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Posts from October 2013

Little Owl's Orange Scarf: Tatyana Feeney

Book: Little Owl's Orange Scarf
Author: Tatyana Feeney
Pages: 32
Age Range: 3-6

Little Owl's Orange Scarf is by Tatyana Feeney, author of Small Bunny's Blue Blanket, which we adore. But despite the similarity of title and minimalist illustration style, Little Owl's Orange Scarf has pretty much the opposite premise. Little Owl loves many things. But he does not love the long, orange scarf that his mother knits for him. He tries hard to lose the offending clothing item, but Mommy is too clever. Until, on a visit to the zoo, Little Owl finds the perfect solution to his problem. 

Little Owl's Orange Scarf is about a small child's struggle for control in a world of parental authority. It's about the need to have not just things (or clothes) but to have the right things (or clothes). It's about sticking to your guns, and working out compromise (though admittedly in a manner that not all parents may appreciate). 

Little Owl's Orange Scarf is for the youngest of readers, with minimal text and spare illustrations. The humor is understated, as when we read "Little Owl tried very hard to lose his new scarf", and we see a picture of the scarf sticking out of a trunk labelled "To Peru". Or when we learn that "The yarn shop was more exciting than Little Owl expected" because there is yarn there that is not orange. 

This is, naturally, the perfect companion book to Small Bunny's Blue Blanket. Where the first book celebrates a child's love of a treasured object, Little Owl's Orange Scarf looks at the child's reaction to a gift that isn't well-loved. For my own three-year-old, I think that the Blue Blanket story will be more immediately relatable. But we'll keep this one around to look at after all of the Christmas presents are unwrapped this year. Recommended for home use with preschoolers. 

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (@RandomHouseKids)  
Publication Date: June 11, 2013
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

FTC Required Disclosure:

This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 2013 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


Growing Bookworms Newsletter: October 30

JRBPlogo-smallToday I will be sending out the new issue of the Growing Bookworms email newsletter. (If you would like to subscribe, you can find a sign-up form here.) The Growing Bookworms newsletter contains content from my blog focused on children's and young adult books and raising readers. There are 1766 subscribers. I send out the newsletter once every two weeks. 

Newsletter Update: In this issue I have four book reviews (all picture books). I also have posts about improving literacy for babies by using a rear-facing stroller, a literacy milestone for Baby Bookworm, and how reading to kids build background knowledge. I also have two posts with literacy-themed links that I shared on Twitter recently. Finally, I have a post about my session at the upcoming Kidlitosphere Conference in Austin, TX. 

The only recent post not included in the newsletter this time around is one about WordGirl's Word of the Month for October (Supernatural), with a few spooky book suggestions. 

Reading Update: In the last two weeks I read one middle grade and two young adult fiction titles. I read:

  • Catherine Gilbert Murdock: Heaven is Paved with Oreos. HMH Books for Young Readers. Middle Grade / Middle School. Completed October 30, 2013. Review to come.
  • Christopher E. Long: Hero Worship. Flux. Young Adult Fiction. Completed October 17, 2013. Review to come, closer to the January publication date. 
  • D. J. MacHale: Sylo (The Sylo Chronicles, Book 1). Razorbill. Young Adult Fiction. Completed October 25, 2013. This was a fun page-turner, the start to a new series by the author of the Pendragon books. I couldn't resist the premise, in which a small island off the coast of Maine is invaded by an elite military unit, and cut off from the rest of the world (for murky reasons). But I think I'll wait and review after the next book comes out, as this was mainly a recreational read for me. 

I'm still listening to The House of Hades by Rick Riordan. I haven't decided what to read next. Baby Bookworm has been dabbling in listening to early chapter books. The other night we had a tiny literacy milestone when instead of asking for "just one more book", she begged for "just one more chapter." But we are still taking the chapter books in very small doses, and mostly reading picture books and early readers. We're currently reading Busybody Nora from Johanna Hurwitz's Riverside Kids series (most of which are sadly out of print). This early chapter book series was a recommendation from Anamaria Anderson, and is a great fit for us. 

You all may appreciate the fact that Baby Bookworm asked to be Pink-A-Girl for Halloween. Pink-A-Girl is Pinkalicious' superhero Halloween costume in Pinkalicious: Pink or Treat. It was a pretty easy costume for us. We purchased a pink cape and a tiara, and she wears these with pink clothing (we've had several dress-up occasions already). Very few people are familiar with Pink-A-Girl, but Baby Bookworm, at 3 1/2, is completely indifferent to this. It pleases her to be like Pinkalicious. And that pleases me.

Are any of your kids dressing up as book-related Halloween characters? Wishing you a fun-filled, treat-filled, scare-filled holiday. Thanks for reading the newsletter, and for growing bookworms. 

© 2013 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


The Invisible Boy: Trudy Ludwig & Patrice Barton

Book: The Invisible Boy
Author: Trudy Ludwig
Illustrator: Patrice Barton
Pages: 40
Age Range: 5-8

Trudy Ludwig's The Invisible Boy is about a quiet little boy named Brian. Brian is not overtly bullied, but he is made to feel invisible because he is ignored by his classmates. When he reaches out to a new classmate, however, things begin to change, and the invisible boy begins to be seen. I'm not normally a fan of overt issue books, but The Invisible Boy worked for me. Part of this was because I love Patrice Barton's gentle illustrations.

But also, I think, The Invisible Boy worked because I so empathized with (ached for) Brian. He's a real character, not a prop for an issue book. He spends his free time "doing what he loves to do best", drawing. He remains hopeful, even in the presence of the other children's indifference (when they don't pick him for a team, or talk right in front of him about a party he wasn't invited to). And when the other kids make fun of the new boy's Korean lunch, Brian "sits there wondering which is worse--being laughed at or feeling invisible." And he takes action. A small, believable, true-to-his-nature action. It's lovely.

Barton's digitally painted pencil sketches are simply perfect for this story. She shows Brian in gray tones, next to the brighter colors of the other kids. As the new boy responds to Brian's gesture, appreciating him for his art, Brian starts to bloom with a hint of color. And by the end of the book, he's "not so invisible after all." 

The other kids form a realistically diverse palette, with Brian's eventual two friends Korean and African American. The kids are all rosy-cheeked and in slightly soft focus, in the same style as the baby in Sweet Moon Baby: An Adoption Tale, which Barton also illustrated. Brian's drawings are also realistically rendered - they look like the work of an elementary school boy, with imaginative characters and stereotypical adventure trappings (dragons and pirates). 

The Invisible Boy is both heartbreaking and hearwarming. It takes on the situation of quiet kids who are overshadowed by their more attention-seeking peers, and personalizes this via Brian. And what I like best is that Brian takes the first step himself to find a solution, rather than being helped by any external forces. (Teachers may not appreciate the complete lack of help the teacher provides here, but I like to see kids solving the problem in children's books.) 

The Invisible Boy will resonate with kids who feel lost in the crowd. And isn't that most of them, sometimes. It might even make the chatty kids who are the ones doing the ignoring think twice about the kids on the fringes. Quite a powerful thing from a picture book. Recommended for school and library purchase. 

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (@RandomHouseKids
Publication Date: October 8, 2013
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

FTC Required Disclosure:

This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 2013 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


Reading Aloud to Kids Builds Background Knowledge

I recently read the 7th edition of Jim Trelease's The Read-Aloud Handbook (more details here). The section (in Chapter 1) on Background Knowledge stood out for me. Trelease says: 

"Background knowledge is one reason children who read the most bring the largest amount of information to the learning table and thus understand more of what the teacher of the textbook is teaching... For the impoverished child lacking the travel portfolio of affluence, the best way to accumulate background knowledge is by either reading or being read to." (Page 13-14)

There is no question that my daughter has acquired background knowledge from books. Recently we were in the parking lot at the grocery store, and a taxi cab passed by. My daughter said: "Look! A taxi cab! I've never seen one in real life before." (Forgetting various airport trips, I guess.) She had, however, seen a taxi cab in Night Light by Nicholas Blechman. And despite the one in the book having been somewhat stylized, the rendition was accurate enough for my Baby Bookworm to know one when she saw it. 

Do you have examples of ways that your child has used books to build background knowledge? Or is this so pervasive that you don't even notice? 

See also my related post about making connections between books and day-to-day life, from this year's Share a Story - Shape a Future literacy blog tour. 

© 2013 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. 


Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: October 25

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage.

Book Lists

A Tuesday Ten: Ghostly Encounters in #kidlit | Views From the Tesseract https://ow.ly/q4r0K

Book list: So You Want to Read Middle Grade: Catherine Gilbert Murdock @greenbeanblog https://ow.ly/q4quh #kidlit

15 Multicultural Books for Babies and Toddlers, recommended by @momandkiddo https://ow.ly/q1OsY #kidlit #diversity

At Stacked: October Debut #YAlit Novels https://ow.ly/q1N87 @catagator

New Books that should make young readers (6-12) laugh, recommended by @TrevorHCairney https://ow.ly/pYNXz #kidlit

Top Twelve Picture Book Read-Alouds for Halloween from @aliposner https://ow.ly/pYNPO #kidlit

Top Ten Middle Grade Books About Mice by @muellerholly @NerdyBookClub https://ow.ly/pYMKC #kidlit

Book Awards

The 2014 World Book Day titles have been announced, reports @bkshelvesofdoom | Code Name Verity is there https://ow.ly/q94GK

The UK's Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize Awarded to @rebstead for Liar & Spy, reports @tashrow https://ow.ly/q99Jj #kidlit

The 2013 Red House Children's Book Award shortlists... https://ow.ly/q2vHc via @bkshelvesofdoom #kidlit

Common Core

Common Core IRL: Spooky, creepy stories to grab you (ages 10 - 14) from @MaryAnnScheuer https://ow.ly/q6QET #kidlit

CommoncoreExcellent points: How mysteries are a great fit for the Common Core, by @kkittscher https://ow.ly/q4qKY

How Parents Can Support the Common Core Reading Standards | @adlit https://ow.ly/pYCev #literacy #parenting

Growing Bookworms

Books for Kids that get them excited about learning new vocabulary, suggested by @growingbbb https://ow.ly/q1Msg #kidlit

Looking for books for your new independent reader: Bring on a Series! says @ReadingWithBean https://ow.ly/q1M4V #literacy

How cool! A theme park totally dedicated to children’s literature: Bookworm Gardens https://ow.ly/q4Jg4 @bookriot via @PWKidsBookshelf

Interesting approach: Selling Reluctant Readers: 10 Marketing Tactics To Amp Up Fun - @ShapingYouth https://ow.ly/pZALE #literacy

A Thrilling Literary Mission: James Patterson on Getting Kids to Read https://on.wsj.com/GXQoAG via @scholastic

Kidlitosphere

KidlitCon2013#KidLitCon Austin: Don't Miss Out!, urges @MotherReader | "It's worth traveling for" https://ow.ly/q94cF

Talking about #MGLit and blogging at #KidLitCon! | @BooksYALove https://ow.ly/q6Qr7

The schedule for #KidLitCon has now been published, and the deadline to register is Nov. 1st. Don't miss it! https://ow.ly/q6IdF

New post on the #Cybils blog: Register Now for #KIDLITCON! https://bit.ly/1ah9FaX

#KidLitCon 7 - Registration Closing Soon! Go because "hanging out with blogging pals is the best" says @gregpincus https://ow.ly/q4r8J

Why Leila from @bkshelvesofdoom is gearing up for #KidLitCon 2013, and you should too. https://ow.ly/q1K54 #kidlit

Talking about Middle Grade blogging (in general and at #Kidlitcon), @charlotteslib @Book_Nut @BooksYALove https://ow.ly/q1NwR

Some of the attendees signed up for #KidLitCon in Austin are listed here: https://ow.ly/q1Kiv | The deadline for registration is 10/24.

RT @cybils: Happy Birthday, Sheila!: It's @SheilaRuth birthday today, so leave your well wishes in the comments. . https://bit.ly/177ZowX

On Reading and Writing

Interesting piece @pbs on how the Little House books promoted libertarian values https://ow.ly/q4IJv via @PWKidsBookshelf

"To shove aside an entire category of literature because it features teen protagonists is lazy + pathetic" GeekEmpire https://ow.ly/q1Ode

Interesting, if not upbeat: Report On The Panel On The Status Of Women In Children's Publishing from @gail_gauthier https://ow.ly/pYOjE

Discussion on where horror falls as a genre (vs. speculative fiction, fantasy, realistic) at Views From the Tesseract https://ow.ly/q9aDy

Food for thought from @haleshannon Hone your internal reader, not your internal literary critic https://ow.ly/q9bsn

20 Classic #Kidlit / #YAlit Literature Heroines, Ranked – @Flavorwire https://ow.ly/q9vc7 via @pwkidsbookshelf

Parenting

Really excellent article: Ethical Parenting Is More Than Possible—It’s Essential – @TabletMag https://ow.ly/pYOCj via @medinger

Fun post on the classic childhood activity of Rolling Down the Hill from @momandkiddo https://ow.ly/q9a1P

Programs and Research

PulseMessagesOct-24On Facebook: Experts agree that reading aloud is "the single most important thing a parent or caregiver can do to help a child prepare for reading and learning." So true! Read Aloud!

Read Every Day: A simple + effective prescription from a doctor + @reachoutandread director https://ow.ly/q9bR3 via @librareanne

Well, yeah. "Reading gives kids an edge, study says", reports @TheAge https://ow.ly/pYN0W via @tashrow #literacy

Field Trips to Art Museums Improve Critical Thinking, Promote Empathy + Increase Tolerance @EducationNext https://ow.ly/pYChc via @adlit

Redlabl-logoHave you seen the ilustrator-created art for the @scholastic Read Every Day Lead a Better Life campaign? Gorgeous. https://ow.ly/q9tpL

Schools and Libraries

Good for them, I say: Kid Lit Authors Ask White House to Ease Standardized Testing Mandates | @sljournal https://ow.ly/q9uu2

KozsolQuoteShared on Facebook, the quote to the left from The Read-Aloud Handbook

On connecting students with books, by teacher @kacwrites @KirbyLarson 's blog https://ow.ly/q99s7 #literacy

"There’s no reason to stop modeling lifelong reading when students enter high school" @thereadingzone @KirbyLarson https://ow.ly/pYO2r

A teacher's experience on Reaching the Reluctant Reader by Laura Farmer | @NerdyBookClub https://ow.ly/pYNJr

I think so! Should more YA fiction be read in schools? asks @GuardianBooks https://ow.ly/q9v2Y via @pwkidsbookshelf

© 2013 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.


Mr. Tiger Goes Wild: Peter Brown

Book: Mr. Tiger Goes Wild
Author: Peter Brown (@itspeterbrown)
Pages: 48
Age Range: 3-6

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild is vintage Peter Brown (see my review of The Curious Garden). It's about how one person, by being true to himself, can make a difference, but also about the way that we all need to be part of a community. Pretty heady stuff for a picture book about a tiger heading out into the wilderness. 

Here's how it begins:

"Everyone was perfectly fine
with the way things were.

Everyone but Mr. Tiger.

Mr. Tiger was bored with always being so proper."

We see Mr. Tiger bored with his proper life, and his proper, tea-drinking neighbors. Gradually, Mr. Tiger starts to get a little wild. And then a little more wild. And just as he's starting to feel a bit lonely, he learns that his individualism has actually rubbed off a little bit. And everyone is better off. 

Brown's spare text pairs well with his ink, watercolor, and gouache illustrations. His color palette starts out muted, with the small, orange tiger standing out as the sole splash of color against a regimented backdrop. Gradually the tiger gets bigger, and the other colors get greener. The pictures when the tiger is out in the wilderness are reminiscent of the lush later pictures in The Curious Garden, full of plants, fish, birds, and waterfalls.  

Brown dedicates this book "for tigers everywhere", and it really is a book that will encourage people to let loose a bit of their inner wildness. There's a great scene in which Mr. Tiger leaps across the rooftops of a series of row houses. The text says, "His friends did not know what to think." But while some of them are thinking "Peculiar" and "UNACCEPTABLE!", others are thinking "Hmm" and "Wow". You can see him expanding people's viewpoints, though he doesn't realize this until the end of the book. 

I doubt that my three year old will get the larger point at all. But I still think that she'll laugh at the notion of the conservative Mr. Tiger busting out and becoming wild. As for me, I love the expressive faces of the other animals, the deadpan text, and, I must admit, the happy ending. Highly recommended, and sure to do well. 

Publisher:  Little, Brown (@LBKids)
Publication Date: September 3, 2013
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

FTC Required Disclosure:

This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 2013 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


Literacy Milestone: First Early Chapter Book Completed

LiteracyMilestoneAI shared a while back the fact that my daughter and I were dabbling with chapter books, as an adjunct to a read-aloud diet consisting mainly of picture books. I'm pleased to report that this week we finished our very first early chapter book. I had read a few middle grade titles to her when she was a baby (The Secret Garden, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, The Penderwicks, the complete Winnie the Pooh), but it's not like my daughter was following the plots or anything at that point. We'd also read (and re-read) quite a few easy readers (mostly series titles featuring characters she is already familiar with). But this is the first longer book that she listened to, cover to cover.  

On the recommendation of Jim Trelease in The Read-Aloud Handbook, I ordered a copy of Two Times the Fun by Beverly Cleary. Two Times the Fun is a 96 page book, aimed at a reading audience of 6 to 9 years old (probably more on the earlier end of that). I found it perfect for my 3 1/2 year old listener. Two Times the Fun is about preschool-age twins, Jimmy and Janet and the ordinary events of early childhood. Jimmy digs a big hole, Jimmy and Janet go to the shoe store, that sort of thing.  

I think the key to this book was that my daughter could relate to the twins' experiences. This enabled her to listen, even though we would sometimes go a couple of page spreads without seeing a single illustration. In fact, she ended up not paying particularly close attention to the illustrations at all. She moved around her room instead. But she kept listening. 

Two Times the Fun consists of four independent chapters (basically short stories). We read the first two chapters in one sitting, and the next two chapters in two separate sittings, over about a four day total time period. She remembered details between readings, like who Mr. Lemon was (the highly affable mailman). And she loved it when I would point out similarities between the characters in the book and herself ("Do you know anyone who likes to pretend like Janet does?" "Me!"). 

I liked that Two Times the Fun wasn't message-y. It's classic Beverly Cleary, albeit for the youngest of readers, with regular kids doing regular things. There wasn't much vocabulary that I had to define for my daughter. A few times I started to explain what an expression meant, but found that "Mother" was explaining that to the twins on the next page, anyway. All in all, Two Times the Fun was a just-right fit for us. I only wish that there were more books about Jimmy and Janet. 

Incidentally, I've started a page, as well as a sidebar list, to keep track of chapter books that we finish. Right now the list numbers 1. But we're off to a great start! I'll keep you posted. 

© 2013 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. 


KidLitCon Session: Blogger Burnout: Suggestions for Getting Your Groove Back

KidlitCon2013I'm pleased to announce that I'll be presenting at this year's Kidlitosphere Conference (KidLitCon #7) in Austin, TX. Sarah Stevenson and I are hosting a session on Blogger Burnout: Suggestions for Getting Your Groove Back. 

Here's the overview that Sarah and I submitted: 

Anyone who has been blogging for a while has experienced occasional bouts of blogger burnout. Many of us put in an inordinate amount of time on our blogs, for which we are largely unpaid. And sometimes, we lose focus, or start to question what we're doing. In this presentation, we'll share our own recent experiences with blog burnout, and the suggestions that other bloggers made to help us to get our respective grooves back. We'll also seek other suggestions from the audience.

We've started making lists of:

  • Reasons that kidLit bloggers experience burnout (putting out content and not receiving any response, for example); and 
  • Things that bloggers have done that have helped to pull them out of a bout of burnout (refocusing on the reasons you started your blog in the first place, for instance). 

If you have any suggestions for us for either of these lists (or on this topic in general), please share (and we will of course attribute your input in our presentation). Or, if you're coming to KidLitCon in Austin, we hope that you'll share your thoughts during the presentation.

Still undecided about attending KidLitCon? The deadline for registration is this Thursday, October 24th [Updated: extended to November 1st]. Here are three recent posts on other blogs that may help encourage you to attend:

  • Charlotte from Charlotte's Library is organizing a panel with Melissa Fox (Book Nut) and Katy Manck (BooksYALove) on blogging middle grade books. They'll be looking at things like "who are the various audiences for middle grade blogs, and how we can keep our blogs growing, extending their reach and their depth?". See this post for details. 
  • Leila from Bookshelves of Doom admits in this post to having been nervous about attending KidLitCon for the first time last year. But now she says, "It was like... the internet allowed me to Find My People and to get to know them, but it was at KidLitCon that they really became MY FRIENDS. There's just something about meeting face-to-face that makes the relationships more REAL, somehow." I know exactly what she means, and I can't wait to finally meet Leila in person. Do read the whole post
  • Greg Pincus from GottaBook will, sadly, not be able to attend this year. He says: "You should go! Seriously - hanging out with blogging pals is the best."  

Still need more? Well, a partial list of attendees has been posted. Click through to see some of the great blogs that will be represented. Have you always wanted to meet Kelly Jensen of STACKED or Maureen Kearney of Confessions of a Bibliovore? Now is your chance! Click through to see more names and blogs. 

We're finalizing a couple of details with the agenda, and will have that published shortly. But honestly, the reason to attend is to hang out with people who love blogging and talking about children's and young adult books. To find your peeps, and make them your real-life friends. Don't wait! Register now for the 7th Annual Kidlitosphere Conference, KidLitCon 2013

© 2013 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. 


Bedtime Monsters: Josh Schneider

Book: Bedtime Monsters
Author: Josh Schneider
Pages: 32
Age Range: 4-8

Bedtime Monsters is a new picture book by Josh Schneider, who won a 2012 Theodor Seuss Geisel Award for Tales for Very Picky Eaters. Bedtime Monsters is a fun story about using your imagination to conquer nighttime fears.

By day, Arnold pretends to be a New York-destroying, animal-eating monster. But when bedtime comes around, he worries about "the monster that comes out at night and bits off toes." His pragmatic mother says: "I'm sure he's just as scared of you as you are of him." Arnold is then visited by a series of monsters, each of whom is afraid of the next, right up until his mother's supposition proves to be indirectly true.

Bedtime Monsters is written with short, declarative sentences that lend themselves to a suspenseful tone. Schneider uses carefully selected vocabulary words to make the sounds of the night come alive. Like this:

"Arnold and the terrible toe biter looked into the dark.
Arnold looked to the left.
The terrible toe biter looked to the right.
The bed made a squeaking noise.
The radiator made a glinking noise.
The closet door made a creaking noise."

There is plenty of dialog, which I think also helps to make it a fun read-aloud (parents can do monster voices). The monsters have creative names like "winged fargles." 

Schneider's watercolor, pen-and-ink, and colored pencil illustrations show Arnold's early pretendings via sketched outlines of the pretended elements surrounding the real elements (e.g. Arnold, with the outline of a monster around him). The monsters who visit Arnold, however, are shown as fully colored, three-dimensional creatures, supporting the conceit that the visits from the monsters are real. This works well, because it makes Bedtime Monsters into a straight-up story, and leaves any message about conquering one's fears in the background where it belongs. There's a humorous bit at the end where we see the last monster pretending to be Arnold. 

Striped PJ-clad Arnold shows a range of emotions, ranging from afraid to annoyed to proud, via both facial expression and posture. His nighttime room is shown with a twilight purple background, against which the monsters stand out clearly. 

I see Bedtime Monsters being popular with kids who are afraid of the dark, as well as with kids who like playing monster (are there any who don't?). As an adult reader, I like the subtlety of the message, and the way "he's more afraid of you than you are of him" plays out slowly over the course of the book. I also like the matter-of-fact authority of the mother (if only it were really that easy), and the general sense of fun of the text. Recommended for home and library purchase.  

Publisher: Clarion Books (@hmhkids) 
Publication Date: October 22, 2013
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

FTC Required Disclosure:

This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 2013 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


Idea for Increasing Your Child's Literacy: A Rear-Facing Stroller

I'm sharing some ideas that I picked up from a recent read of the 7th edition of Jim Trelease's The Read-Aloud Handbook (more details here). In Chapter One, Trelease proposes "one inexpensive, commonsense move that parents could make that would impact their children's language skills". The simple idea is to purchase a rear-facing stroller. Turns out that:

"Researchers (of parents using rear-facing strollers) found it makes a huge difference in how much conversation takes place between parent and child--twice as much when the child faces the parent." (Page 17)

The larger idea is that talking with your child is one of the ways that you help to build your child's vocabulary (on which much of the success of their future education rests). So, if you are regularly taking your infant out for walks in a stroller, using a rear-facing stroller increases your opportunity to engage with the child. Such a simple idea, but one that could make a big difference. (Obviously, this is less practical with a curious 2 year old who wants to see the world, even if you could find a rear-facing stroller). 

We actually did have a rear-facing stroller when my daughter was an infant (it was like the one shown above, where the car seat snaps into a base). But I must admit that was luck (and generous friends). Have any of you deliberately tried using a rear-facing stroller, so that you'll talk more with your baby?

© 2013 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. 


WordGirl's Word of the Month for October: Supernatural

SupernaturalFittingly enough as Halloween approaches, WordGirl's Word of the Month for October is supernatural: "Outside of what would appear in the natural world."  

This is a good month to introduce your children to stories about the supernatural, whether you are reading picture books like Creepy Carrots, classics like The House with a Clock in its Walls, or newer titles like The Graveyard Book

Wishing you supernatural times!


Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: October 18

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Note that I'm not including various links to suggested Cybils nominations, since the public nominating period for the Cybils ended October 15th.

Book Lists and Awards

New Beyond the Bestsellers series @bookriot from @catagator | Post 1: So You've Read DIVERGENT https://ow.ly/pOkbK #yalit

And now, the 2013 National Book Award SHORTlists..., reported by @bkshelvesofdoom https://ow.ly/pUOmj #yalit

A Tuesday Ten: Post Apocalyptic Middle Grade Science Fiction | Views From the Tesseract https://ow.ly/pT7CC #kidlit

Tricks and Treats - 3 Halloween Books Full of Spooky Fun! from @SproutsBkshelf https://ow.ly/pQTwC #kidlit

Latest So You Want to Read Middle Grade installment from Mike Jung @greenbeanblog https://ow.ly/pQSpe #kidlit

8 Books for 8 Year Old Boys (and Girls), favorites of @momandkiddo 's son https://ow.ly/pO9r0 #kidlit

Cybils

Cybils2013SmallRegular #Cybils Nominations are now closed, but we are accepting publisher + author submissions thru 10/25: https://ow.ly/pT5fw #kidlit

#Cybils nominations close tonight, and a shout-out for Armchair Cybils 2013 from @charlotteslib https://ow.ly/pR5uh #kidlit

Growing Bookworms

Reading out loud to kids is "the single most important thing that anybody can do with a child" https://ow.ly/pOjhT LubbockOL via @tashrow

Helping Young Children Love Chapter Books: Read Aloud Tips from Amy at Sunlit Pages, a guest post @momandkiddo https://ow.ly/pUUHK

Leveled Early Readers: Valuable Tool or Marketing Ploy? asks @delightchildbks https://ow.ly/pSVDK #literacy #kidlit

UK Children's Laureate Malorie Blackman: 'Children should be encouraged to read ebooks' @TelegraphNews https://ow.ly/pOj0a via @tashrow

Specialists agree reading to children is necessary for development @TimesDaily https://ow.ly/pOiHD via @tashrow #GrowingBookworms

Kidlitosphere

Re-Sendakify Sendak Project: The Results (fun stuff!) — @fuseeight @TheNiblings4 https://ow.ly/pQSWl #kidlit

At Finding Wonderland: #KIDLITCON: Where Everybody Knows Your Name (Or, the name of your blog) https://ow.ly/pT4k2

KidlitCon2013RT @JenBigheart: TEXAS: KidLitCon is heading our way next month! https://www.facebook.com/LiteraryLonestars?ref=hl …

Additional details about the KidLitosphere Conference, including precon event on 11/8, now up: https://ow.ly/pOK2t #kidlitcon

Just announced. Friday evening social event during #kidlitcon, Nov. 8th, at 5 pm at El Mercado, Austin. Details here: https://ow.ly/pTc4J

On Reading and Writing

ReadItForwardOn Facebook I shared the image to the left, via Read It Forward. I am happy to be in the 5%. 

The first online issue of Middle Shelf: Cool Reads for Kids Fall 2013 by @shelfmagazine is now available https://ow.ly/pOJ0w #kidlit

RT @tashrow More gadgets, more reading: Survey suggests e-reader and tablet owners read more books – https://buff.ly/15RTgtY #ebooks

I quite like this @HealthyLiving post on 7 Unconventional Reasons Why You Absolutely Should Be Reading Books https://ow.ly/pO8gT

Oyster’s “All You Can Read” ebook Service Now Available For iPad & Invite No Longer Required to Register | @sljournal https://ow.ly/pVmDR 

Programs and Research

FirstBook.jpgRT @FirstBook: Want quality books for your kids, but have no budget? You can now start your own Virtual Book Drive! https://bit.ly/19M2KV9 

Must read post from @GatheringBooks | Does the Accelerated Reader Program help develop Lifelong Readers? | https://ow.ly/pO73Q

Oh to be an avid 5th grade reader in Donalyn Miller's Review Club @NerdyBookClub @donalynbooks https://ow.ly/pT6Cs

Brought by Bagels. . .Bound by Books, a simple book club idea that works, from @PaulWHankins @NerdyBookClub https://ow.ly/pOa61

UK National @LiteracyTrust partners with @McDonalds to provide "reading tips" | The Bookseller https://ow.ly/pT0v6 via @playbythebook

McBooks Make Happy Meals Happier! — Annoyed Librarian @LibraryJournal is NOT a fan https://ow.ly/pQQJl #literacy

Schools and Libraries

RT @ReadingRockets: Diagrams, maps, tables & timelines: helping kids learn from graphics https://ow.ly/pUNZi  #elemchat #STEM

Stacked: Observations Upon Weeding: What My Teens Aren't Reading from @catagator https://ow.ly/pUWpx #yalit

Stacked: Baby Got Backlist and Don't Ever Forget It, on reader's advisory including older titles by @catagator https://ow.ly/pQTqs

True! Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming by @neilhimself | @guardianbooks https://ow.ly/pR0KP via @PragmaticMom

© 2013 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.