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Jen Robinson's Book Page - 5 new articles



Circle, Square, Moose: Kelly Bingham & Paul O. Zelinsky

Book: Circle, Square, Moose
Author: Kelly Bingham
Illustrator: Paul O. Zelinsky
Pages: 48
Age Range: 4-8

Circle, Square, Moose is a companion book to Z is for Moose, by Kelly Bingham and Paul O. Zelinsky. The premise for both books is that a narrator is trying to teach teach something (shapes, in Circle, Square, Moose), until said narrator is interrupted by a wayward Moose. Zebra attempts to tame Moose's bad behavior, but this only makes things get more out of hand, until the poor narrator just gives up. 

Circle, Square, Moose is just as funny as Z is for Moose. The goofy, determined Moose and the worried, cap-wearing Zebra's escapades are sure to entertain kids. And there is useful information in the book about shapes, though one has to remain a bit focused to read it. My favorite bit, I think, is when the narrator is using a sandwich to illustrate "square", and then Moose steals the sandwich, and chomps it into a triangle. A memorable way to think about transitions between shapes. 

This book is made to read aloud. Even though I was alone the first time I read through it, I still read it aloud. The narrator's protests are increasingly vehement, and call for dynamic vocalization on the part of the reader. It's a bit disjointed, sure, with interruptions to the narrative flow on every page, but it's pretty much the perfect combination of entertaining and informative. 

Zelinsky's mixed media illustrations capture the playfulness of the story, and Moose's irrepressible spirit. The variety of fonts and colors makes the book fairly busy, a daytime read rather than a quiet bedtime book. 

Circle, Square, Moose is more a book to read with slightly older kids than to read aloud to toddlers (who won't get the joke). But for pre-k listeners and up, Circle, Square, Moose is sure to be irresistible. I do think it's more of a one-on-one book than a group storytime book, though I would be interested to hear otherwise. In any case, Circle, Square, Moose is a surefire hit. Recommended!

Publisher: Greenwillow Books (@HarperChildrens
Publication Date: September 23, 2014
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon and iBooks affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).



Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: October 31

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Please note that I expanded upon most of the Growing Bookworms tweets that I shared this week in a separate post, and so have not re-shared them here. But I do have links related to book lists, the Cybils awards, diversity, gender, events, kidlitcon, the kidlitosphere, schools, and reading. 

Books and Book Lists

10 Picture Books to Scare Up Your Halloween Spirit selected by @rosemondcates #kidlit

Ten #kidlit titles from @TesseractViews in which a witch is a character with impact on the story 

This review @SunlitPages made me certain that we'll need a copy of Blizzard by John Rocco when it comes out 

Board Book Roundup: Fall 2014 Edition from Kitty Flynn @HornBook  #kidlit

‘Tis the Season: Holiday Stories for Young Readers (many w/ #diversity in culture) │ JLG | @sljournal 

Beyond the 'Problem Novel': Anti-Bullying Books 2014, by Alexis Burling in @PublishersWkly 

26 Perfect Read Alouds for Kindergarten selected by @PragmaticMom  #BookList #kidlit

Top Ten Children’s and Young Adult Books About Trees, Woods, or Forests by @muellerholly @NerdyBookClub 

Gallery: The New York Times 10 Best Illustrated Children’s Books of 2014 — @100scopenotes  #kidlit 

45 YA Titles for your October - December Radar from @catagator @bookriot  #YALit

The 2014 Kirkus Prize(s) have been announced, reports @bkshelvesofdoom 

Inspiring the Next Architects: Children’s Books About Design, Building, and Architecture @LEEandLOW @cynleitichsmith 

This is neat. An Infographic w/ timeline of YA historical fiction (starting in BC) by Epic Reads @bkshelvesofdoom

Top Ten YA Books that Tackle Love and Abuse by @mathangisub @NerdyBookClub #YALit


Today's featured #Cybils Review: Shh! We Have a Plan by Chris Haughton, reviewed by @100scopenotes 

Today's #Cybils Review #1 | How I Became a Pirate book app, reviewed by @cppotter 

Today's #Cybils review #2: El Deafo by Cece Bell, reviewed by Alysa @Everead  #GraphicNovel

Today's #Cybils Review: Kinda Like Brothers by Coe Booth, reviewed by Mark at Buxton's Blog O' Books 

Diversity + Gender

WNDBLogoSqaureThe scoop on the IndieGoGo campaign for #WeNeedDiverseBooks from @bkshelvesofdoom 

Blended and Bold: @dos_twinjas Top Ten List of Bi-Racial/Multi-Racial Main Characters in Spec Fic #BSFM 

Never Too Young To Be a Hero: @dos_twinjas Top Ten List of YA Black main characters in Speculative Ficition #BSFM 

Middle Graders Are Awesome Too!: @dos_twinjas Top 10 List of MG Books w/ AA Main Characters #BSFM 

Characters From The Motherland: @dos_twinjas Top Ten List of African Main Characters in Spec Fic #BSFM

Disability in recent Middle Grade and YA Speculative Fiction: a (short) list from @charlotteslib  #diversity

Have you seen the @realjohngreen video on why #WeNeedDiverseBooks ? 

#WeNeedDiverseBooks Indiegogo Campaign Aims to Raise $100K | @sljournal 

Has #WeNeedDiverseBooks changed you? @haleshannon asks writers, agents, librarians, bloggers, etc. 

14 Children's Books with Multiracial Families selected by @momandkiddo  #DiverseBooks #BookList

Guys Lit Wire: On the fine art (& frustration) of crafting a #diverse book list for teenagers from @chasingray 

Trinity syndrome and failed parody in The Lego Movie, on wasting potentially strong female characts @haleshannon 

Helping Readers Find Strong Girls on the Road to Katniss by Kate Hannigan @NerdyBookClub 

Events + Programs 

Guys Lit Wire: Sale books still left on the Ballou Sr HS library book fair wish list. Good books + cause  @chasingray

Press Release Fun from @FuseEight | Nominate a Literary Landmark 

Growing Bookworms

El Deafo, by Cece Bell, or why assuming that an 11-year-old boy wants only certain books is pointless @charlotteslib 

7 Ways to Get Your Kid to Read, guest post by F.T. Bradley @PragmaticMom 

7 Tips for Reading Aloud to Kids | @PreKPages #literacy


Nice surprise to find myself on this list: Where to Find a Good Children's Book from @SunlitPages  #kidlit

Oh yes, I can relate to these thoughts from Tanita Davis on accepting one's (introverted) limitations 

KidlitCon2014_cubeA Roundup of #KidLitCon 2014 posts from Finding Wonderland (Tanita Davis + @aquafortis) 

#KidLitCon 2014: A Retrospective, Part II from Tanita Davis - Reflections on Floating Heads + #diverse book covers 

Lots of interesting tidbits in Fusenews: Bemoaning, Lamenting, and Generally Carrying On — @fuseeight 

On Reading, Writing, and Publishing

Quick summary here in the Morning roundup @bkshelvesofdoom on Five recent YA thinkpieces 

11 Reasons Why Young Adult Fiction Is Even Better When You Read It As An Adult | Emma Lord @Bustle  @PWKidsBookshelf

Kids Should Feel Free to Read Kids' Books, Because That's What Kids Do | Emma Cueto in @Bustle  @PWKidsBookshelf

Young Adult Fiction Doesn't Need to Be a 'Gateway' to the Classics by Noah Berlatsky in @TheAtlantic  @PWKidsBookshelf

Rebecca Mead’s Takedown of Percy Jackson Is Wrong by Sarah Seltzer @Flavorwire  via @PWKidsBookshelf

Yes! "I truly believe that the most important thing we can give (kids) ... is a love of reading." from Becky Levine 

Yes we do, in fact, need negative book reviews says @tlt16  via @tashrow

Does YA Mean Anything Anymore?: Genre in a Digitized World - The Zena Sutherland Lecture by @realjohngreen @HornBook 

Schools and Libraries

The K.C. and S.F. public libraries are fighting on Twitter, and it's delightful | @Cut4 via @tashrow 

Why Are So Many Adults Threatened by Students Choosing Books? asks @thereadingzone 

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook



Charlie Bumpers vs. the Squeaking Skull: Bill Harley

Book: Charlie Bumpers vs. the Squeaking Skull
Author: Bill Harley
Illustrator: Adam Gustavson
Pages: 160
Age Range: 7-10

Charlie Bumpers vs. the Shrieking Skull is the third title in the Charlie Bumpers series of illustrated chapter books, written by Bill Harley and illustrated by Adam Gustavson. I have not read the first two books, but didn't find this to be a problem.

Fourth grader Charlie is excited when a friend invites him to a Halloween sleepover. He expects trick-or-treating in Alex's more upscale neighborhood to be more lucrative than usual, and he looks forward to NOT having to take his little sister out with him. But when Charlie learns that Alex plans to show a VERY scary movie that night, his enthusiasm wanes a bit. Luckily(?) Charlie's older brother undertakes a de-scaring regimen, to help Charlie learn not to be so frightened of scary stories. 

Charlie Bumpers vs. the Shrieking Skull seems well-suited to newer readers who are ready to move past easy readers and into chapter books. There are black and white illustrations sprinkled throughout the book, some woven in with the text. The chapters are fairly short (~3-6 pages), and the text spacing is wide. I didn't notice much in the way of challenging vocabulary. 

Charlie's fears and interests seem authentic for a fourth grader (and accessible to readers a bit younger), though his personality is perhaps a tad idealized. There's a scene near the end of the book in which he admits his fears to his friends, and is supported,that didn't quite read as authentic to me. Nice, but not quite authentic. But I am probably more cynical than members of the book's target audience.

Apart from that one point, I found Charlie Bumpers vs. the Squeaking Skull to be an enjoyable read, with a nice balance of Halloween-related drama and ordinary family and school interpersonal dynamics. Charlie's working mom is too busy to help him with his costume, and he has to make it at school. His older brother delights in scaring him. His younger sister complains and complains when he reveals his plan to not take her trick or treating, but clearly adores him. His dad likes to tease, threatening to go trick-or-treating in his underwear. 

Here are a couple of quotes:

"Right!" said Tommy, getting more excited. "The bigger the houses, the bigger the candy bars! Then maybe we'd have to carry extra bags for when the first ones got filled up. That would be stupendous."

"Terrific!" I said.

"Stupific!" Tommy said.

"Stupific!" I repeated. "That's hilarious." (Page 4)

Then they proceed to use "stupific" throughout the rest of the book. 

"Sure," I said. The plan sounded a little crazy, but when your best friend wants to be a werewolf, you help him be a werewolf." (Page 103) 

Gustavson's illustrations add some detail to the characters that is not necessarily revealed in the text (like the fact that Tommy seems to be African American). They also add to the Halloween creepiness of the book, by bringing to life Charlie's brother's scary story, the cover of the scary movie  that the kids are supposed to watch, and so on. The little sister comes across particularly well in the pictures, adding an extra touch of warmth to the story. 

Charlie Bumpers and the Squeaking Skull is a fun and age-appropriate book for second through fourth graders, perfect for reading during this Halloween week. 

Publisher: Peachtree Publishers 
Publication Date: September 1, 2014
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon and iBooks affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).



Some Recent Articles on Growing Bookworms

JRPB-URLonly-smallI wanted to do some sort of growing bookworms post for today, but nothing particular came to mind. Luckily, there has been a fine crop of posts on this subject from some of my favorite blogs this week. Thus instead of sharing my ideas, I will point you to theirs:

At What Do We Do All Day?, Erica shares her strategies for avoiding frustration/burnout in her relatively reluctant younger son's emergent reading. She offers a list of 10 alternatives to forcing your kids to learn to read. Personally, I think her hands-off approach, focused on maintaining a love for books, is the right way to go. Here's one example, a technique that I have employed myself, but do click through to the full post for more:

"When reading aloud, take an extra long pause before a word. I have to be casual about this so my son doesn’t catch on, but if I pause long enough, he gets impatient and I see him looking at the word to figure it out."

At Literacy, Families, and Learning, Trevor H. Cairney shares some detailed recommendations for parents and teachers who are working with their beginning readers on oral reading. He discusses reasons why one should (and should not) practice reading aloud with kids, how to select books, and concrete DOs and DON'Ts. He concludes that oral reading should be used in a postive way, and should "virtually never" be used as a test by parents.  

In a more off-the-cuff post than the previous two, Stacey Loscalzo muses on the joy of reading aloud. She says:

"I challenge us to ... ask our children to be children again and read aloud as often and long as we can. Even and especially after they can read to themselves because there is still something inherently important in hearing the written word spoke aloud." 

There was also an interesting discussion at A Fuse #8 Production earlier this week on whether (or when) it is rude to ask someone what their kids are reading now. Betsy Bird worries that:

"if used for evil instead of good, (asking what your child is reading) could act as an awfully effective way to engage in shaming your fellow parent."

At Growing Book by Book, as part of Sensory Processing Awareness month, Jodie Rodriguez writes about why her child can't sit still when they read. She offers  discussion and strategies. For example, this excellent point:

"If your child is comprehending what is read, does it really matter that they aren’t sitting still during the story?"

And there you have it. A few links of potential interest for those of us who are attempting to grow bookworms. 

And, ok, I do have one tiny literacy milestone to share that cropped us this afternoon. My daughter asked to read Naked! by Michael Ian Black and Debbie Ridpath Ohi, only our second read of this library book. Mid-way through, she pointed to a little cluster of toys in the foreground of the page. She said: "that doll and that potato were in I'm Bored!, except that the doll was wearing a different shirt." And sure enough, I looked back that the cover of I'm Bored! (by the same author and illustrator), and the doll in Naked! bears a strong resemblance to the little girl from I'm Bored! As does the potato.

This isn't quite a milestone, because she has certainly recognized characters from one book who crop up in another (most notably The Pigeon). But this one impressed me because it was so subtle, uncovered in a pair of books she didn't even know very well, and that had completely escaped me. I told her that I was impressed.

Yes, if you put enough books in front of your kids, they will start to notice details. Happy reading to all!

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook.



Harriet Can Carry It: Kirk Jay Mueller & Sarah Vonthron-Laver

Book: Harriet Can Carry It
Author: Kirk Jay Mueller
Illustrator: Sarah Vonthron-Laver
Pages: 40
Age Range: 4-8

Harriet Can Carry It, by Kirk Jay Mueller and Sarah Vonthron-Laver, is the story of a hard-working kangaroo mom whose attempt to take a day off to relax with her son is derailed by other animals. All Harriet wants to do is take her Joey, with some towels and the boy's favorite toy, to the beach. But she meets a series of pushy animals along the way, all expecting Harriet to carry their gear in her pouch. Eventually, they push poor Harriet too far, and she gives up. Fortunately another solution is found by the others, and Harriet and her Joey get their time alone). 

Mueller's text is mostly in rhyming couplets, with the notable exception of Harriet's attempts to protest, which are always cut off. Like this:

"It was old Wanda Wombat, so nosey and grouchy,
Asking, "That a beach towel hanging out of your pouchy?
Can I come to the beach? Can I come with YOU?
Will you carry my beach chair? Can I please come too?"

"W-e-l-l," Harriet hesitated.
"I don't know--"

"Of course I can," answered the pushy Wombat
"You have lots of room. You have loads of space
For tons of stuff in your big pouchy place.
The sun is so bright. The ocean's so blue.
YOU CAN CARRY IT, HARRIET, so I can come too.""

This text is repeated, with minor variations (different types of animals, different types of gear, different adjectives for the pushy Wombat), throughout the book. The animals are all Australian natives, mostly marsupials, as is explained in a handy "Animal Facts" glossary at the end of the book. I wasn't aware that "Australia has about 200 species of marsupials." Of course most of them probably don't have beach towels and kayaks in their pouches. Still, it's nice to see an introduction to different types of animals from the usual bears, elephants, giraffes, etc. 

I also appreciated Mueller's use of descriptive vocabulary words like "trudged" and "bossy". And while Harriet Can Carry It has not a whiff of didacticism, one could use it to discuss that with kids the idea that it is ok to say no when people are making unreasonable requests. 

Vonthron-Laver's watercolor illustrations are bright and colorful, conveying the heat of a summer's day, the green of the countryside, and the exhaustion of poor Harriet. Her lumpy pouchy, with various beach items sticking out, will resonate with moms everywhere (the designated toters of family items). Harriet Can Carry It made me want to go to the beach, with nothing but a book and a towel.

Harriet Can Carry It is an entertaining picture book that introduces kids to marsupials in a light, yet memorable manner. It would make a fun read-aloud for schools or libraries. Recommended. 

Publisher: Star Bright Books (@StarBrightBooks)
Publication Date: October 1, 2014
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon and iBooks affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).