November is an exciting month in the world of children’s literature because it is Picture Book Month! Let’s read, blog about, and get excited about picture books! Be sure to visit the link for daily essays and information about children’s picture book authors and illustrators, as well as lesson ideas and activities.
What better way to start out than sharing a fascinating new picture book, King for a Day by Rukhsana Khan and illustrated by Christiane Krömer?
Set in Lahore, Pakistan during the kite festival of Basant, Malik has made only one kite to use in the kite battles. It is a special kite named Falcon. Will one kite be enough to help him defeat the bully next door? Will it be enough to allow him to become the king of Basant?
Illustrated with mixed-media collages, the reader can almost feel the breeze that lifts the kites off the pages. The lively, fast-paced text keeps up the excitement and suspense.
Canadian author Rukhsana Khan was born in Lahore, Pakistan and is a perfect tour guide to introduce children to the region.
Looking for a book to accompany a geography lesson, introduce a culture, tackle the theme of bullying or teach an important lesson about overcoming obstacles? King for a Day is all that and much more. It is a terrific example of why we celebrate Picture Book Month!
Reading level: Grade 3
School & Library Binding: 32 pages
Publisher: Lee & Low Books (October 2013)
Disclosures: This book was provided electronically for review purposes. I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at not extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.
The Good Garden: How One Family Went from Hunger to Having Enough by Katie Smith Milway and illustrated by Sylvie Daigneault (obtained as an electronic galley at NetGalley) is an inspiring story of a young girl from the hills of Honduras who helped her family learn how to grow their crops sustainably. Although listed in the children’s nonfiction section, the use of dialogue and made up names pushes it over into the creative nonfiction category.
In the beginning María’s family was struggling to grow enough even to feed themselves. When a new teacher comes to town, he teaches everyone new ways to grow crops, for example using terraces to cut down on erosion. Later he shows María and her family how to take their extra vegetables to the town and sell them directly, cutting out the greedy middle men called coyotes. By the end, they are able to make enough money to cover their basic needs.
Starting out life as one of five sisters and daughter of a single parent, Ellen Ochoa could have gone in many directions. She chose to go to school and study hard. She majored in electrical engineering at Stanford University, where she earned her doctorate by studying optical systems. After becoming a pioneer in the field and inventing optical devices used in recognizing images, she went to work for NASA. She became the first female Hispanic astronaut in July 1991. Participating in four space flights, Dr. Ochoa was in space over 978 hours. She currently serves as Deputy Director at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. What an inspiring woman!
If you are interested in learning more, try Ellen Ochoa: The First Hispanic Woman Astronaut or one of the other age-appropriate biographies of Ellen Ochoa:
For other inspiring stories of women astronauts to celebrate World Space Week, be sure to check:
Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream by Tanya Lee Stone
Note: I have to admit I didn’t care for this one on my first reading, somewhat because there are so many women to keep track of. I liked it much better with a second reading.
Roberta Bondar: Canada’s First Woman in Space by Judy Wearing is about another inspiring woman who worked hard and sacrificed to become an astronaut.
I have a confession to make. I absolutely love Chicago Review Press’ children’s books with hands-on activities. They are fabulous. Given that, it is no wonder Valerie Petrillo’s A Kid’s Guide to Latino History: More than 50 Activities is the book I picked for Hispanic Heritage Month.
Wrapped around so many juicy projects that you want to do them all at once, is the history of Latinos starting from Columbus’s discovery of the New World for Spain. This history is not an easy one to read, and it is could be controversial in our current political climate. Petrillo hits the right tone, however, with a quick and straightforward recitation of the facts. She has a lot of information to cover, and she gets right to the point. She supplies enough details to keep children interested. but not so many they are overwhelmed.
Without a doubt, however, the activities are the star of this wonderful book. Starting with a recipe for Champurrado, a drink with Spanish roots, to designing a poster to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, this book has a wealth of activities. There are games, toys, crafts, dances and food. These are thoughtful, carefully-researched projects that truly reinforce learning. The activities could be used with the text or stand alone. Every educator will want a copy of this incredibly useful resource nearby.
In fact there are so many wonderful projects, I wish Hispanic Heritage Month lasted all year!
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Chicago Review Press (August 1, 2009)