Rules of the Wild: An Unruly Book of Manners

Do you like children’s books that make you laugh? Do you enjoy rhyming books for kids? Do you love children’s books that also teach science and life lessons?  If you answered yes to these three questions, then you will love:

Rules of the Wild: An Unruly Book of Manners

Written by Bridget Levin and illustrated by Amanda Shepherd

I am excited to share this books with you all for Perfect Picture Book Friday, sponsored by the wonderful and talented Susanna Leonard Hill!

This book was published by Chronicle Books in 2004. It is appropriate for ages 3-7. Themes include animals, manners, and rhyming.

If your mom had a tail or your father a mane, the rules of your house might not be such a pain. Mother Piggy would say, “Eat whatever you like.” Father Fruit Bat would declare, “You can stay up all night.”

Online activities: Bridget Levin’s website offers several ideas for activities including “wild” recipes, art projects, a virtual tour of the Minnesota zoo, and lots of fun animal riddles.

Why I like this book: I like this book, because it makes kids laugh. The rhyming is great, and children also learn about animal behaviors vs. human manners. The illustrations are whimsical and fun.  There is also a fun table in the very back that illustrates all kinds of animal behaviors.


How Groundhog’s Garden Grew


Today I would like to share a book that I have been reading to my Kindergarten students all week. I think it is a perfect selection for Perfect Picture Book Friday sponsored by Susanna Leonard Hill!

How Groundhog’s Garden Grew

Written and illustrated by Lynne Cherry

Publisher: Blue Sky Press 2003

Audience: Ages 6-12

Themes: gardening, sharing, teaching, science

Opening: Little Groundhog was hungry.  “Beautiful! Scrumptious! Irresistible!” he exclaimed as he crept into a neighbor’s lovely vegetable garden. He was nibbling on some fresh green lettuce when Squirrel rushed down from her tree. “Little Groundhog!” Squirrel scolded. “This food does not belong to you.  If you take food that belongs to others, you will not have a friend in the world! Why don’t you plant your OWN garden?”

Little Groundhog admits that he does not know how to plant a garden, so Squirrel decides to teach Little Groundhog how to plant a fabulous garden filled with a variety of delicious vegetables. Little Groundhog learns about root crops, perreneals, vegetables that grow on vines, seedlings, and pollination. He is overjoyed as he watches his very own garden burst into life.  Squirrel even teaches Little Groundhog how to cook his vegetables, and together they host a feast for all the animals of the forest.

Curricular Link:

This website includes activities for journaling, learning vocabulary from the story, sequencing events, and writing postcards to Little Groundhog.

Why I like this book: I paired this book with a nonfiction book about gardening for my Kindergarten classes this week.  My students are learning about plants and vegetables, and they are planting a vegetable garden in our outdoor learning center.

This book is beautifullly illustrated. Lynne Cherry’s illustrations in How Groundhog’s Garden Grew are similar to those of Jan Brett’s in her many animal books. The book includes miniature pictures of vegetables and insects  around the borders of several of the pages, and each two page spread is realistically drawn with attention to every detail. 

The themes of this book also appeal to me. Squirrel teaches Little Groundhog to garden, and Little Groundhog learns how to be self-sufficient. He is so proud of himself at the end of the story, and he shares his feast with the other animals from whom he had previously been stealing vegetables. The book sends a great message to readers and it also includes a lot of gardening vocabulary.

Meet me at the Moon

Happy Friday! It’s great to be back on the blog. Life and work have kept me busy.   I am very excited to have a Spring Break next week!

Today I would like to share a wonderful picture book with all of you. Visit Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book Page to see a full list of perfect picture books contributed by authors, illustrators, teachers, librarians, and parents.

Title: Meet Me at the Moon

Written and Illustrated by: Gianna Marino

Published by: Penguin Group 2012

Themes: African savanna, elephants, love, water, mother/child

Audience: Ages 3-7

Opening: Beneath the shade of the baobab tree, Little One sang the calling song, and Mama came with a loving nuzzle.  “The land is dry, Little One,” Mama said.  “I must climb the highest mountain to ask the skies for rain.”

Synopsis: The dry season has arrived and Mama elephant must leave Little One to ask for rain. Little One does not want her Mama to leave and needs reassurance.  When Little One asks Mama how she will know she still loves her, Mama tells her that when she feels the warmth of the sun, she will be loving her baby. When Little One asks how her Mama will find her again, Mama tells her to meet her at the moon when the sky is bright. Mama leaves, and the earth cracks from drought. Finally rain comes, and Little One sits in the grass and sings the calling song to her Mother.  She sees Mama Elephant in the distance and they reunite under the bright moonlight.

Resources:  This book was recently published, and I was unable to find online activities for it. I think that the book could be paired with non-fiction books about the African savannah and elephants.  When I introduce a non-fiction subject in the library, I always pair it with a strong picture book.

Why I like this book: This book tells a heartwarming tale of a mother leaving her child for the first time.  Like most young children, Little One needs lots of reassurance that her Mama loves her and will return for her.  I don’t have a child of my own, but if I did, I think I would read this story to him/her before leaving for a significant period of time. (Which, for a child, could just be an afternoon)  I can imagine it being a book that we would return to again and again.

Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11

I’m writing this post on Thursday afternoon-tonight we will finally have our Night of Mystery! The kids wore their glow in the dark shirts to school today, and they are so excited about literacy night. I wrote a story for the principal to read at the end of the evening with a surprise ending. I really hope the students enjoy it! 🙂

My Perfect Picture Book Selection this week is Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11, written and illustrated by Brian Floca. It was published by Atheneum Books in 2009. This book is suitable for any age, but the reading and interest level is around third grade.

High above there is the Moon, cold and quiet, no air, no life, but glowing in the sky. Here below there are three men who close themselves in special clothes, who-click-lock hands in heavy gloves, who-click-lock heads in large round helmets. It is summer here in Florida, hot, and near the sea.  But now these men are dressed for colder, stranger places. They walk with stiff and awkward steps in suits not made for Earth. They have studies and practiced and trained, and said good-bye to family and froends. If all goes well, they will be gone for one week, gone where no one has been.”

Lesson Link:

Summary, awards, comprehension questions, and curricular activites

Why I like this book: Moonshot is beautifully illustrated and well-written. It is non-fiction, but it read much like a story. Michael Collins, Command Module Pilit for Apollo 11 said, “Reading Moonshot gave me the feeling I was back in space.” What an amazing compliment to the author/illustrator! Moonshot is also a Robert F. Sibert Honor Book. This award is given each year to distinguished informational books in the United States. My favorite page in the books is a two page spread of the rocket lifting off. “The rocket is released! It rises foot by foot, it rises pound by pound.” I really like the way Floca uses onomatopeia to create imagery in the story for young readers. His recreation of the events leading up to the launch and after are very real to life. The reader feels the excitement that the people sitting in front of their televisions felt that July day in 1969 when they listened to the sounds from outer space for the first time. At the end, there is a detailed expository piece about the history behind Apollo 11. This is one of the most excellent books about Apollo 11 for children that I have  read.

Do YOU Have a Hat?

Hooray for Perfect Picture Book Friday sponsored by the lovely Susanna Leonard Hill!

Title: Do YOU Have a Hat?

Written by Eileen Spinelli and Illustrated by Geraldo Valerio

2004 by Simon and Schuster

Suitable for: ages 3+

Themes: hats, historical figures, rhyme

“Do YOU have a hat? Something fuzzy, warm, and red, to keep the snowflakes off your head? Or maybe floppy-brimmed and blue, when summer sun shines down on you?  Do YOU have a hat?”  Next the author and illustrator introduce all sorts of famous people in history who wore memorable hats-some more famous than others. Did you know that Francisco de Goya wore a hat with candles on the brim? (Do you know who Francisco de Goya is?  I readily admit I did not.  I had to Google him!)

Link: Wild Geese Guides  This site provides a great lesson plan to accompany the story + curricular links!

Why I like this book: I like this book for several reasons.  First of all, I like hats. Secondly, Eileen Spinelli is one of THE most amazing authors for young children. I love the rhythm and rhyme in the story and the bright whimsical illustrations. Children are introduced to great historical figures like Carmen Miranda and Walt Whitman within a comprehensible context. My favorite line is, “Isabelle of Bavaria had a hat, a cone-shaped hat so very high it poked a gargoyle in the eye.”  This book is hysterical and educational!

A Big Thanks!!

A huge THANK YOU!! to two of my picture book blogging buddies:

Beth Stilborn and Joanna Marple!

Joanna gave me the Liebster Blog Award, and Beth gave me the Kreativ Blogger Award! I feel quite honored to have been recognized by these two ladies whom I admire a great deal. I learn something new each time I read their posts. Their writing is thoughtful and authentic. I feel we are becoming great friends even though we live thousands of miles apart! I am blessed to have met Beth and Joanna and all of the lovely people who are part of PiBoIdMo, Perfect Picture Book Friday, and 12×12.

I’m not sure how this works…I think I am supposed to list five things about myself for the Liebster Award and ten for the Kreativ Blogger Award… Hmmmm…I’ll be good to come up with ten!

1. I was adopted at birth, and I couldn’t have asked for better parents. I am blessed.

2. I am left-handed.  I am always surprised when people say, “Oh, you’re left-handed!” like it is something unusual…

3. I danced on a drill team in high school. I could practically kick my nose! (Wish I was still that flexible)

4. When I was a little girl I could not pronounce the letter “F.” On my fourth birthday my uncle asked me how old I was and I replied, “Well, I can’t say door, so I guess I’ll have to be dive!” (Heard that one for many, many years!! 🙂 )

5. I met my husband at my best friend’s wedding!

6. I can Texas two-step and jitterbug like mad 🙂

7. My favorite musical is Camelot.  When I was little we listened to that 8-track over and over again in the car. My mother took me to see the live performance in Houston several years ago and it took my breath away.

8. My favorite place on Earth is Palo Duro Canyon in the Texas Panhandle. When I am there I feel at peace.

9. I can snowboard but not snow ski.

10. I once entered a mosh pit at a Metallica concert. I don’t recommend it.

So there you have it folks! A few things that make me unique!

I would like to recognize the following ladies who have faithfully followed my blog since its inception. I always look forward to and appreciate their thoughtful comments! I hereby bestow on you both the Liebster and the Kreativ Blogger Awards! How’s that for breaking all the rules?!!

Susanna Leonard Hill 

Stacy Jensen 

Catherine Johnson

Patricia Tilton 

Cat Skidoo

Happy Happy Friday!

Here’s my pick for this Friday’s Perfect Picture Book. Be sure to check out Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture book page for lots and lots of perfect picture book links!

Title: Cat Skiddo

Written by Bethany Roberts and illustrated by R.W. Alley

2004 Henry Holt & Company

Suitable for ages:  0-6

“Kittens in the window-one cat, two, jumping down for… CAT SKIDOO! Pit-pat, pit-pat, across the floor.  Mew! Mew! Out the door!” These kitty cats are into everything! They tumble and they run, they scurry and they scritch-scratch up the elm tree. They pounce, bounce and jump. Uh-oh, here comes the dog!

Links: Bethany Roberts has an entire kids’ page on her website dedicated to her cat Shasta. Children can read cat riddles, play kitty concentration or kitty cat tic-tac-toe. I’m pretty sure Bethany Roberts LOVES cats! 

Why I like this book: Well, the obvious reason is that I LOVE cats, too! I have never been without a cat. My mother tells me that when I was just a year old or so I tried sitting on our cat Puff, because she looked like a comfy pillow. Puff, of course, did not comply! I love the quirkiness of cats and their ability to crawl, climb, or scoot their way into all kinds of spaces. The cats in Cat Skidoo remind me of my cat Dakota who still acts like a kitten even though he is about nine years old. The rhyming lines in the book flow with ease and  repetition makes the book great for emerging readers. The book is also full of great sound words.

Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain

Hooray for the weekend, and hooray for Perfect Picture Book Friday, sponsored by Susanna Leonard Hill!

Title: Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain

Retold by Verna Aardema and illustrated by Beatriz Vidal

Puffin Books 1981

Suitable for ages 5+

Themes: Africa, animals, crops, drought, rain

This is the great Kapiti Plain,

All fresh and green from the African rains-

A sea of grass for the birds to nest in,

And patches of shade for wild creatures to rest in…

Ki-Pat watches the lush green plains turn brown. His cattle grow hungry. A drought has struck the Kapiti Plain.  A large gray cloud filled with rain hovers over the plain. Ki-Pat makes a bow from an eagle’s feather, a leather thong, and a slender stick. He shoots the cloud with an arrow and the rains comes down with “thunder LOUD!”


Why I like this book:  This book is a favorite among my teachers.  The story unfolds like the nursery rhyme This is the House that Jack Built. A new line is added to each two page spread and the story builds until the rains fall. If you read this story out loud, don’t be surprised if your audience begins to chant the lines with you!

Rachel Carson: Preserving a Sense of Wonder

Perfect Picture Book Friday

Visit Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books page for a complete list of perfect picture books and links to resources and activities.

Title: Rachel Carson: Preserving a Sense of Wonder

Written by Joseph Bruchac and illustrated by Thomas Locker

Fulcrum Publishing 2004

Suitable for ages 8+

Themes: ocean, biology, conservation

Once there was a child whose love of nature would one day lead her to write a book that changed our world…” Rachel Carson knew she wanted to be a writer, but she first studied biology at the Pennsylvania College for Women.  She later moved to the coast of Maine where she wrote about the wonders of the sea.  Carson is well known for writing The Sea Around Us and The Edge of the Sea, but the book that she wrote in 1962 called Silent Spring is her most famous and influential work. This book alerted the public to the dangers of the chemical spray DDT to fragile ecosystems. Thanks in large part to Rachel’s book, the widespread use of the pesticide was banned in the United States. “Because of Rachel and her powerful words for nature, the rivers of our land now flow cleaner, the songbirds still sing from the apple trees, and the fish still swim in Rachel’s beloved sea.”

Links to resources:

Why I like this book: I found this book quite by accident yesterday as I was helping a student locate a biography about George Washington Carver. (Carver-Carson!) I had never heard of Rachel Carson,  and I was impressed by the beautiful painting on the cover. The story of Rachel’s life is written in a succinct and poetic manner.  Locker’s landscape paintings of Rachel and the ocean are breathtakingly beautiful. I could smell the salty ocean air as I turned the pages.

In the story a “chemical spray”  threatens to destroy the earth’s interconnected ecosystems. The term “DDT” is never mentioned. I was intrigued so I conducted a bit of research of my own.  I learned the name of the chemical, its uses, and its detrimental affects to nature. I think this book could be used to introduce children to the concept of interconnection in nature and nature conservation. Children are curious and will most likely want to conduct their own research on this bit of history.

Finally, I am impressed  that one writer (and  a woman in 1962!) and one book had such an impact on the chemical industry. Other factors surely played a role in ending the use of DDT, but Carson’s book was no doubt a large player.

The Wave of the Sea-Wolf

Writing a mystery…

I’ve got to break this post-once-a-week pattern!  Work is keeping me extremely busy. My biggest project right now is my mystery night in the library literacy event. My fourth grade students are currently in the brainstorming/planning phase of their mystery stories. I found a fantastic lesson and great templates to guide them.  Some students have hit the ground running while others are struggling with the story elements. I think that with enough support, I will be able to guide most of my students through the writing process with positive results. My biggest problem is time-not enough of it! I see each class for only 45 minutes a week.  When we get a little more pre-writing completed, I will have to send some work back to the classroom/home for those who want to finish for literacy night.  I am really enjoying this activity as I have not had the opportunity to teach creative writing in ten years. I’ll keep you all posted on our progress!

Perfect Picture Book Friday

Thank you Susanna Leonard Hill for keeping me on track!  At least I am posting once a week, because I would definitely not miss Perfect Picture Book Friday. I look forward to the challenge each and every week!

Title: The Wave of the Sea-Wolf

Story and pictures by: David Wisniewski

Clarion Books 1994

Suitable for: ages 9+

Themes: Native Americans, folklore, ocean, tsunamis

” From the misty land between sea and mountain, the tops of the tallest trees can rarely be seen. But when the clouds part, a marvelous thing can be observed against the sky-a war canoe, trapped in the trunk of a lofty cedar…” And so begins the legend of Gonakadet also known as the Sea-Wolf. Young Kchokeen, a Tlingit princess, journeys to the edge of the ocean with a group of village girls to pick berries after a long winter.  Her mother warns her not to go to close to the ocean, but seeing no danger, Kchokeen disobeys her mother and wades into the bay. While playing in the bay, the princess unknowingly steps on a piece of rotten wood and falls into a very large hole.  Unable to free herself, she sends the girls back to the village to bring help. Kchokeen remains trapped in the hole with a bear cub through the night.  Before a rescue party can reach them a large wave crashes over the hole and lifts Kchocheen and the cub out of the hole and into the water. They cling to a tree until the water recedes.  Cold and tired, Kchoheen gazes into the moon, and in its reflections she meets Gonakadet the Sea-Wolf.  Kchokeen returns to her village with a new power-she can predict the arrival of tsunamis. This blessing  proves to be an invaluable gift when the men in the big ships who wield metal arrive…

Links to resources:

Suggested activities for six multicultural books by David Wisniewski

Why I like this book:  I love sharing folktales with my students.  This one is especially interesting to me because it is based on a Pacific Northwest Native American legend. The area in which Kchokeen and her people lived is a strip of rainforest that runs from present day Washington state to Alaska’s Yakutat bay. I love all of David Wisniewski’s books. He was an amazing artist and storyteller. About ten years ago I taught in a private school that brought David Wisniewski to Dallas for a multicultural presentation. I remember  listening to him in awe as he described his book-making process. He painstakingly carved each detail out of card stock-like paper with an exacto knife tool.  Wisniewski then layered the paper to create a three dimensional effect. He told the students that he used over a thousand blades on a single book. The detail in the waves and the debris and the natives is remarkable. This book is a collection of artwork as well as a retelling of an age-old tale.