Category Archives: Picture books

#365PictureBooks No.50 The Beatles were fab (and they were funny)

“Q: How do you find all this business of having screaming girls following you all over the place?
George: Well, we feel flattered . . .
John: . . . and flattened.

When the Beatles burst onto the music scene in the early 1960s, they were just four unknown lads from Liverpool. But soon their off-the-charts talent and offbeat humor made them the most famous band on both sides of the Atlantic. Lively, informative text and expressive, quirky paintings chronicle the phenomenal rise of Beatlemania, showing how the Fab Four’s sense of humor helped the lads weather everything that was thrown their way—including jelly beans”. Publisher

I discovered this book on my quest for more picture book biographies to use with our PYP : How we express ourselves units of inquiry. I’ve been trying to widen the scope of our collection in the arts area by including books on the different types of art forms including music and dance.  This book is great introduction to one of the most well known rock and roll bands of all time for children, so you won’t find information here about their dabbling in drugs or spiritual awakening. There is plenty describing their early years, from first getting together in Liverpool and naming their band through to all the heady years of Beatlemania. The book describes how their quirky and intelligent sense of humour helped them cope with the rigours of new found fame and the pressures on their friendship. Interestingly, you can see how the older generation of the time would have found this type of humour silly but to me it seems very clever.

Photo source: http://www.stacyinnerst.com/stacyinnerst.com/SI_Beatles_Naming_the_Band.html

The full colour illustrations are outstanding and when I looked through the book I noticed these first before reading the text in a second sitting.  The cover with its sunny yellow cover almost commands the reader to pick this off the shelf. The book would be excellent shared between those of us who were alive when the Beatles were at their peak and a new generation of kids who are still hearing some of these songs today. Great to pair with a standard non-fiction informational text like the Story of rock and roll – picture book biographies like this one really bring the musicians to life. I think playing some of the songs before or after reading would help deepen the connections.

This picture book could also be used as part of a Unit on then and now – looking at the differences of 50 years ago and today, to show children how music and teenage life have changed between their grandparents era and theirs.

Bibliographic details:

The Beatles were fab (and they were funny) / Written by Kathleen Krull & Paul Brewer and illustrated by Stacy Innerst

Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.

40 pages

ISBN: 9780547509914

I borrowed this copy from Auckland Libraries but I have just ordered a copy for our school library.

#365PictureBooks No. 48 Construction by Sally Sutton

Hoist the wood. Hoist the wood. Chain and hook and strap. Swing it round, then lower it down. Thonk! Clonk! Clap! Build the frame. Build the frame. Hammer all day long. Make the stairs and floors and walls. Bing! Bang! Bong!

I read this book to some classes with lots of wriggly, hot and bothered boys today and it was perfect. Everyone, both girls and boys, had stories to share about everything to do with building, construction, their experiences with people who wear fluro safety vests – most kids had some sort of experience with home renovations and some lived in suburbs where new public library buildings had recently opened. We talked very conversationally about our library building and the differences between a school library and a public one. Sometimes I really enjoy the library read aloud sessions where it is a little unplanned and casual, and we end up having open conversations. Both of Sally’s books in this series (Road works and Demolition) were checked out after this one was read and both by girls!

Bibliographic details:

Construction / Written by Sally Sutton and Illustrated by Brian Lovelock.

Published by Walker Books, 2014.

ISBN:9781922077301

#365PictureBooks No. 47 Naked!

A hilarious new book about a boy who refuses to wear clothes, from comedian Michael Ian Black and illustrator Debbi Ridpath Ohi, the team that brought you I’m Bored, a New York Times Notable Children’s Book.

Michael Ian Black and Debbie Ridpath Ohi, whose “smart cartoony artwork matches Black’s perfect comic timing” (The New York Times Book Review), have paired up again to showcase the antics of an adorable little boy who just doesn’t want to get dressed.

After his bath, the little boy begins his hilarious dash around the house – in the buff! Being naked is great. Running around, sliding down the stairs, eating cookies. Nothing could be better. Unless he had a cape..Publisher

This would be such a fun read aloud, even in a school library. I loved the time when my own children were toddlers and there was a little fun relaxed interlude of running around NAKED! after the bath and before being forced into into jammies. This book captures that interlude perfectly. The little child is delighting in his freedom but the look on the mothers face will be familiar to many parents…”I am going through all the steps until I get you into bed …aka I’m exhausted”! The comic style artwork of this is absolutely perfect with the style and pacing of the text.

Cute and funny and kids will love this!

Bibliographic details:

Naked! / Written by Michael Ian Black and Illustrated by Debbie Ridpath Ohi.

Published by Simon & Schuster, 2014.

40 pages.

ISBN 9781442467385

I borrowed this copy from Auckland Libraries.

#365PictureBooks no. 46 I and I : Bob Marley by Tony Medina

Brimming with imagination and insight, this biography of reggae legend Bob Marley features soulful, sun-drenched paintings that transport young readers to Marley’s homeland of Jamaica, while uniquely perceptive poems bring to life his journey from boy to icon“. Publisher

At first glance I thought this picture book featured the lyrics of Bob Marley, however reading it once I had arrived home from the Public Library, led to the delightful discovery that the author has written the story of the life of Bob Marley in free verse. I didn’t know much about Bob Marley before reading this book and I suspect many kids won’t know his name these days unless they are familiar with his enduring and very catchy lyrics.

For our students that inquire into different forms of artistic expression through their PYP : How we express ourselves unit of inquiry, music is one area I need to resource more fully. I’ve recently bought some multiple user ebooks on hip-hop because we had a hole in our collection in that subject and I can see some books on reggae would be a good addition too. I’ve had some interesting conversations with our Music and Performing arts specialists recently – one part of our teaching team that I think has been overlooked in our resourcing mix in the past. I think they deserve some resources that they can use to paint a very holistic picture of any artist – musical or visual – when they are teaching about styles and movements.

I love this…and when the verse is combined with the warm, ocherish, plump illustrations, the words and pictures paint a very vivid picture of the boy, the man and the musician.

Mama just a caramel country girl shy as can be

And Papa many many years older than she

Papa is a white man so I’ve been told

My face a map of Africa in Europe’s hold

My heart the island where he and she both meet…

From “My heart the Island”

I found this perceptive review from Elizabeth Bird at NY Public Library. (My goodness she can write – one of the best book reviewers out there imo)

Bibliographic details:

I and I : Bob Marley / Written by Tony Medina and illustrated by Jesse Joshua Watson.

Published by Lee & Low Books, 2009.

48 pages.

ISBN:9781600602573

This is available via back order on Wheelers – NZ $36.99, but I borrowed this copy from Auckland Libraries.

#365PictureBooks No. 44 Red : a crayon’s story

Red has a bright red label, but he is, in fact, blue. His teacher tries to help him be red (let’s draw strawberries!), his mother tries to help him be red by sending him out on a playdate with a yellow classmate (go draw a nice orange!), and the scissors try to help him be red by snipping his label so that he has room to breathe. But Red is miserable. He just can’t be red, no matter how hard he tries! Finally, a brand-new friend offers a brand-new perspective, and Red discovers what readers have known all along. He’s blue! This funny, heartwarming, colourful picture book about finding the courage to be true to your inner self can be read on multiple levels, and it offers something for everyone!” Goodreads

I have just ordered this for our picture book collection. It’s going to be a great title to use to to inspire thought and provoke conversations about identity and diversity. This seems such a simple message and one kids will get a lot more quickly than most adults and politicians. This should be compulsory reading for the adults in this world who just don’t understand that difference isn’t a lifestyle choice.

It’s about being true to your inner self.” (Author)

Teacher’s guide

And for curious children wondering how crayons are made:

Bibliographic details:

Red : a crayon’s story / Written and illustrated  by Michael Hall.

Published by Greenwillow Books, 2015.

40 pages.

ISBN:9780062252074

#365PictureBooks no. 43 Love monster & the last chocolate

A delicious new story about Love Monster, the only monster in Cutesville, from phenomenal, award-winning picture book talent Rachel Bright!

When Love Monster finds a mystery box of chocolates at his door, he can’t believe his luck. But he’s soon thrown into a whirlwind of turmoil. Should he keep the chocolates for himself? Or risk the perils of sharing his good fortune with his friends?

This super-funny-rumbly-tummy-sherbert-explosion of a story shows that when faced with the selection box of life, following your heart will bring you the best treats of all”. Publisher.

This cute story was my read aloud today for a Year 1 Class as a tie in to the weekend Valentine’s Day celebration. It’s sweet without being saccharine and has a welcome message about sharing with your friends. I love how the monster expresses feelings so familiar to children “…what if there aren’t enough chocolates for everyone, what if they take MY favourite?” As we talked about these and other things, little heads were nodding in agreement.

The book almost looks like a chocolate with a metallic foil print on the cover. As I was reading it I was envisioning those strawberry flavoured, heart shaped chocolates one used to get in a box of Cadbury Roses. Yum!

Bibliographic details:

Love monster and the last chocolate (Love monster, #3)

Written and illustrated by Rachel Bright.

Published by HarperCollins, 2014.

32 pages.

ISBN:9780007540303

I picked up this copy from a Scholastic Book Fair – I must seek out the other two titles – I didn’t realise this was part of a series.

#365PictureBooks no. 42 Looking like me by Walter Dean Myers

When you look in a mirror, who do you see?

A boy? A girl?
A son? A daughter?
A runner? A dancer?

Whoever and whatever you see–
just put out your fist and give yourself an “I am” BAM!

This jumping, jazzy, joyful picture book by the award-winning team of Walter Dean and Christopher Myers celebrates every child, and every thing that child can be“.

I picked this up at the public library thinking from the cover it was going to be about race or cultural identity. Turns out it’s more about identity and self affirmation in general – and very much about self esteem. Every time Jeremy declares something positive about himself, his talents and his abilities, his relationships with others he gives himself or the other person a fist bump. This could be an interesting provocation to use at the start of the year and could lead to some insightful art work by children. Useful for PYP : Who we are inquiry.

Read Betsy Bird’s great review on Goodreads

Bibliographic details:

Looking like me by Walter Dean Myers and illustrated by Christopher Myers.

Published by Egmont, 2009.

32 pages.

ISBN:9781606840016

I borrowed this copy from Auckland Libraries