Thursday, December 13, 2018

2018 Picture Book Recommendations!

Child Reading by Jessie Wilcox Smith

This is a bit of a email/newsletter intro post. Today's reviews offer you some of the interesting picture books I've seen recently. The books in the short reviews posted today are all suitable for children age 3-7.

Many of these books can be found in the library or you can buy them in eBook format for more affordable options. But just remember, the kinesthetic sense of holding a book, turning real pages, and tracing a finger along lines of text are a vital part of a child learning to read.

(If you are reading directly online, just click on the Marzie's Reads logo at the top of your page and scroll down to read the various picture books.)

Review: H Is for Haiku: A Treasury of Haiku from A to Z

H Is for Haiku: A Treasury of Haiku from A to Z H Is for Haiku: A Treasury of Haiku from A to Z by Sydell Rosenberg
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

For new readers, learning to feel at ease with pronouncing words and recognizing syllables is a challenge. Poetry, and in particular Haiku poetry, with its emphasis on a pattern of syllables (five on the first line, seven on the second and five on the third line) is an accessible way to challenge and delight children with simplicity. With clever illustrations, this compendium of alphabetical haikus written by longtime NYC teacher Sydell Rosenberg, member of the Haiku Society of America ( and who passed away in the 1990's) offers children simple sentences with a vocabulary challenge above that in conventional books for the primary grades. (Words like "writhing," "plunging," "queuing," and "outstretched" for instance, are not what we usually see in picture books.) The illustrations help the juvenile reader by offering clues. (Although Z is pretty sneaky and not associated with a visual clue.)

This is a good book for classroom use and for parents to explore with their early-reader children. The illustrations, by Sawsan Chalabi, while simple, are effective and humorous.

I received a Digital Review Copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Review: I Am Loved

I Am Loved I Am Loved by Nikki Giovanni
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A beautiful new edition of the Giovanni's classic children's poetry from the 1970's, with illustrations by Ashley Bryant. As any early childhood educator can tell you poetry is a wonderful way to help early readers learn about the feelings that words can evoke. Rhyming and meter can aid a child in recognizing how to anticipate pronunciation, and help with reading fluency. While some critics may be frustrated with the lack of punctuation, Giovanni's simple language resonates with the reader.

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Review: Babu and Bina at the Ghost Party!

Babu and Bina at the Ghost Party! Babu and Bina at the Ghost Party! by P. Tomar
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

One of the things I loved most as a child was reading about other countries and cultures, including their mythology and folklore. Indian mythology and epics, including the Ramayana and Mahabharata offered exciting stories I was fortunate to have been exposed to at an early age. (I actually bought a small Ganesha bronze statue when I was about ten in an antique store! I bought a Parvati statue when I was eighteen!) It is good to know that there is continuing interest in the Indian mythos in children's books. Earlier this year, Disney/Hyperion released the first in a Middle Grade Indian mythology-based series, Aru Shah and the End of Time. This comes on the heels of other popular books such as Sanjay Patel's mythology-based books inspired by the Ramayana, including his charming Ganesha's Sweet Tooth. P. Tomar and illustrator Giulia Iacopini offer us a new series with an Indian cultural theme for young readers.

The first book in the Babu and Bina series, Babu and Bina at the Ghost Party tells a simple story of sibling elephants Babu and Bina Trunk visiting an East Indian fort with their family. When their naughty dog Pinto gets away from them, their chase after him leads them through mysterious places and finally to the ghosts of the Maharaja and Maharani who lived there long ago, along with soldiers and others who served them in the fortress. Babu and Bina keep an open mind about these ghosts and enjoy a light and sound show with them.

What really stands out in this indie-published picture book is the quality of the imagery. The illustrations are colorful and charming. For children and parents who love stories of other places in the world, this is a charming entry to a new series. The second book in the series, which publishes early next year, find Bina playacting as a Princess for a Day.

I received a Digital Review Copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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Review: The Bad Seed

The Bad Seed The Bad Seed by Jory John
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a cute picture book about a really bad seed (cuts in line, talks over people, never washes his hands, always late, never puts things back where he found them, terrible, terrible manners) who finally realizes he only wants to be a bit bad. The reasons why the seed went bad lie in the terrible abuse of sunflower seeds by those would market them as *gasp* FOOD. The Bad Seed is lucky to have escaped a terrible fate. As the seed starts to do better, those around him notice. He's still not a perfect seed, but it's always good to have room to improve.

A good metaphor for teaching children with bad habits that doing better doesn't have to mean being perfect.

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