Sharenow (my review here)
Click by Linda Sue Park, and many others
Things Not Seen by Andrew Clements

Big Talk: Poems for Four Voices by Paul Fleischman, illustrated by Beppe Giacobbe
Peacock and other Poems by Valerie Worth, illustrated by Natalie Babbitt (my Poetry Friday entry here)
How Beastly! A Menagerie of Nonsense Poems by Jane Yolen, illustrated by James Marshall (my Poetry Friday entry here)

The Perfect Wizard: Hans Christian Andersen by Jane Yolen (my review here)
Lightship by Brian Floca

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing by M.T. Anderson

Cybils Fiction Picture Book Finalist: The Chicken Chasing Queen of Lamar County

The Chicken Chasing Queen of Lamar County
Written by Janice N. Harrington
Illustrated by Shelley Jackson
Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 2007

You know, my list of favorite books of 2007 just keeps growing and growing. And yes, it’s 2008. That’s the problem. I’m still reading and rereading some of my very favorite books from 2007 and trying to do reviews on them.

This book begs to be read aloud. Right now I’m reading, using and LOVING Linda Hoyt’s Interactive Read-Aloud lessons with my students. I love using picture books with fourth graders and I love how Linda Hoyt incorporates the books into meaningful, fun, sustaining, read-alouds. Of course Chicken Chasing Queen was just published this year, so it’s not in Linda Hoyt’s recommendations, but oh my goodness, I’m going to be using it very soon.

The main character, a young African-American girl, loves to chase chickens and she is the best Chicken Chaser. In fact, she’s the queen of chicken-chasing. She loves fretting the chickens. Her grandmother has warned her about it, but she loves the mischievousness of chasing the chickens. Then one day she finds the hen has gone. She finally finds her sitting on her eggs. And she has a change of heart. She doesn’t chase the hen anymore because she knows she’s busy being a mamma.

What makes me want to jump and shout about this book:
The language…it’s perfect and poetic and onomatopoeic and all of those good literary devices.
The voice…I could jump into this character and become her, it’s written so well.
The illustrations…Lots of collage and paintings, it fits the style of the story perfectly.
The awards…What awards you might ask? It is a Cybils fiction picture book finalist. It would have been wonderful if ALA adorned it with a sticker, but they didn’t.

The Princess and the Pea--Retelling #5

The Cowboy and the Black-Eyed Pea
By Tony Johnston
Illustrated by Warren Ludwig
Putnam, 1992

Farethee Well is the heiress to a great amount of land and longhorn cattle in Texas. Her father is dying and he wants to make sure she marries a real cowboy, not just someone who wants to marry her for her wealth. She creates a test—a way to make sure that she will find a real cowboy. She decides to put a black-eyed pea underneath the saddle blanket of any man who claims to be a cowboy. She knows that a black-eyed pea underneath a saddle blanket would bother a real cowboy, but others wouldn’t even know it was there.

Fake cowboy after fake cowboy pine for her love and her longhorns. She puts a black-eyed pea under each saddle blanket, but it doesn’t affect any of them. One evening during a storm, a stranger knocks on her door and wants to come out of the rain. She lets him in, but she asks him to go check on her longhorns. He keeps coming back saying that he is so uncomfortable.

Farethee Well keeps putting saddle blanket after saddle blanket on, but he is still uncomfortable because of the black-eyed pea. She has found her real cowboy and love of her life.

What makes the telling unique:
I really like how it’s the girl looking for a man. The cowboy western setting makes the story have a unique cadence to it. And of course, the black-eyed pea instead of the regular green pea is a different twist. This is a fun modern retelling with many changes, but still the familiarity from the original storyline.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The True Meaning of Smekday

The True Meaning of Smekday
By Adam Rex
Hyperion 2007

Once again, this is another Rex title that I just couldn’t resist. The man can come up with some titles! I was intrigued.

The True Meaning of Smekday begins with a girl writing about the invasion of aliens on Earth. Gratuity Tucci’s whole life is different since the Boov (name of the weird looking aliens) came to America. First, they took her mom, then they sent everyone in America to Florida. Gratuity is on her own. Gratuity is looking back on the recent events and writes them down in an essay for school. The government is looking for essays from kids on the Smekday holiday to be placed in a time capsule. Smekday is the day that the aliens landed and took over the United States. Gratuity befriends a Boov and makes a cross-country journey with him.

I’m not big on science fiction, but this one definitely has kid-appeal. It has the occasional picture, a few elements of a graphic novel thrown in, and has funny talking aliens.

My only problem with this book was the length. And I think the length wouldn’t have bothered me if the story was broken up into chapters. There are no chapter breaks, just three different sections of the story. Since the book is over 400 pages, it makes a lengthy read without chapter breaks. I hope that Adam Rex tries a graphic novel.

This book was a finalist for the Cybils science fiction/fantasy category for Elementary and Middle Grade.

The True Meaning of (the word) Smekday

Adam Rex has posted over at his blog that Google now recognizes the word Smekday. You know, it no longer wonders if he spelled it right. I think that's because so many bloggers are reviewing and linking, etc, etc. I've been holding on to my review about The True Meaning of Smekday in order to do a whole Adam Rex week, but I think I'll post it tonight in honor of Smekday officially becoming a word (according to Google).

The Phoenix Award 2008 Winners

The Children's Literature Association gives out "The Phoenix Award" each year to "the author, or the estate of the author, of a book for children published originally in English that did not win a major award at the time of its publication twenty years earlier." It's named after the phoenix bird that "rose from the ashes with renewed life and beauty".

The winner of this year's Phoenix Award is:
by Peter Dickinson
Delacorte, 1988

This year's honor book is:
The Devil's Arithmetic
by Jane Yolen
Viking, 1988

I recently read about Jane Yolen's honor on her website, but just received the flier in the mail today about the 2008 winner.

Jeremy Tankard--author interview

Have you read Jeremy Tankard's Grumpy Bird? If you haven't, you must! It was nominated for the Cybil fiction picture book category.

One of my cohorts in the fiction picture book nominating committee, Cheryl Reinfield, has an interview with Jeremy Tankard over at her blog. Check it out! It features a wonderful Q&A and some of his artwork, and the story behind the book.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Nonfiction Monday

Do you like Poetry Friday? Well, now the kidlitsophere is going to start featuring Nonfiction Mondays. Post about nonfiction and send Anastasia Suen your post link. She'll post the round-ups at her blog.

Orbus Pictus Awards Announced

The Orbus Pictus Award has been announced by National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE). The award is given to an outstanding nonfiction book for children. Each year one award is given, up to five honor books, and a list of recommended titles.


Honor books:

Muckrakers by Ann Bausum

Spiders by Nic Bishop

Venom by Marilyn Singer

Recommended list:

Living Color by Steve Jenkins

For the press release, click here.

Thanks to Franki at A Year of Reading for the link.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Princess and the Pea--Retelling #4

The Very Smart Pea and the Princess-to-Be
Written and illustrated by Mini Grey
Knopf, 2003

If you are looking for a unique retelling, this one tops my list. This story of “The Princess and the Pea” is told from the point of view of the pea. The pea tells the entire story from his point of view. He is grown in the palace gardens and he knew he had a special purpose. The pea lets us into the conversations between the prince and the Queen like someone who is eavesdropping. The pea does his job at first—just sits there underneath a pile of mattresses. But every girl that sleeps on the mattresses doesn’t report anything unusual.

Finally, the pea takes matters into his own hands. One night a young girl comes to the house while it is raining and the pea decides to climb up the mattresses. He whispers into the ear of the young girl about how someone large, round, and uncomfortable is bothering her. It turns out the pea knows the young girl—it’s the gardener from his home in the palace gardens. The young girl points out that something “large, round, and uncomfortable” bothered her all night. Instantly the Queen knows that this girl is the “the one” for her son.

And true to the original tale, the pea ends up in a special box in a museum.

What makes this retelling unique:
Of course, the point of view is unique. This is the only tale I’ve seen from the point of view of an inanimate object. But the inanimate object is not inanimate anymore. It is also unique because the princess is really not a princess, but a hard-working gardener.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Poetry Friday--Nonsense Poems

How Beastly! A Menagerie of Nonsense Poems
By Jane Yolen
Illustrations by James Marshall
Wordsong, 1980

This book is so old I couldn't find the cover art online. Wow! But it is full of fun nonsense poems. Here's one to share. Jane Yolen amazes me at the breadth of her writing. She does it all, and she does it all well.

The Skank

A tense ancestor of the skunk
Was the immortal Skank.
For bones and fragments of its skin
We’ve fossil hounds to thank.
They first discovered its remains
Deep in an ancient bank
And knew it for a skunk’s grandpa
For oh my gosh, it stank.

Poetry Friday roundup is at Mentor Texts, Read Alouds, and More

Monday, January 21, 2008

The Edge of the Forest Reviews

A new edition of The Edge of the Forest is up today. I have three reviews in this issue:

The Aurora County All-Stars by Deborah Wiles

Iron Thunder by Avi

The Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Junior Edition By David Borgenicht and Robin Epstein, illustrated by Chuck Gonzales

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Remember the Civil Rights Movement on Martin Luther King Jr. Day

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day I wanted to bring you a review of a very moving historical fiction novel. Many people have heard of Ruby Bridges. The picture book The Story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles brought her story to children. The movie “Ruby Bridges” also brought her story to TV.

A new historical fiction novel, My Mother the Cheerleader, by Robert Sharenow, brings the story of a little girl who used to go to school in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans before integration. Louise’s mother runs a boarding house. Louise has to do many of the chores around the boarding house while her mother protests the integration of her school. Her mother is one of “The Cheerleaders” who screams racial slurs at Ruby as she goes into school each day. Her mother is one of the ladies who spreads hate and continues the cycle of discrimination.

I had never even considered the story of the protestors, nor did I realize how hate-filled and violent it really was. I always knew that Ruby Bridges was brave, but I had no idea what horrific things she had to see and hear on her way to school every day. However, Ruby Bridges is really not the main focus of the story. Louise is the main focus of the story. She tries to grapple with her mother’s lifestyle, attempts to figure out who she is, and how she feels about the people in her life.

When a visitor from New York comes to stay at her mother’s boarding house, her world is opened up to new ideas and she realizes that the rest of the world does not think like the people in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans.

This is an eye-opening, thought-provoking book. And most importantly it is hopeful. Louise realizes that just because one is raised in an environment of discrimination doesn’t mean it has to stay that way.

My Mother the Cheerleader
By Robert Sharenow
Laura Geringer Books, 2007

Doug Chayka, Cybils Shortlist Illustrator

One of my favorite books from the Cybils fiction picture book nominations was Four Feet, Two Sandals by Karen Lynn Williams and Khadra Mohammed. It made our fiction picture book shortlist, and I reviewed it here.

Today the illustrator of this book, Doug Chayka, is the featured illustrator over at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. Head over there to see more of Chayka's illustrations and read Jules' interview with him.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Edgar Awards Nominations

The Edgar Awards nomination list was released yesterday. This is the "shortlist" being considered for the award. The Edgars Awards are for the best mystery stories in many genres and mediums. They are given by the Mystery Writers of America.

Here are the children's book related categories:

Best Juvenile
The Name of this Book is Secret by Pseudonymous Bosch (very cool website)
Shadows on Society Hill by Evelyn Colemen
Deep and Dark and Dangerous by Mary Downing Hahn
The Night Tourist by Katherine Marsh
Sammey Keyes and the Wild Things by Wendelin Van Draanen

Best Young Adult
Rat Life by Tedd Arnold (yes this is the same Tedd Arnold that is known for his picture books)
Diamonds in the Shadow by Caroline B. Cooney
Touching Snow by M. Sindy Felin
Blood Brothers by S.A. Harazin
Fragments by Jeffry W. Johnston

You can read the full press release here.

The Princess and the Pea--Retelling #3

The Princess Test
By Gail Carson Levine
HarperCollins, 1999

This novella is part of The Princess Tales by Levine. I love the way this book is made. It is a skinny little chapter book and is long and narrow (about ¾ of the width of a normal chapter book page).

The story definitely strays farther from the original than the other retellings I’ve reviewed. But of course, there is more room for elaboration in the middle grade novel format than in a picture book.

Lorelei is just a blacksmith’s daughter, but she has always required a lot of special care. She couldn’t help with regular household chores because she would break out in a rash or get injured. So her parents doted on her constantly, even though as she grew older, she felt somewhat guilty that they pampered her so much. When her mother dies, Lorelei’s father hires a woman to help with the household chores. The woman gets disgusted when she realizes how fragile and inept Lorelei is with everyday tasks. In fact, she gets so annoyed that she begins to set things up to see if Lorelei will hurt herself so badly that she will just die. Yes, this sounds just like an evil stepmother, but this lady never marries Lorelei’s father.

The prince of the kingdom notices Lorelei on many occasions because they knew each other from childhood. As much as he admires her, his parents won’t have him marry anyone except for a true princess. And Lorelei is just a blacksmith’s daughter.

The king and queen are tired and are ready to turn their kingdom over to their heir. But he has to be married to a real princess. Thus, the princess test is created. The royal family designs a series of tests that only true princesses will pass. In the original tale the prince travels worldwide looking for a princess. In this story all of the wanna-be princesses come to the palace to undergo the princess tests. The last of the tests is the pea-under-the-mattress test that is known in the original tale.

Even though Lorelei is not a princess, she still undergoes the tests, even though the prince wants her for his wife regardless of how she fares on the tests. But the king and queen insist that he only marry a true princess. Of course, she passes and they are able to get married.

What makes this retelling unique:
The fact that this is a chapter book meant for older readers make this retelling unique. Girls who are reading novels, but still love a good princess story, will love this book. This retelling keeps some of the familiar elements of the original tale, but also recreates it in such a way that the reader will feel like they are reading a fresh, new story.

Friday, January 18, 2008

New Sidebar--Annotated Lists

I have added a new sidebar for annotated book lists. Right now there is only one, but there are more on their way. These lists will be in PDF forms so it will be easy for printing.

I added a new one today: Haiku Annotated Book List. I posted this list previously on my blog, but this list will be easier to print.

The Princess and the Pea--Retelling #2

The Princess and the Pea
Retold and illustrated by Rachel Isadora
Putnam, 2007

Rachel Isadora provides a stunning visual extravaganza in this book. It is done in oil paints, printed paper, and palette paper. With each cutout is intricate texture. There are many bright colors and the wardrobes of the characters and the bedding for the princess are amazing!

This story has far fewer details in the text of the story. But really, the text doesn’t need much elaboration because the illustrations are so detailed. The story itself is very basic. A prince is looking for a princess. He travels far and wide to find a princess. He returns home after finding no one. A princess comes to him during a storm. They provide her a place to sleep and put a pea under the mattresses. She gets black and blue and they know she is a real princess. The pea that is put under the mattresses is later put in a museum, just like in Andersen’s version.

What makes the retelling unique:
This retelling is set in Africa. The prince goes to visit Somalia, Kenya, and Ethiopia on his travels to find a princess. It includes the words for hello in Swahili, Somali, and Amharic when the princesses meet the prince, and each princess is dressed in traditional clothing.

Poetry Friday--Got Icicles?

Are you enjoying the snowy weather? Eaten any icicles lately?

For Poetry Friday, I give you Valerie Worth on "Icicles".

When they
Finally fall
And litter
The snow
With splinters
Of clear
Rock candy,

How sad
To discover
That rather
Than sugar
They only
Taste of
The roof.

From: Peacock and other poems by Valerie Worth, illustrated by Natalie Babbitt.
Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2002.
The Poetry Friday roundup is at Farm School

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Mo Reactions and More

Check out Mother Reader's interview with Mo Willems after he won a Newbery Honor and a Geisel award (for two different books)!

Also, the Cybils website is offering a new widget for the books. Notice my right sidebar has the Cybils fiction picture book finalists in a widget. You can get it in any or all categories. Get yours here.

The Princess and the Pea--Retelling #1

The Princess and the Pea in Miniature: after the Fairy Tale by Hans Christian Andersen
Written and illustrated by Lauren Child
Captured by Polly Borland
Hyperion, 2006

This is a modern retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s “Princess and the Pea.” Lauren Child is the popular writer and illustrator who wrote Charlie and Lola books and Clarice Bean books. In fact, when I first opened this book up, I thought it was a striking resemblance to the characters on Charlie and Lola (which my daughter watched this morning).

What’s fascinating about the illustrations:
The characters in this story are paper cutouts—much like paper dolls. They are dressed with dresses and outfits made of actual material. The backgrounds are 3-D. The flat characters were placed into doll house furniture settings, then photographed by Polly Borland. The flat characters remind me so much of the “flat characters” in traditional fairy tales. Each character is stereotyped or “flat” and I loved the fact that these characters were literally flat.

My favorite spread is the opening end papers. There is a stack of mattresses with a pea in between them. Each mattress is a covered in pretty flannel patterned material. A tiny gold chandelier hangs from the ceiling and the wall behind it is painted kelly green. It’s bright, colorful, and such a unique way of presented illustrations.

What makes the retelling unique:
The author makes the reader feel really smart. There is authorial intrusion throughout the book reminding the reader how much they already know about fairy tales. One of the comments is, “You know how it is with these fairy-tale types.” It assumes the reader knows how the fairy-tale types are. And chances are, they do know those fairy-tale types.

The writing is very over-the-top, very dramatic and very fitting for a fairy tale. The prince on his quest for the perfect princess says she must be “more mesmerizing than the moon and I must find her more fascinating than all the stars in the sky. And there must be a certain…something about her.”

The "Original" Princess and the Pea

"The Princess and the Pea"
By Hans Christian Andersen
Translated by Maria Tatar and Julie K. Allen
From: The Annotated Hans Christian Andersen (W.W. Norton, 2008)

Before I go into retellings of "The Princess and the Pea", I thought it might be useful to touch on the original version. Although Andersen if often credited with writing “original” fairy tales, some of the ones he wrote were stories he had heard as a child. According to Tatar and Allen, Andersen probably heard a version of the “The Princess and the Pea” as a child and it might have been the Swedish tale “Princess Who Lay on Seven Peas.”

The story itself is rather short. A prince went all over the world looking for a princess only to return home and have the princess actually find him. The princess he is to marry actually arrives at his house during a storm. She needs to come in out of the rain and the royal family lets her. The queen wasn’t too sure she was really a princess so she puts a pea under twenty mattresses and twenty featherbeds. Only a princess would have sensitive enough skin to notice the pea. And the princess does. She wakes up black and blue from a dreadful sleep the night before. The prince realizes she is a real princess and marries her. They put the pea in a museum.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Hans Christian Andersen, An Introduction

Over the next few days, I'll be focusing on retellings of Hans Christian Andersen's "The Princess and the Pea". But before I begin that, I wanted to highlight a fantastic picture book biography of Hans Christian Andersen.

The Perfect Wizard: Hans Christian Andersen
By Jane Yolen (her website has a new look)
Illustrated by Dennis Nolan
Dutton, 2004

I love picture book biographies. I especially love them when the read like picture books, but they still get to the heart of the person like a biography. This book, under Jane Yolen’s amazing hand, does both. Yolen gives just the right amount of information about Andersen’s life. Because so many of Andersen’s fairy tales are interwoven with autobiographical details, Yolen includes quotes from various tales throughout the story, weaving them in as they apply to the facts about his life.

Some interesting facts I learned about Andersen:
He almost got kicked out of school for writing so much. He was writing so obsessively that it got in the way of his schoolwork.

His first book was such a failure that it was used as wrapping paper for cheese.

Look how well known he became despite his failures and shortcomings!

Works in Progress--What's Coming in 2008

I haven't been posting a lot lately, but I have lots of things "in the works". Here are some topics you'll be seeing from me in the coming weeks and months:

* Fairy Tale Retellings--I will taking a closer look at some specific fairy tales that have been retold. I am also created an annotated list of folk tale retellings by subject/tale/region, etc.

* Author/Illustrator Studies--I will be reading as many books as I can get my hands on by one author and post reviews in succession. I am currently working on Adam Rex, Polly Dunbar, Eric Rohmann, Emily Gravett, and more.

Stay tuned for more things to come...

Monday, January 14, 2008

ALA Awards

I was so excited this morning about the ALA awards. I'm truly a book nerd. People roll their eyes at me. It's okay, I'm proud to be a book nerd.

Here of some of the award and honor winners that I have previously reviewed:

Caldecott Honor Books:
Henry's Freedom Box (and I'm very excited--I'll get to see Kadir Nelson at the Virginia State Reading Association Conference in March)

First the Egg (also received a Geisel honor award)

I'm not sure how I managed not to review Knuffle Bunny Too, but I really did like the book. It made the Cybils fiction picture book shortlist.

Caldecott Winner:
The Invention of Hugo Cabret

Coretta Scott King Illustrator Winner:
Let it Shine

Schneider Family Book Award, Middle Grades Category:
Reaching for the Sun (my review is in The Edge of the Forest)

Pura Bulpre Award, Author Recipient
The Poet Slave of Cuba: A biography of Juan Francisco Manzano

I'm pretty pleased that I had reviews in many categories. While I read a lot of middle grade fiction, I don't always review it (I don't know why...). It was one of my New Year's Resolutions to review more middle grade fiction. I read the Newbery winner and two of the three honor books. I really liked the ones I read, but I didn't review them this year.

Drumroll please....

And the winners are:

Caldecott Honor books:
Henry's Freedom Box
First the Egg
The Wall
Knuffle Bunny Too

Caldecott Winner:
The Invention of Hugo Cabret

Newbery Honor:
Elijah of Buxton
Wednesday Wars

Newbery Medal:
Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!

Many thanks to Goddess of YA Literature for her live blogging! You can see all of the winners at her site. I was watching the live webcast with my kids at school and right after Wednesday Wars, it stopped! Stopped I tell you!!!! And I couldn't get it back. I don't know why! I don't know if it was my end or ALA's. I was going crazy! Then I jumped to the Goddess's website and she put me out of my anxiety ridden moment.

What I'm excited about...I've read ALL of these books except for Feathers. This is the first time ever for me that has happened. And you know who I credit? Why the kidlitosphere of course! The kid lit bloggers are out there posting on all of these good books all year.

What else I'm excited about...The Invention of Hugo Cabret!!! All year long I have been bragging about this book to everyone I know. It is one of the best books ever. And all of the naysayers were saying that this book wouldn't get any big awards because what category is it in? Well, yippee ka yay! It won! Congratulations Mr. Selznick!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

'Twas the Night before the Newbery

Yes, I tried my own "Twas the night" poem, but it wasn't very good, so it will not be seeing print here.

Tomorrow is the big day. You can view the webcast live here tomorrow:

Last year I was able to view it live with my class. What fun!

I wonder, I wonder, will any of my favorites win?
Here are some of my favorites for the Caldecott.
Here of some of my favorite books of 2007.

In other news, Jen Robinson did a wonderful job of rounding up everyone's advice for raising reluctant readers. Go see her article here. She even put in my two cents. Thanks Jen!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Starring...Strong Verbs

I have recently run across several books with awesome verbs! I have been working with my young fourth grade writers on books with strong verbs. Here are some of my favorites…

Dear Fish
By Chris Gall
Little Brown, 2006

Peter Alan invites the fish to come visit him. They do and it turns the town into a wild place. This book is chock-full of some of the best verbs out there. Dripping, flipping, flopping, gurgling, swooping, whooshing, hammering, and yammering are some of my favorites. This book is a treasure trove.

Heat Wave
By Eileen Spinelli
Illustrated by Betsy Lewis
Harcourt, 2007

When the town experiences a heat wave, everyone in town must do whatever they can to keep cool. Sizzled, frizzled, soaked, fanned, and squirted are some of my favorite verbs from this book.

By Steven Jenkins and Robin Page
Houghton Mifflin, 2006

In Jenkins and Page style, this book highlights different animals. It talks about how they move—perfect for studying verbs. Each page has a separate verb written in large lettering. Each verb is paired with two animals that do that particular type of movement. My favorite verbs are slither and waddle. At the end the verbs are all listed together.

By Andrew Clements
Illustrated by David Wisniewski
Clarion, 1999

Clements highlights the different tools in the workshop and what they do. It is complimented perfectly with Wisniewski’s unbelievable cut paper illustrations. This book is phenomenal in word choice all around, but I particularly like the verbs he uses for the screwdriver, drill, pliers, and wrench. My favorite line is “Wrench wrestles metal.” See, it even includes personification!

Illustrator Study--Barbara Lehman Day 3

Illustrated by Barbara Lehman
Houghton Mifflin, 2007

Do you remember being a kid and how horrible it was when you couldn’t go outside and play and you were bored out of your mind? I do. And this wordless picture book captures a child’s curiosity and imagination.

It’s raining. A little boy character looks out at the rain, tries to find something to do, but he’s just bored. He kicks a ball under a chair. When he goes to retrieve it, he discovers a key. He tries the key out on every object he can find that might require a key. Finally he finds a trunk. He opens it up and there’s a ladder inside that leads somewhere.

This story told solely through the pictures show where the boy goes in his imagination on a rainy day. There he meets up with other children who have also made their way there and want to keep going back to their special place.

This book reminds me of the imaginary places I had as a kid and the imaginary games I’d play on rainy days when I couldn’t go outside.

Of the three books I’ve reviewed, this the first one to have the title large and easily seen. The Red Book doesn’t have a title on the front cover. Museum Trip does, but it is in the form of a small stamp on the bottom right hand corner. Rainstorm’s title is right on the front.

Other tidbits:
A fun, illustrated interview with Barbara Lehman about Rainstorm

Barbara Lehman has a new book coming out in 2008. Trainstop, published by Houghton Mifflin, will be out in April.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Scott O'Dell Award

According to Read Roger, Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis, has won the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction. As of the time I am posting this message, it wasn't posted on the Award website yet.

I hope it will be a big year for Christopher Paul Curtis. Fuse #8 predicts that Elijah of Buxton will win a Newbery Honor. It was one of my favorite books of 2007 too.

Illustrator Study: Barbara Lehman Day #2

Museum Trip
Illustrated by Barbara Lehman
Houghton Mifflin, 2006

This book begins by introducing us to our main character, a boy who lags a little behind when he goes on a school field trip to a museum. While the other children are looking at fascinating pictures and sculptures, the boy stops to tie his shoe. When he looks up, his class is gone. He looks for them briefly and then discovers more interesting things.

He goes through a door that leads to a room of pictures of mazes. He studies each one, imagining himself making his way through the twists and turns of each. As a reader we escape into these mazes with him and the mazes take on life-size existence. In the last maze, the boy enters a tower and receives a medal. After winning “the prize” for success in each maze, he rejoins his class, still looking at pictures in the museum. No one seems to have missed him while he was gone exploring his imagination. And in this book the reader notices that it’s not another child who has also escaped into the same imaginative exploring, but it’s the museum guide.

I love that last touch. I think it’s wonderful that Lehman celebrates not only a child’s imagination, but also an adult’s imagination.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Illustrator Study: Barbara Lehman Day #1

One of my goals for my blog this year was to study a few authors/illustrators more in depth, to attempt to get my hands on as many books as they have created as possible. As I do my author/illustrator studies, I may not be able to address all of the books he/she has written. I will do my best to cover as much of their work as possible, with as many of the books I can get my hands on.

I begin with Barbara Lehman, illustrator of children’s picture books. She has illustrated at least eight other books written by other writers, including Abracadabra to Zigzag: An Alphabet Book by Nancy Lecourt and Susan Whitcher, Moonfall by Susan Whitcher. In this illustrator study, I will be reviewing the books she self-illustrated: The Red Book, Museum Trip, and Rainstorm.

I must admit, I’m fascinated by wordless picture books. Give me a fascinating David Wiesner or Barbara Lehman tale done completely in pictures, and I’m hooked. I think it’s because as a reader or a viewer, I can take part in deciding so much of the story myself.

I like Lehman's wordless picture books because her stories really capture the imagination of a child. Each child in the three books I’m reviewing this week are whisked away by their own imaginations, which leads them to places only imaginations can take them. And isn’t that the beauty of childhood?

The Red Book
Illustrated by Barbara Lehman
Houghton Mifflin, 2004

This book is probably one of the most easily recognized of Barbara Lehman’s book, probably because it got attention when it won a Caldecott honor. We follow a child who finds a red book in the snow. She takes it with her, and when she opens it up, she finds a map. The child imagines herself in the map, walking around the island. On that same island, a boy finds a red book. He opens it up and sees a picture of a snowy city. Then the little girl sees the boy looking at the book looking at her. Confused? In other words, they see each other through red books.

The girl finds a man selling balloons on the street and she buys them all. She loses the red book on her attempt to fly away to the island. She does reach the island and finds her friend. But someone else has picked up the red book she lost.

This book reminds me very much of the concept of Flotsam (by David Wiesner, Houghton Mifflin, 2006) because of how children are connected through their sense of imagination.

I really like how Barbara Lehman makes it easy to follow the characters in her book and see what they are seeing, but also giving us perspective. I have been studying some older wordless picture books. Many of them have so much on a page that it’s more like reading “Where’s Waldo” and hunting for the character on a busy page rather than feeling connected to a character on their journey. I don’t feel like that with modern wordless picture books, and especially not with Lehman’s work. Her characters are front and center and I am easily pulled into their stories of imagination and where they might take me…

For interesting tidbits about Barbara Lehman, see this site.

Monday Poetry Stretch

One of my New Year's resolutions was to write a poem a day (at least on the weekdays). Today I'm participating in Miss Rumphius Effect's Monday Poetry Stretch. It is a poem inspired by an image. The image was originally published at her blog. Here's my interpretation:

a long, dusty trail
I pause to rest in my thoughts
surprised by beauty

--Marcie Flinchum Atkins

In the News

I think the next couple of weeks are going to be full of news in the kidlitosphere with several big award winners to be announced next week. In the news this week:

The Cybils shortlists for Young Adult Fiction, Nonfiction Picture Books, Graphic Novels, and Middle Grade and YA Nonfiction. For a list of all finalists, go here. I can't wait to read them!

Also, in book award news, the Sydney Taylor Book Award winners and honor award winners have been announced. This award is given to books for children that "outstanding books that authentically portray the Jewish experience".

The winners are....
Young Readers: The Bedtime Sh'ma: A Good Night Book by Sarah Gershman and illustrated by Kristina Swarner

Older Readers: The Entertainer and the Dybbuk by Sid Fleischman

Teen Readers: Strange Relations by Sonia Levitin

For the complete list of all award and honor winners, check this out.

Thanks to Barbara Bietz for the heads up about this one.

And last, but not least... Kidlitosphere's own, Jen Robinson, is posting over at PBS Parents. Go visit her here.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Poetry Friday--The Moon is La Luna

For Poetry Friday I have been saving a book that was nominated for the Cybils Poetry Category: The Moon is La Luna: Silly Rhymes in English and Spanish, Rhymes by Jay M. Harris, pictures by Matthew Cordell (Houghton Mifflin, 2007).

This book is so clever! It uses rhyme to introduce readers to Spanish words. The rhymes tell the meaning of the words, but also relate them to something silly in English. A true word dance!

Here is one of my favorites:

When you take a nap, it’s una siesta.
When you throw a party, it’s una fiesta.
It would be best
To get a short rest,
So before la fiesta, siesta!

This book also features a Spanish pronunciation guide and a glossary of English meanings for Spanish words. This book came to school today. I am going to do a book talk on it. I know some of my Spanish speaking students will get a kick out of it.

Poetry Friday roundup is at A Year of Reading.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

A Passion for Pumpkins

I read this book because A Year of Reading had it on their Newbery Hopefuls From our Reading Friends special series (Day 2). One of my goals that I hope to reach one day is to have read the Newbery book before it’s announced. When the ALA meeting rolls around, and they announce the winner, my dream is to shout, “That’s a great book, I’ve already read it!” Sadly, this has never happened to me. So, this year I’ve read a lot. If someone says they think it’s a Newbery contender, I’ve tried to check it out from the library. When A Year of Reading did their Newbery Hopefuls series, I made a list of books to check out from the library. Here is one of the gems that was recommended.

Me and the Pumpkin Queen
By Marlane Kennedy
Greenwillow/HarperCollins, 2007

Mildred was passionate about one thing: growing giant pumpkins. Her friends were obsessed with other things—basketball, cute boy actors—but not Mildred. She had an obsession of a different kind. Mildred’s dad was a veterinarian, who had a soft spot for unwanted animals. Her mother died of cancer (which by the way, is the third book in a row I’ve read with a mother who died of cancer) and her Aunt Arlene feels the need to take her under her wing.

Aunt Arlene wants to buy her clothes, doll her up, and make her think about things that girls her age think about. Mildred wants none of it. She wants to be able to grow her giant pumpkins. Her time, energy, and thoughts all go into winning a prize at the pumpkin show for the biggest pumpkin. She even consults a local farmer, a client of her dad’s, to find out what type of seeds she should use and get any growing tips he might have.

The whole growing season—from the day after the frost free date to the day of the pumpkin show—Mildred nurtures, protects, and worries over her pumpkins, until there is only one left.

This book has amazing voice. Honestly, I wasn’t sure I wanted to read a book about a girl who loves pumpkins, but Marlane Kennedy made me care about Mildred from the first chapter, and the first chapter was only two very short pages. I worried right along with Mildred and couldn’t believe she took a trip to visit relatives and left her little pumpkins in the hands of her daddy. But that’s what makes this book a good read—that I cared about what happened to those little pumpkins. Mildred has passion and makes the readers of her story share in her passion.

Thanks for the recommendation A Year of Reading!

The Chicken or the Egg?

First the Egg
By Laura Vaccaro Seeger
Roaring Brook Press, 2007

You know the whole which-came-first-the-chicken-or-the-egg debate? Well, Laura Vaccaro Seeger manages to illustrate it beautifully in her simple, but delightful, new picture book. The whole book is in a pattern of First the __________, then the ___________. Most of the cause/effect scenarios that are presented are nature related, but for all of us book lovers, she includes “first the word, then the story” and “first the paint, then the picture.”

The illustrations also include die-cuts that reveal part of the picture on the next page. The oil paintings on canvas give the illustrations a textural look.

So how does she handle the which-came-first-the-chicken-or-the-egg debate? The first line of the story is “First the egg, then the chicken.” The last line of the book is “first the chicken, the egg.” I think that covers all the bases.

This is a must read with preschoolers! Laura Vaccaro Seeger is also the author of another favorite: Dog and Bear: Two Friends, Three Stories.

Cybils hits the big time!

The annoucement of the Cybils' shortlists has made news in some pretty cool places.

Mo Willems called us "those wacky bloggers" on his blog. I think he was pleased that KB2 make our shortlist.

IRA announced the Cybils on their blog (and happened to mention that KB2 also was shortlisted). Thanks to Anastasia Suen for this link.

National Ambassador for Young People's Literature

The waiting is over--Jon Scieszka has been named the National Ambassador for Young People's Literature. What a great choice--he's entertaining, popular, and has a great program to encourage boys to read.

Check out the Washington Post article here.

And the New York Times article here.

The Publisher's Weekly article is here.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Drum roll please...

The Cybils finalists have been announced. At least they have been for fiction picture books, poetry, science fiction and fantasy, and middle grade fiction.

I felt so privileged to be on the fiction picture book committee this year and really felt like I learned a lot from Jules, our fearless leader (7-Imp), Pam (MotherReader), Annie (Crazy for Kids' Books), and Cheryl Rainfield (her blog). These ladies are incredibly knowledgeable and passionate about children's books.

I loved so many of these books. It was fun to read titles that I might not have otherwise found (because many of them were not in my library or local bookstore)--so thanks to the generous publishers who made some of the review titles available. It made me realize the importance of bloggers and the Cybils awards. Hopefully people are being exposed to and encouraged to read books that are FABULOUS books, but are not necessarily in every bookstore or library. We hope you will go out and try to find these books and read them.
There were so many books that were hits with me. We picked seven for the shortlist, but I think we would all agree we had so many favorites. I have reviewed many on this blog.

And without further ado, here are the titles chosen for the shortlist for fiction picture books:

Written and illustrated by Adam Rex
Harcourt, 2007

Go to Bed Monster!
by Natasha Wing
illustrated by Sylvie Kantorovitz
Harcourt, 2007

The Chicken-Chasing Queen of Lamar County
by Janice N. Harrington
Illustrated by Shelley Jackson
Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2007

Written and illustrated by David Ezra Stein
Putnam Juvenile, 2007

Four Feet, Two Sandals
by Karen Williams and Khadra Mohammed
Illustrated by Doug Chayka
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2007

Knuffle Bunny Too
Written and illustrated by Mo Willems
Hyperion, 2007

The Incredible Book Eating Boy
Written and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers
Philomel, 2007

My goals for the year

New Year's Day...I go back to my normal routine tomorrow and I will start out running. I have a student teacher coming, and I'm going to teach a college level course and take a graduate level course at the same time. Plus I'll be teaching fourth grade full time (I'm nuts I think). Whew! I'm already losing sleep over my big to-do list. So here are some of my goals for the year--personal and blogging goals.

Blogging goals:
1) I hope to add annotated bibliographies to my sidebar in my blog. I have several lists I want to add, so I hope to do this in the coming year. Some that are already in the works or completed: haiku books, books set in Jamestown, books set in Virginia by time period. Ones I want to do: modern fairy tale/folktale retellings.

2) Review more middle grade novels. When I looked at my favorite books of 2007, I realized I read a lot of middle grade novels, but didn't review them as frequently. I want to do more of that in 2007.

Personal goals:
1) Bake my own bread. I don't know if I'll be able to keep up with this, but I'm going to try. I love to bake and I just bought myself some nice Chicago Metallic bread pans. I will try my first batch of Honey Wheat bread this afternoon.

2) Work more on my Work in Progress. I have been in a slump with my WIP which is collection of poetry that I am writing about growing up between cultures. I hope to have more of this done this year. I think I should write at least a poem a day. I think it's manageable with my crazy schedule.

3) Exercise more--this is always my goal, but I know I'll feel better if I do it PLUS I'll have more energy to get everything accomplished.

My Favorite Books of 2007

I had lots of favorite books of 2007. Here are just some of my very, very favorites. If they have links, they are linked to my reviews.

Picture Books

Mama’s Saris by Pooja Makhijani, illustrated by Elena Gomez
I’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean by Kevin Sherry
Chester by Melanie Watt
Penguin by Polly Dunbar
Orange Pear Apple Bear by Emily Gravett
Leaves by David Ezra Stein
Psst! By Adam Rex
The Incredible Book Eating Boy written and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers
Four Feet, Two Sandals by Karen Williams and Khadra Mohammed, illustrated by Doug Chayka
Go to Bed Monster by Natasha Wing, illustrated by Sylvie Kantorovitz
Scribble by Deborah Freedman
Glass Slipper, Gold Sandal: A Worldwide Cinderella by Paul Fleischman, illustrated by Julie Paschkis
Henry's Freedom Box by Ellen Levine, illustrated by Kadir Nelson

Middle Grade

Edward’s Eyes by Patricia MacLachlan
No Talking by Andrew Clements
Iron Thunder by Avi
Aurora County All Stars by Deborah Wiles
The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
Lawn Boy by Gary Paulsen
Middle School is Worse than Meatloaf by Jennifer L. Holm
Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love Stuart Little by Peggy Gifford
Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis


Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult
Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt


Jabberwocky reimagined and illustrated by Christopher Myers
Dogku by Andrew Clements, illustrated by Tim Bowers
Today and Today haiku by Issa, illustrated by G. Brian Karas
Hey You! Poems to Skyscrapers, Mosquitoes, and Other Fun Things by Paul B. Janeczko, illustrated by Robert Rayevsky
This is Just to Say: Poems of Apology and Forgiveness by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Pam Zagarenski

Laugh Out Loud Funny Books

Two of my favorite picture books this year were funny ones. My daughter and I cracked up everytime we read them. Both are perfect toddler books.

Written and illustrated by Polly Dunbar
Candlewick, 2007

One of my favorite things about this book is the cover. It’s simple—lots of white space. But Penguin is simply portrayed and the title of the book is cleverly designed with the letters cut out of other materials.

Ben receives a stuffed penguin for a present. Ben talks constantly to the penguin and wants him to talk back. Ben does everything—tickles him, makes a funny face, sings, dances, but nothing will make Penguin talk. Ben even shoots him into outer space. When Penguin comes back, he still doesn’t talk. Ben tries to feed the Penguin to a blue lion. Lion doesn’t want to eat Penguin. Finally Ben has had it. He lets loose and yells. The lion gobbles him up. Penguin finally does SOMETHING. He bites Lion on the nose and out pops Ben. Finally a speech bubble appears, but instead of words appear pictures of all the things Penguin and Ben have done together. And Ben understands what Penguin is saying.

One of my favorite funny books of the year! And kids who love their stuffed animals and believe they are real will LOVE this book.

I’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean
Written and illustrated by Kevin Sherry
Dial Books, 2007

The first thing I noticed about this picture book is the size. It is oversized. It’s a big book to hold. It is the perfect book for three year olds, but it almost too big for them to hold themselves.

A giant squid, up close and personal, appears on the cover. The endpapers are a fascinating two-color conglomeration of different animals in the ocean.
The whole books is told from the point of view of the giant squid, who brags about all of the animals that he can swallow because he’s the biggest thing in the ocean. The text is very simple and it repeats the same phrase over and over again, “I’m bigger than these ___________” Fill in the blank with various sea creatures that he eats.

Toddlers will love this book for several reasons: 1) It captures the way they think. They like to compare size of things, especially how they are bigger than _______ (fill in the blank).
2) Toddlers will love the oversize pictures that really make you feel like the giant squid is larger-than-life.
3) Toddlers will be able to “read” this book to themselves because the phrases repeat themselves and they can identify the pictures to fill in the blanks.

In the end, the giant squid gets eaten by a whale. For a short moment he realizes it’s possible he’s not so big after all. Then he gets a bright idea. He looks around at the contents of the whale’s stomach and realizes that, “I’m thing biggest thing in this whale!” It’s a laugh out loud funny book!
Both of these books were nominated in the Cybils fiction picture book category.