Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: April 28: #STEM, #ReadingLevels, and Like-Hearted People

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Because I was on vacation last week, there are quite a few links. Topics shared here include #BookLists, #DiverseBooks, #Kidlitopshere, #PreK, #ReadAloud, #STEM, Anna Dewdney Award, children's books for adults, gender identity, growing bookworms, math, parenting, publishing, reading, reading levels, Rick Riordan, screentime, and teaching.  I'm also working on another post with more detail from several joy of learning / play-related articles. 

Book Lists + Awards

EdwardGetsMessyCongratulations to + for winning award |

8 Fascinating , a from via

Darling Books about Fairies, & Other Wee Things, a new  

IzzyBarrPlayful Early Chapter Books About Sports, a https://t.co/WTn10chPgt

10 New Books Highlighting the and Strength of Girls & Women by

Diversity + Gender

Thinking About (Gender) Identity Labeling | links to a couple of interesting recent articles https://t.co/ZGoE07I9Tn 

Events + Programs

New Kid-Lit Landmarks To Be Named During |

I love things like this: Barbershops Give Kids Free Cuts if They  

Growing Bookworms

MalalaRethinking : Some Practical Advice from the Experts | Laura Lambert

Important: How to Be A Role Model – Without Actually Reading In Front of Your Class https://t.co/6l1w6oIpGG 

Kidlitosphere

This post by about finding "Like-Hearted" people via Twitter made me think of my pals  

On Reading, Writing, Blogging, and Publishing

MagnusChaseRick Riordan Imprint Acquires First Three Titles

What makes a book one grown-ups will like? asks | Great discussion in comments

Revisiting Childhood Book Friends + what it feels like when someone criticizes them  

Parenting, Play + Screentime

One Simple Trick to End Tech "turn it off time" Tantrums Forever, what works for  

Give a kid a computer...what does it do to her social life? summarized some recent research

What Is Open Ended , and Why Is It So Important? Five Reasons Play Is Critical for Kids.

Schools and Libraries

What do we really know about pre-k? shares + discusses conclusions from a new research report  

STEM

How Do I Get My Kids to Love ? Simple Steps Parents Can Take at Home from  

12 Inspirational Stories About Women Who Code: Inspiration for Girls via

© 2017 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook


Charlie & Mouse: Laurel Snyder and Emily Hughes

Book: Charlie & Mouse
Author: Laurel Snyder
Illustrator: Emily Hughes
Pages: 48
Age Range: 4-8

CharlieAndMouseCharlie & Mouse kicks off a new early reader series by Laurel Snyder and Emily Hughes. It's the story of a day in the life of two small brothers, told in four chapters. In the first, Charlie waves up the lump who shares his bed, otherwise known as Mouse, and the boys proceed to wake their parents, too. In the second chapter, the two brothers eagerly tell their parents that this is the day of the neighborhood party. The family trundles off to the park, gathering an array of children along the way. When they arrive, they find no one else there, but by that point "It was the best party ever!". In the third chapter, the boys decide to sell rocks as a way to make money. Things don't work out quite as expected, but there is enough money for ice cream. The last chapter, coming full circle, has Charlie and Mouse going to sleep. But not without a bit of mischief, and a plan for more in the morning. 

The text in Charlie & Mouse is fairly brief, with short paragraphs and straightforward text. I noticed that the author refrains from using contractions, despite the extensive dialog. Here's a snippet:

"HURRAH! Today is the party!"
shouted Charlie.

"Today is the neighborhood party!"
shouted Mouse.

"Everyone will be there!" shouted Charlie.

They danced around the kitchen.

There's an innocent impishness to the boys that feels real (and the author notes in her biography that she is the mother of two sons). There's also an old-fashioned feel to the story. There are kids just playing outside by themselves, able to follow Charlie and Mouse to the park without a word to anyone. Charlie and Mouse go door to door with their wagon, offering to sell rocks the neighbors. There are also hints that the family, while clearly stable, may not be exactly well off (the boys sharing a bed, and needing to sell rocks in order to afford ice cream). 

While the text gives no particular information as to the book's location (beyond being clearly suburban), illustrator Emily Hughes (who is from Hawaii) drops some hints of Hawaii, particularly a sign offering "Shave Ice" outside the ice cream store. These aren't strong enough to feel foreign for mainland kids, but they add some extra visual interest. 

As for the Charlie and Mouse, they are adorable, wide-eyed, mess-haired, and freckled. They are full of joy, as is the book overall. Charlie and Mouse is an early reader / very early chapter book that is both kid- and parent-friendly. I look forward to future books in the series, and certainly recommend that libraries give this one a look. 

Publisher: Chronicle Books (@ChronicleKids)
Publication Date: April 11, 2017
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 2017 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).


Literacy Milestone: Screening Books for Mom's Blog

LiteracyMilestoneAWhile this is not a typical milestone on the path to literacy, I've noticed a new behavior on my daughter's part that I thought my readers might appreciate. When new picture books for potential review come to the house, I normally place them on the kitchen table so that I can read them with my daughter. She's become gradually aware that I write about some of the books, but not all of the books, and she has started giving specific feedback.

Yesterday I was a bit busy, so she sat herself down, read through a stack of five books, and sorted them according to whether or not she though I should blog about them. She calls the ones that make the cut "write books", meaning that I should write about them. Of the five books in yesterday's stack she pronounced three "write books" and one "meh, you don't need to write about this one." The fifth book she was uncertain about, and said that I would have to read it myself to decide. It was like she had taken on the responsibility of doing the first pass screening as her job (for which she is amply paid in books). 

VampirinaBeachI should clarify that I will read all of the books and will decide myself which ones call for a review. She's a bit harsh these days on books for younger kids, for example. But I do find her input helpful. When she loves a book, chances are good that I will appreciate it, too. We've been reading together for seven years, after all. She also checks back sometimes to make sure I've written about the books that she particularly likes. As I picked up Vampirina at the Beach (which we had read previously) from the floor of her room this morning she said: "You did write about Vampirina, didn't you, Mommy?" [Yes, I did.]

What say you, blogging parents? Do you ever use the opinions of your kids on your blog? Am I ruining my child by making her a critic at such a young age? I don't really think so. I think it's useful to learn that there are books we like more than others, books we think are better-written, or better illustrated, or that other people would like to know about. So I guess we can call this one a milestone on the path the literacy for children of book reviewers. 

© 2017 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook


Rain: Sam Usher

Book: Rain
Author: Sam Usher
Pages: 40
Age Range: 3-7

RainUsherRain by Sam Usher is one of those picture books that one appreciates a little bit more in each reading. It's a lovely little story of a boy and his grandfather on a rainy day. The boy wakes up and desperately wants to go outside to play in the rain. But Granddad asks him to wait for the rain to stop. The boy spends the interminable waiting time reading, looking out the window, and asking Granddad again and again. Granddad, however, is distracted by his apparent attempts to respond to a love letter (hand-written, in this timeless story). And then, at last, the rain stops, just in time for Granddad to mail his letter. Just in time for an adventure involving "acrobats and carnivals and musical boatmen." 

Rain's mix of reality and fantasy may be a bit confusing to the youngest readers, but observant older readers will spot the elements of the fantasy adventure inside the boy's home, as toys and models and book illustrations. Only observant readers (and perhaps only adult readers) will pick up on the reason for Granddad's distraction. But all readers will simply love the cozy scene at the end of the books, as the two damp companions sit in the kitchen "with warm socks and hot chocolate." 

Usher's text is relatively minimal. This is a tale told more in pictures than in words. Usher's ink and watercolor illustrations perfectly capture the wavy colors of the rain, the kindness of Granddad, and the eagerness of the red-headed narrator. The reflections of various people and objects in the rain puddles, upside-down and blurred, will make any young reader long for the next rainy day. 

It's nice to see a picture book reflecting an unconventional family structure in which a small boy apparently lives alone with his grandfather. The bond between the two stands out. As does the rain. The rain practically leaps from the pages. In fact, the jacketless cover of Rain features raised raindrops, a tactile experience invites the reader in. Rain celebrates family, adventure, and a cozy home. It is simply lovely, and belongs in homes and libraries everywhere. Especially here in California, where we've learned to really appreciate the rain. Highly recommended, and one of my recent favorites. 

Publisher:  Templar (@Candlewick) 
Publication Date: March 28, 2017
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 2017 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).


Vampirina at the Beach: Anne Marie Pace and LeUyen Pham

Book: Vampirina at the Beach
Author: Anne Marie Pace
Pages: LeUyen Pham
Age Range: 4-8

VampirinaBeachVampirina at the Beach is the third book in the Vampirina series, written by Anne Marie Pace and illustrated by LeUyen Pham. Vampirina is a joyful young vampire with fangs and pale skin. In this entertaining picture book, Vampirina and her parents, along with a host of ghoulish friends, go to spend a full moon-lit evening at the beach. Pace's text doesn't directly address the fact that the various people in the story are non-human. She just shares things that are fun about visiting the beach, together with practical safety tips, leaving Pham to provide the visual, and unconventional, details.

For instance, we have this text over a couple of page spreads:

"When the waves are breaking, just right,
give surfing a whirl.

Practice your best ballet posture:
catch a wave,
demi-plie,
and ride,
ride,
RIDE!"

This spread is accompanied by vignettes that show Vampirina dragging a new, apparently human, friend out onto a gravestone-like surfboard. As the kids are trailed by a green octopus, the moon comes out from behind the clouds, and the friend is revealed to be not-so-human after all. Other spreads show sunken ships, pirate ghosts, and treasure maps, as well as supernatural creatures of all sorts doing relatively ordinary things, like playing beach volleyball and building sand castles. Turns out that being able to turn into a bat is useful in adding decorations to the tippy top of a castle. A fold-out spread in the middle of the book ramps up the action with a dance party. 

Vampirina at the Beach is full of entertaining monster details that will reward multiple inspections. These are set against a comforting backdrop of family fun and friendship. The closing image, of Vampirina and her friend sitting back-to-back eating roasted marshmallows beneath a full moon will make any kid smile. Pham manages to make the various monsters a mix of grotesque and cute, with Vampirina herself falling on the cute side, of course. 

Because so much of the fun of Vampirina at the Beach is visual, mainly in the form of multiple small illustrations per page, I think this is a better book for reading alone, or with a parent, rather than for a larger storytime. I think that first and second graders might be more receptive to the humor than preschoolers will, too, which also supports the read-alone, pore over it time and time again, hypothesis. Fans of the earlier two books will certainly want to give Vampirina at the Beach a look. It stands alone just fine, however (I have not read the other two books), and is a fun choice for celebrating the start of summer and beach season. Recommended! 

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion 
Publication Date: April 4, 2017
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 2017 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).