Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle

Chronicle Books is one of those publishers that I count on to produce fun, creative books.  Sometimes those books are oversized.  Sometimes they have flaps, or pieces to open up or unfold.  I call these books "surprises on the inside".   The latest of these books:

Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle

From the publisher: In this innovative wordless picture book with interactive flaps, Flora and her graceful flamingo friend explore the trials and joys of friendship through an elaborate synchronized dance. With a twist, a turn, and even a flop, these unlikely friends learn at last how to dance together in perfect harmony. Full of humor and heart, this stunning performance (and splashy ending!) will have readers clapping for more! 

Molly Idle began her career as an artist working for DreamWorks Feature Animation, and from there she leapt into the world of children’s books. She lives in Tempe, Arizona.

Here's the Official Book Trailer - once you finish watching, go look for this at your local independent bookstore.


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

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday - A Strange Place to Call Home

Author:  Marilyn Singer
Illustrator:  Ed Young
Publisher: Chronicle Books (August 22, 2012)
Source: Copy for Review
Audience:  Grades 1st to 5th
Poetry * Animal Habitats * Nonfiction

Description from GoodReads:
Under the desert's cracked and barren skin, spadefoot toads are waiting for rain. In the endless black of the deepest caves, blind fish find their way. Even in the frozen hearts of glaciers, ice worms by the billion flourish. In this fascinating look at fourteen animals who defy the odds by thriving in Earth's most dangerous places, renowned poet Marilyn Singer and celebrated artist Ed Young show that of all the miracles of life, it is life's persistence that astounds the most.

My thoughts on this book:
Take one talented poet, such as Marilyn Singer, and pair her with an awesome illustrator like Ed Young and the results are bound to be pretty spectacular.  Each two page spread in this book features a poem about 1 of 14 animals that make their home in unusual or challenging environments.  At the conclusion of this book, the end notes contain additional facts about each of the animals and their habitats, and provide a jumping off place for further discussion.

In addition to Marilyn Singer's fabulous poetry, Ed Young's torn and cut paper artwork gives the book a feeling of texture or of coming to life.  I have a feeling that if I had a chance to listen to Young speak about his process for creating the illustrations for this book that I would appreciate it at a whole new level.    

One of the things I have come to appreciate about many nonfiction picture books is the incredible end notes to extend the readers knowledge of the subject at hand.  And though, I sometimes wonder if children read the end notes, I do know that as a teacher, I have always appreciated them. 

I love that there are so many wonderful poetry books that tie in beautifully to classroom curriculum and also have an incredible way of exposing children to nonfiction in a very accessible manner.  After reading A Strange Place to Call Home, I began thinking about how to tie this into various units at different grade levels.  This is one book that will be easy to recommend to teachers and would make an nice addition to a classroom or school library.

Look for this book at your local school or public library, or consider purchasing it at your local independent bookstore.  

Check out this widget from Chronicle that allows you to get a glimpse of the inside of this book:

A Strange Place to Call Home

Don't forget...

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

Ivy & Bean Day Blog-a-Bration Week 3

And the count down to the 1st Annual International Ivy & Bean Day continues.  This week Chronicle Books is giving away a copy of Ivy & Bean Book 3: Break the Fossil Record to one lucky winner and a set of mini-note cards to 3 other winners. Click here to check out the Ivy & Bean official page.

World Record books have a way of drawing kids in.  Bean and her fellow second graders can't help but be thoroughly fascinated by all the different ways that people have ended up in the Book of World Records that Bean's teacher lends to her.  After several of Ivy & Bean's classmates state that they want to break some of the world records, Ivy begin concocting her own plan to break a world record.  Of course, in true Ivy & Bean fashion, it is filled with a few hilarious failed attempts including a broken dish when trying to break a record for fastest dishwashing to being banned to the outdoors after screaming so loud in an attempt to break one of Bean's sister's glass figurines.  Inspired by a book Ivy is reading about a women paleontologist, the two girls set out to discover dinosaur bones in Bean's back yard.  In true Ivy & Bean spirit, the girls do find bones but breaking a world record may come in a completely different manner in the end.

So does anyone have an interesting story about a student(s) who attempted to break a world record after reading World Record book? Love to hear your own story in the comments section.

Other Bloggers celebrating Ivy & Bean Blog-a-Bration:

                     Media Darlings                                  
                     There's A Book                                  
                    In the Pages                                      
                      The O.W.L.                                         
                  Coquette Maman                            
                   Ruth Ayres Writes                           
                 One Page to the Next                    
                 Van Meter Library Voice               
               The Family That Reads Together
                Roundtable Reviews for Kids      
                                                               The Children's Book Review        

This week's giveaway will run from August 30th to September 1st.  Don't forget to enter the giveaway by filling in the form at the bottom of the page.

The Winners of this week's giveaways will be entered into the Grand Prize Giveaway.  Thanks Chronicle Books for this great prize pack:

A complete set of Ivy and Bean hardcover books signed by Annie Barrows 

1 set of Ivy and Bean Paper Dolls 

1 Ivy and Bean Button Factory 

1 Ivy and Bean READ Poster signed by Annie Barrows 

Set of Ivy and Bean Silly Bandz · Set of Ivy and Bean stickers 

AND – a super-secret really cool prize we’re working on (stay tuned!)

Nonfiction Picture Book Wedesday - A Rock is Lively

Author: Dianna Hutts Aston
Illustrator: Sylvia Long
Publisher: Chronicle Books (August 29, 2012)
Source: Copy for Review
Independent Reading Level: Grades 3 to 5
Read Aloud Level: Grades 1 to 3
Nonfiction * Science * Rocks/Minerals

Description from GoodReads:
From the award-winning creators of An Egg Is Quiet, A Seed Is Sleepy, and A Butterfly Is Patient comes a gorgeous and informative introduction to the fascinating world of rocks. From dazzling blue lapis lazuli to volcanic snowflake obsidian, an incredible variety of rocks are showcased in all their splendor. Poetic in voice and elegant in design, this book introduces an array of facts, making it equally perfect for classroom sharing and family reading.

My thoughts on this book:
As soon as I saw the cover for A Rock is Lively, I knew I had to read this book.  Aside for the fact that it is just as beautifully illustrated and formatted as the other books in this series, I knew the text would be engaging and informative.  Sure enough, it lived up to my expectations.

Right from the first page, the illustrations nearly pop off the page, and Aston has drawn readers in with her comparison of rock composition to the batter or ingredients for cookies.

One by one, Aston takes readers through various aspects and features of rocks from the age of rocks to their size.

The above picture captures how sand is composed of tiny grains of rocks.

Aston also explores how rocks can be useful, or creative, or energetic.  The book if filled with special facts and information that are made easily accessible for young readers.

A Rock is Lively is a beautiful addition to the series created by Aston and Long.  Each of their books should have a place in a classroom or school library.

Don't forget to look for A Rock is Lively at your school or public library or pick up a copy at your local independent bookstore.

Thanks to Chronicle Books, I have a copy of A Rock is Lively for giveaway.  The giveaway will from from August 29th to September 4th.

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