Book Review - Open This Little Book

Author: Jesse Klausmeier
Illustrator: Suzy Lee
Publisher: Chronicle Books (January 1, 2013)
Audience: Ages 4 to 7 years
Source: Copy for Review

Description from GoodReads:
What will you find when you open this little book? A fun story? Sweet characters? Enticing pictures? Yes! But much more. Open this book and you will find...another book...and another...and another. Debut author Jesse Klausmeier and master book creator Suzy Lee have combined their creative visions to craft a seemingly simple book about colors for the very youngest readers, an imaginative exploration of the art of book making for more sophisticated aficionados, and a charming story of friendship and the power of books for all.

My thoughts on this book:
Take a debut author with a creative book concept, mix in a skilled illustrator, and finish off with a publisher who gets  books that are not always mainstream (in size or concept) and you have a winner.  Delving into Klausmeier's debut picture book, Open This Little Book, was similar to opening a specially wrapped present that is just as special on the inside and is a win all the way to the end.

When I started to read, Open This Little Book, I expected a much more traditional story.  Instead I discovered the need to interact with the story by opening each book within a book.  Concepts such as colors, names of animals, and size are brought to life.  There is also a sense of coming full circle - first going from larger to smaller and then back and beyond.  Repetitive language assists younger readers to have success with reading the book, and also experience the comfort of a predictable pattern. 

If you haven't seen Open This Little Book at a local bookstore or library, please make sure that they order it.  You won't want to miss Klausmeier's debut picture book.        

More about Jesse Klausmeier: website | facebook | twitter | pinterest

More about Suzy Lee: website

Ralph Tells A Story Blog Tour: Guest Post with Abby Hanlon

Today, Kid Lit Frenzy is participating in a blog tour for Ralph Tells a Story by debut author/illustrator Abby Hanlon.  I am so excited that Abby is sharing ideas for writing with young children.  

As a public school teacher in New York City, I loved teaching writing to my first graders. Like thousands of elementary schools across the country, we used the Writer’s Workshop curriculum developed by Lucy Calkins of Teachers College at Columbia University. With the Writer’s Workshop model, writing time in an elementary school classroom isn’t much different than a college or adult creative writing class. Kids are encouraged to come up with their own ideas, to find their own story, to notice and remember the little details in their life. Nobody tells you what to write anymore!

Illustration copyright © 2012 by Abby Hanlon

For little kids who are just learning to form letters, who are making critical connections between letters and sounds and who are figuring out which direction the letters go on the page, writing time can be scary! But watching my students rise to this enormous challenge always amazed me. In Ralph Tells A Story, the book follows the structure of a Writer’s Workshop; the story starts off with some inspiration from the teacher, then the children go off to work on their own to write true stories about their lives. They come together at the end to share. In the book, I wanted to use this structure because it is familiar to kids. I hope that the book helps children to reflect upon their own experiences and fuels new story ideas.

Writing Tip 
Kids get really excited about very little things. Think about how many times a day your kid says, “Guess what?” “I found a bottle cap on the street!” “I heard about a lollipop with bubble gum inside of it!” “I beat Daddy in Candyland!” These are all great topics for Writer’s Workshop. No story is too small! In fact, small is perfect.

Thank you Abby for stopping by Kid Lit Frenzy and sharing writing tips and ideas about writing with young children.

Thanks to Blue Slip Media for hosting and organizing the blog tour, and to Amazon's Children's Publishing for hosting the giveaway.

Mon, Oct 1 - Momma Drama 
Tues, Oct 2 - KidLitFrenzy
Wed, Oct 3 - Susan Heim on Parenting
Thurs, Oct 4 - There's a Book
Fri, Oct 5 - Lille Punkin' Reviews
Mon, Oct 8 - A Mom's Take
Tues, Oct 9 - Just a Little Creativity
Wed, Oct 10 - The Children's Book Review
Thurs, Oct 11 - Adventures in Mommydom 
Fri, Oct 12 - Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

For more information about Abby Hanlon:  website
Abby Hanlon has a master’s degree in early childhood education from the City College of New York and bachelor’s from Barnard College, Columbia University. Abby has taught creative writing and first grade in the New York City public school system. Inspired by her students’ storytelling and drawings, Abby began to write her own stories for children. Determined to illustrate her stories, Abby taught herself to draw after not having drawn since childhood. Ralph Tells a Story is her first book. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband and their two children.

Please complete the form below to enter to win a copy of Ralph Tells a Story

Giveaway ends on Monday, October 8, 2012 at 11:59 p.m. Pacific.

Book Review & Blog Tour - Woodrow The White House Mouse

Author: Peter Barnes
Illustrator: Cheryl Barnes
Publisher: Little Patriots Press (republished September 10, 2012)
Source: Copy for Review
Audience: Ages 5 to 7
Fiction * Election/Government * Stories in Rhyme

Description from GoodReads:
Woodrow G. Washingtail is back and ready to get to work as Commander-in-Cheese of the United Mice of America! A follow-up to Woodrow for President, Woodrow, the White House Mouse teaches children about the presidency, as well as the art, architecture and history of the White House. Written and illustrated by the bestselling and award-winning duo, Peter and Cheryl Barnes, Woodrow, the White House Mouse delights and amuses children as they learn about everything from inauguration day and the president’s duties to the Easter egg roll and the East Wing. Perfect for kids 5-8 years old, children will be educated and entertained as President Washingtail and his family work and play in the greatest mouse house of all

My thoughts on the book:
Husband and wife team, Peter and Cheryl Barnes have created a story that seeks to provide younger children with an understanding of the presidential election and life in the White House in their book Woodrow The White House Mouse.  Originally published in 1998 by VSP Books, Woodrow the White House Mouse has been republished through Little Patriots Press in time for the 2012 Presidential Election.

In this story, Woodrow G. Washingtail has been elected president of the mice of this nation.  He and his family co-exist in the White House.  The story follows Woodrow from the inauguration to daily activities to special events.  Additionally, there is some information about signing a bill into law and also the various departments of the government.  Children are also given an inside peek into the rooms of the White House through the mouse family and their activities.  

At the end of the book, there are several pages of resources for parents and teachers about the Presidency, the White House, and fun facts.  Young children will enjoy the look at the life of a President from the eyes of a mouse.

Look for Woodrow The White House Mouse at your local library.

For more information about Peter and Cheryl Barnes: website

Thank you to TLC for organizing the blog tour.  Here is a link to all of the stops: Woodrow The White House Mouse Blog Tour

Non-fiction Picture Book Wednesday - Bird Talk

Author/Illustrator: Lita Judge
Publisher: Flash Point/Macmillan (March 13, 2012)
Source: Personal Copy
Read Aloud: Grades 1st to 4th
Independent Reading: Grades 2nd to 5th
Nonfiction * Communication * Birds

Description from GoodReads:
A gorgeously illustrated tribute to birds of all kinds and the fantastic, funny, fascinating things that they do.

Birds have lots of ways of communicating: They sing and talk, dance and drum, cuddle and fight. But what does all of the bird talk mean?
Filled with gorgeous illustrations, this fascinating picture book takes a look at the secret life of birds in a child-friendly format that is sure to appeal to readers of all ages - whether they're die-hard bird-watchers or just curious about the creatures in their own backyards.

My thoughts on this book:
Since I have been keeping an eye out for nonfiction picture books, I have been looking for this book for several months.  I was so excited when it finally showed up in my local bookstore this past week.  From the title and the cover, I was curious to discover what the book would entail.  Would it be funny? Easy to read? Dry and boring? I am happy to report that the illustrations are gorgeous watercolors.  You must check out the link below where Lita Judge has posted examples of the pages.

This is one of my favorites in the book (apologies for the bad photography).  Don't you just love that illustration of the Blue Bird hanging upside down and showing off? 

The pairing of various colored birds on a page or the featuring of one bird on a stark white background catches the eye and draws the reader in.  Isn't this picture of a Palm Cockatoo gorgeous? 

As for the text, I enjoyed how Judge set up each section before going into further explanation.  The book looks at various forms of communication that birds use.  For example, "Parents and chicks learn the sound of each others voices." is then followed by several examples of how this occurs with various birds.  

What I also enjoyed about Bird Talk is that it didn't fall into the heavily technical end of nonfiction.  It reads well, provides just the right amount of information about bird communication to help younger readers develop a basic understanding which will hopefully propel them into further reading on the topic.  I liked the pages at the end where the list of birds is provided.  However, I would have loved to see a suggestion for further reading for children included at the end.  

Judge's Bird Talk would make a beautiful addition to a school's or classroom's library.  Look for this book at your local school or public library, or consider purchasing it at your local independent bookstore.

Click here to read a blog post where Lita Judge discusses Bird Talk.  Check out the examples of the artwork, click here

For more information about Lita Judge: website | blog | YouTube | twitter  

Don't forget to link up your nonfiction picture book reviews below: 

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday - Timeless Thomas

Author/Illustrator: Gene Barretta
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (July 17, 2012)
Audience: Grades 2nd to 5th
Source: Personal Copy
Nonfiction * Biographical * Inventors

Description from GoodReads:
What do record players, batteries, and movie cameras have in common?
All these devices were created by the man known as The Wizard of Menlo Park: Thomas Edison.

Edison is most famous for inventing the incandescent lightbulb, but at his landmark laboratories in Menlo Park & West Orange, New Jersey, he also developed many other staples of modern technology.  Despite many failures, Edison persevered. And good for that, because it would be very difficult to go through a day without using one of his life-changing inventions. In this enlightening book, Gene Barretta enters the laboratories of one of America’s most important inventors.

My thoughts on this book:
I discovered Gene Barretta's books (Now & Ben: The Modern Inventions of Benjamin Franklin; Neo Leo: The Ageless Ideas of Leonardo da Vinci) a few months ago.  I loved his way of making information about famous inventors/thinkers very accessible and fun for young readers.  When I went in search of more information about Gene Barretta and his books, I discovered that a new book would be out soon.  I have been eagerly anticipating Timeless Thomas: How Thomas Edison Changed Our Lives and it didn't disappoint.

Barretta's latest book focuses on the life and inventions of Thomas Edison.  After a short introduction to Edison, Barretta begins by comparing "Present Day" activities such as recording sound or the photocopier and compares them to "Edison's Lab" and how some of Edison's inventions or ideas were forerunners to what we often take for granted.  There are over 15 examples of how Edison's inventions were instrumental in the development of the many common day items that are essential to us today.  Each of these items are presented in very readable text accompanied by bright, cartoon-like illustrations that add to the enjoyment of the story.

At the end of the book, Barretta provides the reader with short bios for 20 of Edison's Employees.  Additionally, there are some trivia facts and a bibliography that will hopefully encourage readers to learn more about Thomas Edison. Overall, this is an enjoyable look at Thomas Edison that will hopefully inspire children to not only try to succeed with taking risks but also model Edison's philosophy that failure is just as important to learning as getting it right.

I would encourage teachers and librarians to make a set of Barretta's books available in the classroom or school library.  I have a feeling that a lot of children will enjoy checking them out.  Look for Timeless Thomas at your local school or public library, and when purchasing books, consider supporting your local independent bookstore.

For more information on Gene Barretta: website | blog | facebook | twitter

  Don't forget to link up your nonfiction picture book reviews here: