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Jen Robinson's Book Page - 5 new articles



Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: July 31

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Topics this week include the Amelia Elizabeth Walden award, book lists, growing bookworms, World Read Aloud Day, Read Where You Are, book donation, Legos, summer learning loss, KidLitCon, time management, schools, libraries, reading, publishing, bookstores, and parenting. 

Book Lists and Awards

Congratulations to @AS_King - 2015 Amelia Elizabeth Walden award winner for GLORY O'BRIEN'S HISTORY OF THE FUTURE from @lbkids 

Everybody into the pool! Two Picture Books about Swimming in Swimming Pools @randomlyreading 

Suggestions from @kateywrites | #RaisingReaders Monday: 5 Fantastic Picture Books to Give College-Bound Kids 

Picture books that draw the line against pink stereotypes of girls | @GuardianBooks  #kidlit

Nice categorized picture book list by @lisagkropp @sljournal | A #Diverse #BookList for the Under-Five Set 

New #BookList from @mrskatiefitz | Story Time Secrets: 10 Picture Books About Ducks & Geese 

Downloadable #BookList compiled by @ImaginationSoup | The 50 Best Books for 5- and 6-Year-Olds @ReadBrightly 

New #BookList from @CBCBook #WeNeedDiverseBooks | 7 Books About Growing Up Asian-American I Wish I’d Had As a Kid 

Best Children's Books of the Year So Far according to @Amazon editors, lists by age range  via @100scopenotes #kidlit 

A selection of books that are about, in, or around Brooklyn | We got your Brooklyn #booklist right here @HornBook 

Another #BookList from @TesseractViews A Tuesday Ten: Speculative #GraphicNovels for 2015 

Stacked: Prima Ballerinas: A #YALit Reading List from @catagator  #BookList

eBooks and Apps 

From @Kschwart @MindShiftKQED | Teacher Recommended: 50 Favorite Classroom Apps 

Events + Programs

LitworldWRAD15logo-webRT @MrsPStorytime: It's on the calendar! "@MrSchuReads: Save the Date! February 24, 2016 is World Read Aloud Day!  #ReadingSummit

RT @NCFL: Open a book, turn on your eReader & #ReadWhereYouAre w a loved one! Join our day of action → 

Update to story on sending boy books w/ mailing info Boy Who Couldn’t Afford Books Asks Mailman For Junk Mail To Read 

I love programs like this: Washington D.C. Vending Machines Free Books for Kids by @dianapearl_ @people 

An interesting event for aspiring picture book writers (Oct. 3) | @PictureBkSummit | Picture Book Summit 2015 

Growing Bookworms

From audiobooks to the library to family movie night: 9 Family #Literacy Activities from @growingbbb 

Legos are a huge hit in my house, too: 26 Lego Activities that Build Reading and Writing Skills @growingbbb  

Teachers: "If we are going to instill a love for reading in our students, we have to" ... Read for Fun 

Bedtime Stories: The Key to a Better Night’s Sleep for Both Kids and Parents | @ReadBrightly 

Great new resource from @cybils category chair @mrskatiefitz Review Round-Up: Books for Beginning Readers, July 2015 

Adventures in #Literacy Land: Five Reasons Poor Children Suffer More from Summer Learning Loss 

"Choice is critical" | Avoiding the Summer Slide: Pain or Pleasure by @vrkimmel @nerdybookclub 


2015-KidLitConLogoSquareHey there #kidlit + #YALit bloggers. Have YOU registered for #KidLitCon 2015? Early registration discount ends 8/15 

Friday night at #KidLitCon, we’ll be hosting a birthday party for @Cybils | Come to @KidLitCon - We Have Cake! 

Kudos to our first bowling lane sponsor for the @Cybils 10th birthday party at #KidLitCon | Thanks @ChronicleKids  

For #KidLitCon attendees who can stay an extra day, we’re planning a tour for Sunday, October 11: Tour Baltimore 

For a laugh: Children’s Lit Commish: All New Picture Books Must Be Illustrated With Spirograph — @100scopenotes 


Top Ten Lessons Elephant & Piggie Have Taught Us by Jen Terry & Jacquie Eckert @NerdyBookClub  @The_Pigeon

Rather than say, "I don't have time," say, "This isn't a priority" Time Management Tuesday: What's My Priority Today? 

Some valid points here (via @fairrosa ): No, It’s Not Your Opinion. You’re Just Wrong @jefrouner 

On Reading, Writing, Blogging, and Publishing

Nice to see @wimpykid 's new store is doing well ‘Wimpy Kid’ buys author Jeff Kinney his dream bookstore @BostonGlobe 

Strong releases plus #CommonCore | Is Children's Nonfiction Having Its Moment? asks Judith Rosen @PublishersWkly  

Nice @FastCompany article about benefits of reading more | How Changing Your Reading Habits Can Transform Your Health 

With challenge for @100scopenotes ? Finding the Funny: The Newbery Award + Various Works of Hilarity — @fuseeight 

Writing Picture Books. Or Not. Interesting tidbits gleaned by @gail_gauthier from article at @katmhawthorne 

Nine Blogs I Visit For Book Recommendations (For Me) from Amy @SunlitPages Where do you go for recs beyond #kidlit ? 


Some good general advice in: 6 Things I Wish I Had Never Told My Children | @ravishlydotcom @HuffPostParents  

Schools and Libraries

RT @RosaIsiah: Why a 'Growth Mindset' Won't Work. Could it be the adults? Link via @educationweek great article @PeterMDeWitt ! #WeLeadEd

When Students Design Their School: If You Give a Kid a LEGO, He's Going to Ask For...  @KleinErin

All Those Techies Who Predicted the Demise of the Public Library Were Wrong | @Alternet  via @tashrow

From a teacher: Why I Will NOT Pick My Students' Books For Them Anymore  #SummerReading

Today’s Exhausted Superkids: @FrankBruni in @NYTimes responds to new book "Overloaded and Underprepared" about teens 

© 2015 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



Piper Green and the Fairy Tree: Books 1 and 2: Ellen Potter

Books: Piper Green and the Fairy Tree and Piper Green and the Fairy Tree: Too Much Good Luck 
Author: Ellen Potter
Illustrator: Qin Leng
Pages: 112 / 128
Age Range: 7-9

Piper Green and the Fairy Tree is the first book in a fun new illustrated early chapter book series written by Ellen Potter and illustrated by Qin Leng. Piper is a second grader who lives on tiny Peek-a-Boo Island, which is apparently off the coast of Maine. Because there are only eight K-8 kids on Peek-a-Boo island, Piper rides a lobster boat every day to attend school on the slightly larger Mink Island. She also has a Fairy Tree in her front yard. 

Piper reminds me quite a lot of Clementine. She gets funny ideas in her head, and doesn't hesitate to speak her mind. Her enthusiasms sometimes get her into trouble. Her trials in the series opener include her sadness over the departure of her older brother, who has gone to live on the mainland to attend high school, and her adjustment to having a new, slightly crabby, teacher. But the Fairy Tree, discovered via the guidance of a quirky elderly neighbor, offers a significant consolation. 

Here are a couple of snippets, to give you a feel for Piper's voice:

"I tried not to look over at the empty chair. It's the chair that Erik usually sits in. But my eyes have a mind of their own. They peeked.

It was the saddest-looking empty chair I had ever seen." (Page 10)


"Leo (Piper's little brother) tells everyone that he is married. His wife is named Michelle and she is a piece of paper. Their children are three yellow Post-it notes that he stuck on Michelle." (Page 16)

Qin Leng's black and white illustrations show Piper as tow-headed and a bit dirty, with (at least at times) a stubborn set to her posture. There are lovely maps of the islands at the front of the book, sure to fascinate young readers. 

I think that the romance of Piper's island life, combined with the magic of the Fairy Tree, make Piper Green and the Fairy Tree highly kid-friendly. There are also delicious baked goods, adorable kittens, and comfortable friendships. As a special bonus for me, a New England transplant, there are people who say "wicked" (meaning "excellent"). (All that is missing is references to watching the Red Sox. Perhaps in later books...)

Book 2, Piper Green and the Fairy Tree: Too Much Luck picks up shortly after Book 1. Piper thinks that she is having a great day when she has not one, two, or three but FOUR pieces of good luck. Unfortunately, her friend Jacob tells her that according to his dad, "four lucky things is TOO MUCH good luck. And too much good luck equals bad luck." 

New trials include the finding of only one earring (vs. a pair) in the Fairy Tree, and, more importantly, the arrival of a new student who is allergic to Piper's beloved class pet. Piper's attempt to scare the new student away does not go well, but it all turns out ok in the end. As a parent, I like that all of Piper's authority figures come down hard on her - reasonable punishment and profuse apologies are a given.

Here's my favorite quote from Book 2:

""Ruby, Ruby! Guess what?" I ran right up to her and did a binky. A binky is this thing that Nacho does when he's happy. Nacho is our class bunny and he is the sweetest, most adorable bunny you have ever seen in your life. When he does a binky, he pops right up in the air and kicks out his hind legs. Ruby and I started doing binkies, too, whenever we're happy. It makes you look like a total madman, but we don't care." (Page 28-29)

Side bonus_ a cheerful illustration of Piper and Ruby doing binkies, while a younger boy hides under the slide, watching. Incidentally, small islands off the coast of Maine are not likely to be bastions of diversity, but as another small bonus, Leng has rendered Ruby Asian-American. 

I think that the Piper Green series is a promising addition to the ranks of early chapter books. Librarians serving new readers will definitely want to take a look at these. The setting is inherently interesting, and there's just the tiniest hint of magic to add an extra thrill. Piper is not a very "girly" girl, and I see no reason why boys wouldn't enjoy this series just as much as girls do. There are boats, and smelly fish, donuts, and class pets. What's not to love? Recommended for newly independent readers, age 7 to 9. 

Publisher: Yearling Books (Knopf Books for Young Readers) (@RandomHouseKids)  
Publication Date: August 4, 2015
Source of Book: Review copies from the publisher

© 2015 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 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).



Growing Bookworms Newsletter: July 29

JRBPlogo-smallToday, I will be sending out a new issue of the Growing Bookworms email newsletter. (If you would like to subscribe, you can find a sign-up form here.) The Growing Bookworms newsletter contains content from my blog focused on children's and young adult books and raising readers. I usually send the newsletter out every two weeks.

Newsletter Update: In this issue I have four book reviews (picture book and YA). I also have two posts with literacy and reading links that I shared on Twitter recently, and one post about a new literacy milestone for my daughter (giving books to others as gifts).

Reading Update: In the past two weeks I finished two middle grade titles and one adult title. I read/listened to:

  • Linda Urban: Milo Speck, Accidental Agent. HMH Kids. Middle Grade Fiction. Completed July 19, 2015. Review to come, closer to publication.
  • Annie Barrows: Magic in the Mix. Bloomsbury USA Children's Books. Middle Grade Fiction. Completed July 28, 2015. Library copy. Review to come. 
  • Tana French: In the Woods. Penguin Books. Adult Mystery. Completed July 24, 2015, on MP3. This was a re-listen, after about 7 years, after having more recently listened to the others in the series. It held my attention despite my remembering the ending. 

I'm listening to Land of Careful Shadows by Suzanne Chazin, reading Loyalty by Ingrid Thoft on my Kindle, and reading Piper Green and the Fairy Tree by Ellen Potter in print. Despite the appeal of summer reading in concept, I don't seem to be prioritizing reading as much as usual. And when I do make the time, I have difficulty staying awake. So my reading totals have been a bit lower than I would like. [For some thoughts on admitting that you aren't prioritizing vs. just saying that you don't have time, see this post by Gail Gauthier.]

The books my husband and I have been reading to our daughter can be found here. She was sick for a week or so with a virus. She's fine now, but for the first few days, all she wanted to do was have someone read to her. Her babysitter basically read to her all day -- too many books for me to even document. They read mostly picture books, but also some Arthur chapter books and a couple of Critter Club books. My daughter recently declared her favorite book to be A Fine Dessert by Emily Jenkins and Sophie Blackall

What are you and your family reading these days? Thanks for reading the newsletter, and for growing bookworms. 

© 2015 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



Rico the Brave Sock Monkey: Fiona Rempt & Noelle Smit

Book: Rico the Brave Sock Monkey
Author: Fiona Rempt
Illustrator: Noelle Smit
Pages: 24
Age Range: 2-5

Rico the Brave Sock Monkey is a lovely Little Golden Book by Fiona Rempt and Noelle Smit. It was originally published in Amsterdam in 2009, and brought to the US in 2013 by Golden Books. It's the story of a stuffed sock monkey who becomes the best friend of a brown-eyed boy. Rico is brave through various adventures (being shipped to the toy store, brought home to the boy, etc.), but does become scared when the boy, growing up, puts him on a shelf in a closet. There is a happy ending for Rico, however, and he ends up "the happiest sock monkey in the world, and ... afraid of almost nothing."

Rico the Sock Monkey is a straightforward story, told from the third person perspective of Rico in moderate detail. Like this:

"One day in a faraway toy factory, a sock monkey was born.

As he was being stuffed and s stitched
loud noises crashed around him, and
machines swung and rocked him back
and forth. The factory looked like a 
haunted house, but the little sock
monkey was not afraid."

Young readers will feel for Rico when he is placed in the dark closet, and rejoice when he comes out again. Rico is interested in everything around him, and, like all toys in children's book, just wants to be loved. Rico the Sock Monkey is reminiscent of the movie Toy Story 3, with a similar theme, but is, of course, a quieter story. 

Smit's illustrations add to the warm feel of the book. They have that flat, Gold Book look. and an old-fashioned feel despite the fact that the book is fairly recent. The scene in which Rico is hugged by the boy for the first time would make anyone smile, as will Rico's happy scene at the end of the book. 

Rico the Sock Monkey is a quiet little book that celebrates the bond between child and toy, from the perspective of an appealing little toy sock monkey. I hope that this book, like Rico, finds its way into homes where children will love it. I know I do. 

Publisher: Little Golden Books (@RandomHouseKids
Publication Date: August 6, 2013
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 2015 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).



Literacy Milestone: Giving Books As Gifts

LiteracyMilestoneAMy daughter has been receiving books as gifts for her whole life, of course. And she has occasionally suggested books as a birthday gift to one of her friends. But this morning she wrapped up two books, separately, and gave them to me as presents. I believe that this is the first time she's given a book as a gift, completely on her own. Of course they were books from her own bookshelves, but still, the thought was there. And she knew that books are my favorite things to receive as gifts. 

Ironically, the first package contained a book that I wrote about in an early post called: A Tip for Growing Bookworms: Avoid Bookshaming (in which I had criticized a book that my daughter liked, and then felt badly about it: Barbie: My Fabulous Friends). Now, 18 months later, she admitted that she was giving this one to me because she finds the story (or lack thereof) a bit boring. So, not the most selfless of gifts. 

But the second package was a different story. She enlisted my husband's help to find a particular title from her many shelves. And what she came up with was a book called Just Like Mama, by Leslea Newman and Julia Gorton. She taped her own label onto the outside of the package, and shyly pointed out that the mama on the cover has brown hair like me, and the daughter has lighter hair, like her. She was very pleased with herself. 

I'm pretty sure that my daughter was motivated at least in part by a wish to practice her gift-wrapping skills (there was pink wrapping paper with cupcakes on it involved). But she understands that books make fine gifts, and that books are something that I value. And I think she even learned, between package 1 and package 2, something about how much better it feels to give a more thoughtful gift than otherwise. I'd say the whole exchange was well worth getting a late start on my exercise today.  

Wishing you all a book-filled, present-filled weekend. 

© 2015 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.