June 2014 BOB Picture Books


Spires, Ashley. The Most Magnificent Thing. Toronto: Kids Can Press, 2014. 978-1-55453-704-4. 32 p. $16.95. Gr. K-2.
A little girl and her dog, “her best friend in the whole wide world,” do everything together—including making the most magnificent thing. They gather supplies, make a spot to work, and create…something. It’s definitely not magnificent. The little girl tosses it aside and begins again, trying a different approach. After several attempts, she still hasn’t created a magnificent product and is extremely frustrated. Her dog “suggests” a walk, and as they walk through the neighborhood she calms down and goes past the line of tossed aside products. She realized that bits and pieces of all of them are “quite right,” and after one final attempt, she and her dog are cruising down the sidewalk in her most magnificent thing. Bravo, Ashley Spires—this book is magnificent. The story is basic but important. The little girl follows the process of creation, from making a plan to several revisions. She doesn’t give up even when frustrated. This book would make a wonderful read-aloud with a follow-up discussion on perseverance. The illustrations are also fantastic. Set on clean white backgrounds with black line drawings of settings, the little girl and her dog (and his hilarious facial expressions) really stand out.
Picture Book                                      Lindsey Long, Nye & Conewago Elementary Schools


Hills, Tad. Duck & Goose Go to the Beach. New York: Schwartz & Wade Books, 2014.  978-0-385-37235-0. 32 p. $17.99. Gr. PreS-2.
Duck and Goose are back! This tale finds Duck longing to go “away,” so Goose grudgingly follows Duck as they walk through the meadow, climb to the top of the highest hill, and get a glimpse of the beach. Duck, of course, takes off for the beach and Goose is forced to follow, but the two friends have a wonderful day at the beach making new friends, exploring, and enjoying the delights of the seashore. As much fun as they’ve had, they realize that there’s no place like home and the two friends head back to the meadow.  Duck and Goose are delightful friends and my students always enjoy a new story about the pair. Hills shows so much expression in both Duck and Goose and the illustrations are full of humor, like when they are almost pinched by a crab and are wiped out by a wave. This would be a great story to read at the end of the school year during a unit on the beach or ocean, or a unit on friendship and compromise (Duck and Goose stories are fantastic for this purpose).
Picture Book               Lindsey Long, Nye & Conewago Elementary Schools


Campbell, K. G. The Mermaid and the Shoe. Toronto: Kids Can Press, 2014.   978-1-55453-771-6. 32 p. $16.95. Gr. 1-4.
Minnow the mermaid lives underwater with her father, King Triton, and her 49 amazing sisters. They all have special talents but the only thing that Minnow has is lots of questions. One day, she finds a lovely red shoe and becomes determined to discover its purpose. She sets out on an adventure and learns a bit about the world above her; she also learns something about herself. Her true talent is her curiosity and willingness to explore, and she goes home to share her gifts with her family. This story is a bit reminiscent of the classic tale The Little Mermaid, minus the romantic storyline. The story is lovely and could spark conversations about children’s unique talents. Kids will love Minnow and the illustrations alone make the book worth a second look. Campbell’s artwork is beautiful and the colors of the book shift as Minnow moves from the dark depths of the sea to the bright world above water. It’s a must buy!
Picture Book             Lindsey Long, Nye & Conewago Elementary Schools


Robinson, Sharon, illustrated by Ford, AG. Under the Same Sun. New York: Scholastic Press, 2014. 978-0545-16672-0. 40 p. $17.99. Gr. K-2.

Under the Same Sun is based on the author’s experience of visiting her brother’s family in Tanzania. The lavish colored illustrations tell the story of a family that lives apart, but together under the same sun. Slavery is mentioned in how the ancestors were taken from their country and forced into working the cotton fields in America. The darkness of that act is shown with a cautious optimism as the family moves forward with love and hope for the future. Throughout the story Swahili, the official language of Tanzania is connected to the dialogue. The end of the book has pictures of the trip that Under the Same Sun was based upon as well as a translation of the Swahili words written in the story.
Picture Book, Realistic Fiction                   Kelsey DeStevens


Saxby, Claire; illustrated by Allen, Cassandra. There Was an Old Sailor. Toronto: Kids  Can Press, 2014. 978-1-77138-022-5. 32 p. $16.95. Gr. K-2.
With the same vein as There was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly, There Was and Old Sailor, features an unassuming character who decides to swallow strange things. Some of the aquatic objects featured are krill, shark, seal, and squid. The book does have a fact about each of the animals that the sailor swallows and this could help to introduce an ocean animal research project. This has the same charm as the book it was inspired by and will have the best affect as a real aloud.
Picture Book             Kelsey DeStevens


Kemp, Anna; illustrated by Ogilvie, Sara. The Worst Princess. New York: Random House, 2014. 978-0385-37125-4. 32 p. $16.99. Gr. K-3.
The Worst Princess takes the tropes of a fairy tale and throws them sideways. You are introduced to a princess who has spent her time waiting patiently for a prince to rescue her, only to find out the prince is simply another vehicle of capture. Unhappy with her new tower (prison) the princess takes action and allies with a dragon to escape so that she may have her own adventures and be free. It’s a humorous read aloud and would be great to stimulate students into creative thinking. You could provide them with a prompt about making their own spin of the fairy tale and offer different tools to express their story, writing, videos, art, etc.
Picture Book, Fantasy                      Kelsey DeStevens


Kuhlmann, Torben.  Lindbergh, The Tale of a Flying Mouse.  New York: NorthSouth Publishing, 2014. 978-0-7358-4167-3 96p.  $119.95. Gr. K+.
This phenomenal book is a work of art.  Not only does it inspire the reader to dream it creates a world through intricate and beautiful illustrations.  What if Charles Lindbergh was actually inspired by a flying mouse? What if the mouse dared to dream of a new life and made it happen?  The text provides a story of overcoming the odds, dreaming and inventing while being inspired.  The illustrations not only support the text by add another dimension to the story, providing more detail and inspiring creative thinking and problem solving.  The connections that can be made through this book can cross many curricular areas and also inspire creative writing.  I highly recommend this book for every grade level.
Picture Book                     Denise Naumann, Eisenhower Elementary


Bar-el, Dan.  A Fish Named Glub. Tonawanda, New York: Kids Can Press, 2014. 978-155453-812-6. 32p. $16.95. Pre K-3
Ok…. another character who is asking the meaning of life. This time it is Glub, the fish. Glub lives in a greasy spoon type diner with his new owner, Foster. Foster’s family complains about a fish in the diner until special things start to happen. At the end of most meaning of life stories there is a happy ending and this is no exception.  Reviews: School Library Journal, Kirkus, Publisher’s Weekly.
Picture Book    Lourie Stewart, Dunbar Township/Dunbar Borough Elementary Schools


Rosenstock, Barb. The Noisy Paint Box. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2014.  978-0307-97848-6. 40 p. $17.99. PreK and up.
Vasya Kandinsky was a proper little boy raised with all of the best Russia had to offer. His family made sure he knew music and art and they expected him to be all things proper. Well proper is not always the best way to do things. Vasya opened his first paint box to find paints that spoke to him. They sounded as the orchestra did when the musicians were warming up to start the concert. As he continued to grow up the paints spoke to him from the paint box.  Finally, he could take it no more and began painting. He grew to become one of the first abstract artist the 20th century and the world knew.   Kudos to Barb Rosenstock for blending fiction with fact: joining the life of Vasya Kandinsky with his paintings. After the story has ended, she has a short bio of Kandinsky in her author’s notes along with sources for further information gathering.   Reviews: Kirkus, Booklist and others. Barb Rosenstock website:  arbrosenstock.com/html/books.htmlAccelerated Reader Quiz available. In addition to a picture book story, I would highly recommend this to middle school art teachers as a source for abstract art.
Juvenile Fiction: Biography and Art.           Lourie Stewart, Dunbar Township/Dunbar Borough Elementary Schools


Say, Allen. The Favorite Daughter. New York: Arthur A. Levine Books, 2013. 978-0-545-17662-0. 30 p. $17.99, Reading Level: 2.3 Interest Level: ages 5-8.
Yuriko is not happy about a lot of things at school and at home. She doesn’t like art anymore because the new art teacher is different from the last teacher. The art teacher misprounces her name and the class begin calling her “Eureka”, they do projects in class rather than draw, and generally she wants to change everything about herself.  With her father’s patience and guidance, Yuriko learns that different is not bad and that much can be learned by others who think foreign customs are different.  A wonderful book about Father-daughter relationship, family heritage, and bullying in school. As in all of Allen Say’s books, his art is wonderful and a very important part of his story telling ability. Reviews: Kirkus, New York Times. Includes an Accelerated Reader Quiz.
Juvenile Fiction                 Lourie Stewart, Dunbar Township/Dunbar Borough Elementary Schools

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