#Kidlit Imagine That! Biography of Dr. Seuss by Judy Sierra

Okay, I keep saying I’m going to quit reviewing while I write my own children’s books. Whenever I say it, of course I find something like the terrific new picture book biography Imagine That!: How Dr. Seuss Wrote The Cat in the Hat by Judy Sierra and illustrated by Kevin Hawkes and I just can’t stop myself from raving about it.

Writing a picture book biography of famous and highly prolific author Dr. Seuss is a hugely daunting task. Author Judy Sierra could have had problems if she had tried to cover his entire life. Instead she wisely narrows her topic to a limited window of time. She gives the essence of his life in a small capsule. It’s brilliant.

To set the stage, the author describes what kids might have been doing in 1954. Then, using just the right rhythmic tone, she reveals how it came about that Dr. Seuss began writing The Cat in the Hat that year. Next comes the central message:  given the struggles Dr. Seuss had writing the book using a limited vocabulary list, he could have easily given up. Instead he persevered, dug deep into his creative toolbox, and ultimately was successful. It is an important message delivered with a light touch.

The text isn’t the whole package, either. Kevin Hawkes’s illustrations are delightful as well, paying playful homage to Dr. Seuss’s style.

The bottom line is Imagine That!: How Dr. Seuss Wrote The Cat in the Hat is simply a picture perfect picture book biography. Check out a copy today.

Related Activity:

Have this book on hand for NEA’s Read Across America Day which is held every year on Theodore Seuss Geisel’s birthday. This year it will be Friday, March 2, 2018.

Of course, the biography should be accompanied by reading The Cat in the Hat.

The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss

Age Range: 3 – 7 years
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers (September 12, 2017)
ISBN-10: 0553510975
ISBN-13: 978-0553510973

Disclosure: This book was from our local library. 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 no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

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Reaching New Heights in #Kidlit If You Were the Moon by @LauraPSalas

Laura Purdie Salas has long been one of our favorite authors (see previous reviews for Water Can Be… and A Leaf Can Be…) In her newest, If You Were the Moon* illustrated by Jaime Kim, Salas reaches new heights.

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

Combining spare, imaginative text with denser scientific explanations, this book has potential for a multitude of uses. It can be a lovely bedtime book, the basis for a language arts lesson, or a great accompaniment to a lesson on the solar system.

Salas must inspire her illustrators to greatness, because Jaime Kim’s art positively shines.

If You Were the Moon is a must have for budding astronomers and poets everywhere.

See for yourself in this book trailer:

Related Activities:

1. Visit Laurie Purdie Salas’s website for downloadable teaching guides (long and short versions) and other goodies.

2. In the longer teaching guide, the author reveals that If You Were the Moon began as a list poem. Some of the earliest list poems were by Sei Shonogan, a Japanese writer/poet who lived around the year 1000. Here’s an example from The Pillow Book:

Things that Pass by Rapidly

A boat with its sail up.
People’s age.
Spring. Summer. Autumn. Winter.
~ Sei Shonogan

My own example (see more here):

Things my cat George likes:
Rubbing faces when he gets up in the morning
A dropped Cheerio
The top of the cat-scratching post
Chasing ping-pong balls down the stairs
Things I like:
My cat George

Encourage children to try writing a list poem.

3. See our growing list of poetry books about space at Science Books for Kids.

Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Publisher: Millbrook Press (March 1, 2017)
ISBN-10: 146778009X
ISBN-13: 978-1467780094

#kidlit Biography of Pete Seeger: Stand Up and Sing

“Pete Seeger was born with music in his bones”

That powerful statement encapsulates Susanna Reich’s new picture biography, Stand Up and Sing!: Pete Seeger, Folk Music, and the Path to Justice, illustrated by Adam Gustavson.


Why read about Pete Seeger? First of all, he was a popular musician. Many people have heard — or even sung — Pete Seeger’s folk songs.  In addition, he was a social activist interested in making a difference. For example, Seeger joined Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the protest marches in Alabama. It was a time when simply performing on the same stage with African American singer Paul Robeson made him the target of violence. By taking chances, however, he helped make changes.

In addition to standing up, Seeger could be creative with his efforts to bring about change. When he became upset about how polluted the Hudson River had become, rather than staging protests or writing letters, he decided to build a boat and take people out to see the damage first hand. The boat, named the Clearwater, is still sailing on the Hudson River and it is “clear” the water is cleaner these days because of Seeger’s endeavors.

(The Clearwater sailing up the Hudson River photographed by Anthony Pepitone licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license at Wikimedia.)

It is also “clear” author Susanna Reich is passionate about her subject. She explains her feelings of personal connection in the “Author’s Note” in the back matter. Among other ties, she lives in the Hudson Valley and attended many of Seeger’s concerts. Although she’s a big fan, when she started writing this book she probably had no idea how important and timely it would be.

Adam Gustavson’s illustrations shine a further light on Pete Seeger’s life. The main illustrations are digitally-enhanced paintings of gouache, watercolor, and/or oils. Accompanying the more formal illustrations are simpler line drawings that strengthen the down-to-earth tone.

All in all, Stand Up and Sing! is a rousing tribute to a popular folk singer. It is sure to appeal to young musicians and history buffs, alike. Time to sing its praises.

Age Range: 6 – 9 years
Publisher: Bloomsbury (March 14, 2017)
ISBN-10: 0802738125
ISBN-13: 978-0802738127

Suggestions for Related Activities:

1. Listen to some music by Pete Seeger.

2. Visit Sloop Clearwater website, especially  the Teacher Resources for a number of lesson plan and activity ideas (organized by grade and theme).

3. Pair this nonfiction biography with the delightful fiction picture book written by Pete Seeger, Abiyoyo (illustrated by Michael Hays). It is based on a South African folktale. Don’t skip the introduction because Seeger writes how he first told the story to his kids. He also has advice on how to develop and tell stories of your own.

Hardcover: 48 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers; Rei/Com edition (October 1, 2001)
ISBN-10: 0689846932
ISBN-13: 978-0689846939

See our previous review of another biography by Susanna Reich, Minette’s Feast: The Delicious Story of Julia Child and Her Cat.

Disclosure: These books were supplied by my local library. Also, 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 no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

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Looking for more children’s nonfiction books? Try the Nonfiction Monday blog.

New #Kidlit Mapping My Day Teaches Important Spatial Skills

Today’s the launch day for the new nonfiction picture book Mapping My Day by Julie Dillemuth and illustrated by Laura Wood.

Mapping My Day introduces basic map concepts and vocabulary by following main character Flora through her day. She wakes up to a lesson about cardinal directions, races to the bathroom while learning about map scale, and goes outside to use a treasure map full of landmarks. And that’s all before breakfast.

The back matter includes a “Note to Parents and Caregivers” which encourages children to participate and reinforce learning with suggestions for hands-on mapping activities.

You might wonder if, with the advent of the Global Positioning System (GPS), mapping might be becoming obsolete. Nothing could be further from the case. Maps are ways to present information visually, not only for geography, but also for many other fields including STEM. Plus, spatial skills learned from developing an understanding of maps are important for many careers.

All in all, Mapping My Day is a tool every educator of young children should have in their toolbox.

Related:

  • Download the activity pages from the back matter for free at the Magination Press website (which is the publishing arm of the American Psychological Association)
  • See a list of children’s books for preschoolers that cover spatial concepts.

For older children, tomorrow (3/14) is Pi Day. Check out the Pi Day information and activities at Growing with Science blog and the list of Pi Day books at Science Books for Kids.

Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Grade Level: Preschool – 3
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: Magination Press; 1 edition (March 13, 2017)
ISBN-10: 1433823330
ISBN-13: 978-1433823336

 

Disclosure: This book was supplied by the publisher for review purposes. Also, 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 no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

nonfictionmonday

Looking for more children’s nonfiction books? Try the Nonfiction Monday blog.