Sunday, January 12, 2014

December Round-Up

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Fraidyzoo by Thyra Heder
Harry N. Abrams, 2013
Unlike the rest of her family, Little T is not excited to go to the zoo. She can’t remember why, so her family begins an A-to-Z guessing game of make-believe to figure it out. After thinking about all the animals in the zoo, from alligator to zebra, camel to xantis, Little T decides she’s not afraid of the zoo at all. The energetic and understanding family in this book demonstrate the power of play and imagination as they create zoo animals from household items. With a funny twist of an ending, this book is great for kindergarten and lower elementary aged kids who know their alphabet.

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Rutherford B. Who Was He?: Poems about Our Presidents by Marilyn Singer, Illustrated by John Hendrix
Disney-Hyperion, 2013
This collection of sometimes funny, sometimes rhyming, always thought provoking poetry covers all the U.S. presidents from Washington to Obama. Arranged in chronological order, Singers poems celebrates the victories, laments the failures, mourns the lost, and puzzles over the mysteries of the many men who have lead our country. Some presidents get a poem all to themselves, while other poems read like dialogue between two or more commanders in chief. Hendrix’s detailed and humorous illustrations feature recognizable caricatures of the presidents. In addition, many quotes are incorporated into the illustrations as hand-drawn text. Back matter includes a brief explanation of presidential duties, as well as biographies about each president. Check out the end papers at the back of the book for a visual presidential timeline. The catchy book trailer is a fun way to get a sample of the flavor of the book. This is a great book to support a unit on American history.

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Up! Tall! And High! by Ethan Long
Putnam Juvenile, 2012
In this fun, flap-filled picture book the concepts of up, tall, and high are explored in three episodic stories. Each concept is humorously acted out by a cast of colorful birds who speak in speech bubbles. The cartoon-like illustrations use bright colors and thick black outlines to convey the concepts, as well as the reactions of the birds. This is a fun book to read to preschoolers or a great choice for independent early reading.

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The Watermelon Seed by Greg Pizzoli 
Disney-Hyperion, 2013
Isn’t watermelon tasty? The crocodile (or alligator?) in this book sure thinks so. Watermelon is great for breakfast, lunch, and dinner! Chomp! Slurp! Chomp! Until a watermelon seed is swallowed! Gulp! What if a watermelon starts growing inside the crocodile’s body and vines twist out of the crocodile’s ears? This might put the crocodile off watermelon forever (but probably not).  The illustrations, a combination of hand printing and Photoshop techniques, use a three color watermelon palatte of green, red, and black to futher highlight the main character’s love of this amazing food. The text is one long, dramatic, crocodile monologue that makes for an animated read aloud. I like to read this book to elementary school kids. It's also notable that the crocodile is nameless and gender neutral.