Bug in a Vacuum

Bug in a Vacuum

Here’s my selection for Perfect Picture Book Friday:

Bug in a Vacuum
Written and Illustrated by Mélanie Watt
Tundra Books, 2015
Suitable for age: 5-9
Theme/Topic: Grief, Life Changing Events, Emotions


Opening Spread: The bug started here.
It flew into the house …


Brief Synopsis: From Amazon: A bug flies through an open door into a house, through a bathroom, across a kitchen and bedroom and into a living room … where its entire life changes with the switch of a button. Sucked into the void of a vacuum bag, this one little bug moves through denial, bargaining, anger, despair and eventually acceptance — the five stages of grief — as it comes to terms with its fate. Will there be a light at the end of the tunnel? Will there be dust bunnies in the void? A funny, suspenseful and poignant look at the travails of a bug trapped in a vacuum.


Resources: The book explains the five stages of grief in one sentence. Each stage is clearly marked in the story with illustrations and bugs emotions. A child and parent can discuss the bug’s emotions and actions at each stage.


Why I Like This Book:  This is a heavy book literally — 96 pages! Grief is a heavy topic and  I felt like the story is very adaptable to different ages. While my son focused on one aspect of life in the vacuum, another child may read something else into the story and illustrations. The book’s topic has the potential to be scary, but didn’t feel that way to our family.


We picked up a copy through our library. The timing was perfect as our community dealt with the issue of the Planned Parenthood shooting (one week ago today). The deaths and the hostage situation were discussed openly in many circles — at our kitchen table, via news channels, and during community events. I guess every local church service in town mentioned the tragedy. If Enzo had questions we answered them. It’s difficult to explain that not all bad guys go to jail or can be stopped.


The book, just like life, has an open-ended ending. It’s a good question to ask whether the bug lives or dies. I still haven’t decided.
 
For more PPBF books, visit Susanna Leonard Hill’s Blog.
I hope you have a wonderful and safe week.

Memoirs of a Goldfish

Memoirs of a Goldfish

Here’s my selection for Perfect Picture Book Friday:

Memoirs of a Goldfish
Written By Devin Scillian
Illustrated by Tim Bowers
Sleeping Bear Press, 2010
Suitable for: ages 4-7
Theme/Topic: Feelings, Home, Friendship


Opening Spread: Day One. I swam around my bowl.


Brief Synopsis: From Barnes and Noble —
With his bowl to himself, Goldfish loves his life…until one day…
A personal account from a goldfish on life in his bowl as other intruders crowd him.


Resources: Teaching Guide. Write a memoir about yourself over 14 days. Write about what you do and how you feel.


Why I Like This Book: I checked the lists and hope I’m not a repeat. I discovered this book recently thanks to Flowering Minds. I’m not sure how I’ve missed it over the years. More proof that there are so many great books to discover. I love the format of using the days to tell the Goldfish’s story. There are lots of emotions and friends packed into this book and this bowl.


For more PPBF books, visit Susanna Leonard Hill’s Blog.

Mr. Squirrel and the Moon

Mr. Squirrel and the Moon

Here’s my selection for Perfect Picture Book Friday:


Mr. Squirrel and the Moon
Author and Illustrator Sebastian Meschenmoser
North-South Books, Inc.
January 2015
First published in Germany under the title Herr Eichborn und der Mond (2006)
Suitable for: ages 2-5
Theme/Topic: Misunderstanding, Worry


Opening Spread: The book opens with two wordless spreads. The third spread: “One morning Mr. Squirrel woke up because the moon had fallen onto his tree.”


Brief Synopsis: from Barnes And Noble:  When Mr. Squirrel awakens to find that the moon has landed on his tree, he frantically tries to get rid of it before someone suspects him of stealing it and puts him in jail. But when he rolls the moon off of his tree, it’s gets stuck on Mrs. Hedgehog’s bristles and when the billy-goat arrives and butts it with his horns . . . Will the moon ever be the same again? Sebastian Meschenmoser’s hilarious illustrations and rollicking tale will be a bedtime favorite.


Resources: I really had hoped North-South Books had a resource for this, but I didn’t see one. I found this article on PBS about Talking with Kids About News. There are a number of books about worry to read and consider the journey the child character takes and the resolution.  Owl Babies by Martin Waddell. Found by Salina Yoon also involves a bit of worry and misunderstanding.


Why I like this book: While I understand this selection is not perfect for everyone, I really enjoyed this book. Enzo enjoyed it the first time, and my laughter at asking him “do you know what it means to be in jail?” may have influenced him.
Poor Mr. Squirrel frets over the “moon” at his house … “If someone came looking for it now and found it … here, with him … they would think he was the thief. He’d be arrested and thrown into prison ….” The page turn reveals a spread of the inmate crafting and the poor squirrel in a prison uniform.
The reviews are good for this book. It was a Top Ten Indie Next Pick book in January.


Here’s one quote from the Barnes and Noble listing:

“As this book proves, squirrels, jail sequences, and edible heavenly bodies make for picture book gold. Delicious…if I had my way every Caldecott would go to Sebastian Meschmenmoser, regardless of citizenship or whether or not he has a book out in a given year.”-Fuse #8 Production/School Library Journal, Elizabeth Bird

Yes. Squirrels, jail sequences, and cheese are a magical mixture.
 
I know. I know. In many ways you think, “But, Stacy this doesn’t sound like a children’s book.”
But, it is.
The animal antics are enough to make any reader laugh. And, as Enzo said to me later. “Silly squirrel. It was just cheese.”
 
If you can find it, read it. I’ve recommended this book to several people and found myself babbling to picture book friends, a picture book editor, and a librarian about the “cumulative toilet scene.” I know. It sounds crazy, but like any great picture book it’s perfect when it all mixes together.
For more PPBF books, visit Susanna Leonard Hill’s Blog.


The Halloweensie contest was a lot of fun. Gilda’s Zombie Fix received an honorable mention for Great Kid Appeal. I knew tooting was a good direction.


The contest is always a lot of fun. Read all about the winners here. Enjoy the week.

Halloweensie: Gilda’s Zombie Fix

Halloweensie: Gilda’s Zombie Fix

It’s the most spooktacular time of year!
The Halloweensie Contest!


Author extraordinaire Susanna Leonard Hill runs this contest and it’s a ton of fun. The rules follow my entry:

Gilda’s Zombie Fix

By Stacy S. Jensen

On Halloween, Gilda always wore a white costume.
She always ate dark chocolate.
And, she always visited an old haunt.
 
But, this year was different.
Her friends acted a bit alien-ish.
Their moans signaled trouble.
Gilda grabbed her emergency bag.
 
She passed out water, candy, and encouragement.
“Keep shuffling! Now drag a foot.”
 
Most zombies perked up, but not Isaac.
Gilda gave him a brussels sprout.
 
When Isaac tooted, he was normal again.
“Let’s Trick or Treat!” he said.
 
Gilda took Isaac to Planet #893, where neighbors gave the best treats in the universe — chocolate covered brains.
Word Count: 97
The rules are here.


Basically, you write a children’s story in 100 words or less; include three words — costume, dark, and haunt, and  no illustration notes. Seriously, it’s 100 words period (not including the title). The story can be scary, funny, prose, rhyme … just about anything you want, as long as it is geared toward children.


Stories should be posted on your blog between Oct. 26 and Oct. 30. Be sure to check the rules for the posting deadline and options on how to post a story, if you don’t have a blog. There are wonderful prizes and more importantly there are dozens (if not a 100-plus) of fun stories to read.


To read additional entries, visit Susanna’s blog.

If Waffles Were Like Boys

If Waffles Were Like Boys

Here’s my selection for Perfect Picture Book Friday:

If Waffles Were Like Boys
Written by Charise Mericle Harper
Illustrated by Scott Magoon
Balzer+Bray, 2011
Suitable for: ages 4-8
Theme/Topic: Comparison, Adventure


Opening Spread: If waffles were like boys … [page turn]
breakfast would be a BATTLEFIELD!


Brief Synopsis: From Amazon.com description—
What if everything were just like boys?


If shopping carts were like boys . . . grocery stores would be racetracks!
If pillows were like boys . . . bedrooms would besuperhero hideouts!
Perfect for bedtime, this funny and tender celebration of boyhood will have everyone seeing their world in a whole new way.


Resources: Create your own story with different objects. Use the construction like in Charise’s story: If ____ were like boys/girls … _____(what would happen). It’s sort of an if … then construction. For example… If zombies were like boys … brains would be fast food. (Or something silly like that.) Several books with a similar format include:  Miranda Paul’s book Water is Water (we discuss this a lot on foggy or wet days), Jim Averbeck’s Except If, and Sean Taylor’s When a Monster is Born (which offers two possibilities for every scenario). Lots of possibilities to compare and contrast with this book. You can also discuss whether you agree with the ending of each line or not?


Why I Like This Book: We found this book while researching a publisher. The side benefit is that Enzo and I had a fun time exploring the different scenarios in the book. “If shopping carts were like boys …  grocery stores would be RACETRACKS!” The story obviously generalizes some boy behaviors. And, many of them fit into my boy’s mindset, so he liked the book.  Since we read this book, we’ve added several more of Charise’s books on our library list. She has a really cool FAQ – kid focused – on her website.


For more PPBF books, visit Susanna Leonard Hill’s Blog.



 

Friendshape

Friendshape

Here’s my selection for Perfect Picture Book Friday:

Friendshape
Written By Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Illustrated By Tom Lichtenheld
Scholastic Press, 2015
Suitable for: ages 3 to 5
Theme/Topic: Friendship, concept: shapes


Opening Spread: The opening spread is the title page which introduces you quickly to the shapes.
First spread: What’s so great about having Friends?
[Triangle] We’re glad you asked!
[Rectangle] See, the great thing about friends is …
[Circle] Everything!


Brief synopsis: Friends shape who we are.

Resources: Cut out your own version of rectangle, circle, square, and triangle. A family can act out the story with the shapes featured in the book.  Study the story and create images using your shapes. Use the story to discuss your favorite friendship qualities (and maybe the areas you need to work on in your day).


Why I Like This Book: Friendshape shapes (couldn’t resist) a sweet, simple message about friendships. The shapes carry the story from the jacket flap cover to The End. I also love that the endpapers are the four colors of the shapes.

For more PPBF books, visit Susanna Leonard Hill’s Blog.


I’ll include these links of recent blog posts at other sites … you know in case you want to read another blog post.
Contest Win Left Me Feeling a Little Deflated
Quilling in Style with Stacy S. Jensen