Note to Readers

I have not received any compensation for writing this post other than a free digital or print copy of the book. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Creatrilogy - Peter Reynolds

Released October 2012

Peter Reynolds
Candlewick Press

Book Review by Bob Walch

This three book set includes The Dot, Ish, and Sky Color.  These three titles celebrate the creative spirit and, even more importantly. underscore the idea that being creative doesn’t require a special talent as much as the desire to just create something.

The Dot invites the child to just begin with making a mark. The teacher of the child featured in the book counsels him to “Just make a mark and see where it takes you.”  Good start!  From a single dot to a canvass of multicolored dots to a huge picture of a rather surrealistic dot, the child discovers he is, indeed, very creative.

Ish introduces the reader to another little fellow who loves to draw but his pictures don’t always resemble the object he is drawing. They never “look right”,  so the boy decides perhaps he’ll stop making pictures. Then his little sister tells him she likes his art.  Even though it may not look exactly like something. like, say, a vase. it looks “vase-ish” and that’s just fine. Energized by his sister’s support, the young artist grabs his materials and begins to produce a series of wonderfully “ish” drawings. There is one that is boat-ish, another that is sun-ish and a splendid  tree-ish masterpiece.

Finally, in Sky Color a little girl explores color when she tries to create a mural featuring the sky. She discovers a brilliant sunset is all but impossible to capture because the colors are difficult to reproduce. Then she makes an important discover – the sky is a rich palette of all colors.

Although they have been released separately, having these three books together in this “creativity” set is an excellent way of encouraging a child to try expressing himself or herself with form and color. Don’t worry about the finished product; just let the creative juices flow and see what happens. You may be delightfully surprised!

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Monday, December 17, 2012

When Thunder Comes: Poems for Civil Rights Leaders - J. Patrick Lewis

Released January 2013

J. Patrick Lewis
Chronicle Books

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

When Thunder Comes: Poems for Civil Rights Leaders is a collection of poetry for children. The poems capture many figures from the Civil Rights movement, and are told with vocabulary that will challenge, but not overwhelm, younger readers.

There are poems of people I've never heard of. Josh Gibson, a talented ball player, earns his place in the poem The Slugger.

"Our national pastime by the name
Of baseball was once mired in shame.
A prejudice-sized fear
Whitewashed the truth when history wrote
An unforgivable footnote--
The asterisk career."

There are poems for Ghandi, Harvey Milk, Nelson Mandela, Coretta Scott King, another baseball great, Jackie Robinson, and others. It's a great book for children who are learning about Civil Rights, and a fun way to introduce children to poetry.
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Thursday, December 6, 2012

Rocket Writes a Story - Tad Hills

Released July 2012

Tad Hills
Schwartz & Wade/Random House

The sequel to “How Rocket Learned to Read”, this picture book follows the loveable, big, white puppy as he writes his first story.  Rocket’s friend and teacher, little yellow bird, encourages the puppy to begin collecting words and writing them down on pieces of paper.

Once he has amassed a sizeable collection of words, Rocket decides it is time to put them together in a story. That’s the hard part! “I don’t know what to write,” he tells his friend the bird. “You want to write about something you’ve seen,” replies the bird. “Or you could write about something that inspires you!”

Now the dog is off seeking inspiration for his story. Where he finds an idea to write about and how Rocket puts his story together is covered in the rest of this picture book.

Not only is this a cute story but it is also one that could provide an “into activity” that would take a child through the steps of writing his or her own simple narrative.  A creative parent or teacher could use Rocket’s experience to create a valuable and fun learning activity. As you’ll discover, a story doesn’t have to use a lot of words or be very long!

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