I Love Sharks, Too!

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I Love Sharks, Too! Leanne Shirtliffe, author. Lorenzo Montatore, illustrator. Sky Pony Press, 2017.

SteviI Love Sharks, Too!e can’t seem to do anything right. Throughout the day Mom barks at her energetic, shark-loving son: “Stevie, what did you do with your lost tooth?” “Will you quit squirming?” “Have you listened to anything I’ve said all day?” Stevie is part shark–at least he wants to be. So naturally, he responds to each of his mother’s quips with a true shark fact. Did you know that cookie cutter sharks eat their own teeth, whale sharks can’t stop moving and reef sharks can hear from miles away? Stevie’s constant rebuttals eventually wear his mom down. Check out this fict-informational picture book to find out what Mom sneaks off to do once Stevie is finally tucked into bed for the night. Endings don’t get any more satisfying.

Back matter includes more entertaining illustrations and cool information about specific species of sharks.

Animal Bodies Up Close series

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Melissa Stewart. Enslow Publishers, Inc. 2012.

Animals Up Close seriesDiscover how a variety of different animals, from the horse to the blue-footed booby, use certain parts of their bodies to survive. All of the animal features have incredible capabilities, and some even a truly unbelievable look. The four-eyed fish can see above and below the water line at the same time. The camel’s feet are as big as a dinner plate but only have two toes! Photos of each animal as well as a close-up of  its featured body part allows for an examination of the eyes, ears, feet, nose, tails and tongues under study. My girls delighted in proving to themselves, countless times, that the star-nosed mole has twenty-two tentacles on its pink nose. Terrific Tongues

The concise text about each animal part is clear and child-friendly. My five year-old flips first to the quiz at the back of each book, where teachers will also find a list of additional resources. This series would be a well-loved addition to any kindergarten to grade four classroom.

SUPERHERO SCHOOL

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Superhero SchoolAaron Reynolds, author. Andy Rash, illustrator.                Bloomsbury, 2009

Behold another favourite picture book of my precocious five year-old. She loves the illustrations of the monsters attacking the city outside the classroom window and the numerous comic-like characters. But more so, she wants to show anyone within earshot that she understands math beyond the counting and patterning she is doing in kindergarten (i.e. she likes to show off). The math in this book is cleverly disguised as a special mission for Leonard and the other students at superhero school. The math lessons that have been forced upon them suddenly become useful when ice zombies kidnap the teachers. To save them, the students must calculate the heat vision needed to blast through the fifteen foot ice wall, divvy up the ice zombies between them in order to attack, and more! When Mr. Tornado gives everyone an A+ on the math quiz, Leonard realizes he’s been duped. SUPERHERO SCHOOL runs a bit on the long side at 833 words, but is an energetic and entertaining read. There are even a few lines written in for adult entertainment. This picture book will inspire parents and educators to stealthily integrate math into the lives of their own budding superheroes, cooks, artists, athletes and ninjas.

PIRATE’S PERFECT PET

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Pirate's Perfect PetBeth Ferry, author. Matt Myers, Illustrator. Candlewick, 2016

My 5 year-old has chosen PIRATE’S PERFECT PET as her bedtime story every night for the last week. The pirate lingo is lost on her, and she doesn’t laugh at the line “shiver me Shih Tzus”, but she loves the bossy goose that makes Captain Crave walk a plank and the repeating line throughout. All ages will enjoy the clever language and detailed, hilarious illustrations in this rollicking read aloud about a pirate in search of the perfect pet. Although you may guess the pet that Captain Crave ends up with, the journey to find it is well worth the read (seven times over . . . and counting!).

My family loved Ferry’s picture book, LAND SHARK (Chronicle, 2015) and are now eagerly awaiting her future publications– according to her website, we have many to look forward to.

LIFE

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LifeCynthia Rylant, author. Brendan Wenzel, illustrator. Beach Lane Books, 2017

Life begins small . . . and grows. In much the same way this small picture book–it’s only 189 words–stirs then swells inside the reader. Animals of all types tell us that there is much to love about life, especially the day-to-day: I love the line: “. . . the turtle loves life. How could it not, with so much rain on its back?”

The various animals used to tell this tale of life’s joys, sorrows and perseverance through the wilderness to the Life_Whalescertain, happier times ahead add lightness and create child appeal. This poetic, meditative picture book will also resonate with adults facing challenges and bringing new life into the world.

 

 

Valentiny Writing Context

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Valentine ContestI have entered Susanna Leonard Hill’s Annual Valentiny Contest. The rules were to create a story in which someone is hopeful, using a maximum of 214 words. Here goes!

 

CAKE CHEMISTRY

Hazel’s mom loved chocolate. Hazel loved Mom.

Hazel took secret notes when they baked chocolate cake together.

On Valentine’s Day, Hazel awoke early to cook up Mom’s surprise.

One cup milk. One cup warm water. Halfway with oil.

Crack, plunk. Crack, plunk.

Sniff. Sni-i-i-f.

“Mmmm.”

Drip, drip.

Whisk, whisk, whisk.

Two scoops flour. Two scoops sugar. One scoop cocoa powder.

Mix, mix, mix.

Hmmm, was something missing . . .?

A dash of salt!

Hazel stirred until the ribbons of white disappeared.

Buttering the pan was Hazel’s job. But using the oven was not.

Knock, knock, knock.

“Hello, Hazel,” said Mrs. Wilson.

“Can I bake a cake in your apartment? It’s a surprise for Mom.”

Baking required a large serving of patience.

Between a bowl of porridge and a game of Go Fish, Hazel dashed to the oven window.

“It must need to cook longer.”

“Is the oven hot enough?”

“It’s still flat!” said Hazel. “Rise, cake. Rise!”

Eventually, the timer sounded: beep, beep, be-e-e-p.

“Mom’s cake is a flop!”

Knock, knock, knock.

“Is Hazel here?” said Mom.

“Yes. Come in, the coffee is on,” said Mrs. Wilson.

“Something smells good,” said Mom.

“I wanted to surprise you with a chocolate cake. But instead, we’re having . . . brownies. Happy Valentine’s Day!”

 

THE END

A COOKED-UP FAIRY TALE

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A Cooked-Up Fairy TalePenny Parker Klostermann, author. Ben Mantle, Illustrator. Random House, 2017

This clever fairy tale mash-up brings together not only characters from our favourite fairy tales, but also foods. Make those foods transformed by William, a budding chef who’s having difficulty finding his niche in fairy tale land. Snow White’s apple, Jack’s beans and Cinderella’s pumpkin all get made into gourmet dishes, altering the course of the fairy tales they are part of. Judy, the commander of fairy tale headquarters, is outraged. “Don’t you know anything about fairy tales?” she asks. Alas, William reads cookbooks, not fairy tales! When one of William’s concoctions creates a true recipe for disaster, he steps in to cook up a happy ending, which leads to his own happily ever after.

Ben Mantle’s illustrations are just as delicious as the text–bright, clear and filled with fairy tale tidbits children will devour. Pint-sized Judy, with her horn-rimmed glasses and grey hair streaks, adds a dash of wit to this delectable picture book.