Friday, May 27, 2016

The Well Read Guess (Week 11)

Each week I post quotes from 2 picture books - a new(er) picture book and a classic picture book. Be the first to identify a quote (by the following Tuesday at noon), and earn an entry into the current monthly giveaway! Identify both the book and the author for a quote, and you'll get two entries. Identify both for both quotes, get four entries.

Want a shot every week? Sign up to follow me to be alerted to new posts via email on the sidebar (subscribers are automatically entered into EVERY monthly contest)!

Quote #1 (Brand-Spankin'-New-Book): Where's the Party? by Ruth Chan
"Georgie understood. Georgie liked pickles, and knew that a good pickle took time."


Quote #2 (Classic Book): Corduroy Lost and Found by Don Freeman and Jody Wheeler
"The familiar neighborhood looked very different. And where was Lisa's balloon? Then he saw it at the end of the street. 'It's getting away!' "



Monthly Giveaway: An OCTOPUS Prize Pack! (thru 6/30/2016)

The winner of this month's giveaway will receive an OCTOPUS Prize Pack, including an adorable Octopus plush (Wild Republic 8"), Octopus Alone by Divya Srinivasan, Be Glad Your Dad (is Not an Octopus) by Matt Logelin and Sara Jensen, and Thank you, Octopus by Darren Farrell!
 
Stumped? Check out Facebook and Twitter for clues.

Good luck and happy reading!

Rules Governing Sweepstakes




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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Well Read Review: The Storm (Akiko Miyakoshi)

The Storm 
Akiko Miyakoshi (Author/Illustrator)
Kids Can Press
BookPeople | IndieBound | Barnes and Noble | Amazon


While at first glance the grayscale charcoal drawings of Akiko Miyakoshi's The Storm seem to be nearly as simplistic as the spare, succinct text, a closer look reveals something more. Miyakoshi's artwork manages to capture the monotony of daily life, preparations for a storm, the patience of loving parents and most of all, the emotion of a child disappointed to potentially miss a trip to the beach: sullen on the couch, mopey (and probably a tad irritating) during dinner preparation, and anxious as a storm rolls in.

"I just mope...I don't want to go next week. I want to go tomorrow." and "The wind howls and blows. I try not to be scared."
Even with minimal facial details, the emotion depicted is sincere and realistic. Readers will find these emotions both identifiable and relatable; Miyakoshi's economical text mirrors the images well.

A fairly straightforward story with a happy ending, the climax of The Storm involves the child's defeat of the storm in his dreams, as he bravely faces the storm from the crow's nest of a giant propeller ship. The images darken as the child's fear builds along with the intensity of the storm (and nightfall), brightening as the boy finds his confidence, pushing the clouds away. The final spread incorporates sky blue - the first use of color in the book - in a hopeful, happy depiction of a child's dream coming true.

I found The Storm to be a quiet read, most likely best for one-on-one reads. For additional work by Miyakoshi, check out The Tea Party in the Woods.  

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Monday, May 23, 2016

Books for Reluctant (pre-)Readers

"Reading should not be presented to children as a chore or duty. It should be offered to them as a precious gift."
— Kate DiCamillo

While I am immeasurably happy to have a child who loves books and libraries and bookstores, I know I am lucky. But as research mounts about the importance of reading to children, I think it is also important to acknowledge that not all kids love reading - or being read to. And while it isn't difficult to find lists of books for reluctant readers, I've found it nearly impossible to find lists of books for those who don't like books, but aren't yet reading themselves - the picture book audience. One of the best ways to ensure you don't have a reluctant reader (and prevent future reading problems) is to encourage a fondness for books well before kids are expected to read to themselves. 
Reading to toddlers sets the foundation for later independent reading. Reading problems can be challenging to fix when discovered in elementary school, but most reading problems can be prevented if exposure to reading starts in the toddler and preschool years. Before children can read independently, they need emergent literacy skills. These include:
  • having a large vocabulary of words and knowing how to use them
  • understanding that words are made up of smaller sounds (called phonemic awareness)
  • understanding that marks on a page represent letters and words
  • knowing the letters of the alphabet
Kidshealth.org, "Toddler Reading Time"

I've rounded up a list of books that offer different approaches to traditional storytelling. While not all of the books will be appealing to every reader, my hope is that any one of these thirty books may crack the door to a lifelong love of reading for your child. Some books belong in more than one category, but to simplify, I've only put each book on the list once.


Humorous Books
Kids love to laugh, and if you can laugh along with them, you'll foster a feeling of happiness and fun at storytime. And while there are a lot of books that kids may find funny, these will most likely get a chuckle or two from parents as well.

Thank You, Octopus by Darren Farrell   
Shh! We Have a Plan by Chris Haughton 
Amazon | B&N | IndieBound
Stuck by Oliver Jeffers 
Amazon | B&N | IndieBound
Baa Baa Smart Sheep by Mark and Rowan Sommerset 
Amazon | B&N | IndieBound
I Love Cake! (Starring Rabbit, Porcupine and Moose) by Tammi Sauer 
Amazon | B&N | IndieBound

Rhyming Books
Some kids do very well with rhyming and repetition, as these tools give readers a little bit of power over the story. When kids can figure out what the next word or line will be, they feel a little magical, a little more confident...and a little more tolerant of reading.

There Was an Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight by Penny Parker Klostermann
Amazon | B&N | IndieBound
Huck Runs Amuck! by Sean Taylor 
Amazon | B&N | IndieBound
The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen 
Amazon | B&N | IndieBound
The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson
Amazon | B&N | IndieBound
The Three Ninja Pigs by Corey Rosen Schwartz
Amazon | B&N | IndieBound


Metafiction (Breaking the "4th Wall")/Interactive
Playful, humorous books that invite the reader to participate help engage reluctant listeners/readers. These books each have an aspect that will pull kids into the story, from finding a dragon on each page or identifying each "culprit" to moving the story along by completing a motion and downright silliness. 

The Book With No Pictures by B.J. Novak
Amazon | B&N | IndieBound
We Are in a Book! (An Elephant and Piggie Book) by Mo Willems
Amazon | B&N | IndieBound
Who Done It? by Olivier Tallec
Amazon | B&N | IndieBound
Have You Seen My Dragon? by Steve Light
Amazon | B&N | IndieBound
Touch the Brightest Star by Christie Matheson
Amazon | B&N | IndieBound 

Wordless Books
Similarly to interactive books, wordless books are also a great tool for engaging readers. Although this seems contradictory, wordless books allow readers to create within a basic framework - but the story can be completely theirs. What is the little girl saying? Thinking? What is the raccoon up to? Where is the boy going? All of these questions might be answered by the pictures in some way, but think of these as (beautiful!) Choose Your Own Adventure books for the very young. 

Flora and the Peacocks by Molly Idle
Amazon | B&N | IndieBound 
Journey by Aaron Becker
Amazon | B&N | IndieBound 
The Girl and the Bicycle by Mark Pett
Amazon | B&N | IndieBound 
Flashlight by Lizi Boyd
Amazon | B&N | IndieBound 
Wave by Suzy Lee
Amazon | B&N | IndieBound  


Onomatopoeic Books
Similarly to rhyming books and musical books, having fun with sound is an engaging way to pull readers in. Swish, swoosh, creak, tap or pitter-pat into one!  

Creak! Said the Bed by Phyllis Root
Amazon | B&N | IndieBound 
Tippy-Tippy-Tippy, Hide! by Candace Fleming
Amazon | B&N | IndieBound
Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin
Amazon | B&N | IndieBound
Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson
Amazon | B&N | IndieBound
Utterly Otterly Day by Mary Casanova 
Amazon | B&N | IndieBound 

Musical Books
Music and singing are great for kids, in many of the same ways that reading is - singing promotes literacy by increasing vocabulary, teaching structural elements such as repetition and rhythm, predictability and cause and effect. Books incorporating singing and music into them pull a sort of double duty, allowing readers to have fun and play while picking up tools that will make them even more successful readers.

The Nuts: Sing and Dance in Your Polka-Dot Pants by Eric Litwin
Amazon | B&N | IndieBound 
Maisy's Band by Lucy Cousins
Amazon | B&N | IndieBound 
Squeak, Rumble, Whomp! Whomp! Whomp! by Wynton Marsalis
Amazon | B&N | IndieBound 
This Jazz Man by Karen Ehrhardt
Amazon | B&N | IndieBound 
Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah! (A Letter From Camp) by Allan Sherman, Lou Busch*
Amazon | B&N | IndieBound 

In addition to the list of books above, you can find some great tips for reading to children here and here. My favorite tip is one that I picked up as a summer school camp counselor, even though it seems counter-intuitive: kids don't have to sit still to be engaging with a story. Let them play with other toys while you read, let them wiggle. You might be surprised how much of the story they've actually picked up, even when it seems that they are a million miles away. And most importantly, don't give up!

I'd love to hear in the comments if you have suggestions for other books to help reluctant pre-readers! Happy Reading! 

*This one probably works best if you have nostalgic memories of hearing the song throughout your childhood, or at least have heard the song! 

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Friday, May 20, 2016

The Well Read Guess (Week 10)

Each week I post quotes from 2 picture books - a new(er) picture book and a classic picture book. Be the first to identify a quote (by the following Tuesday at noon), and earn an entry into the current monthly giveaway! Identify both the book and the author for a quote, and you'll get two entries. Identify both for both quotes, get four entries.

Want a shot every week? Sign up to follow me to be alerted to new posts via email on the sidebar (subscribers are automatically entered into EVERY monthly contest)!

Quote #1 (Brand-Spankin'-New-Book): Oh No, Astro! by Matt Roeser, Brad Woodard
"Please keep your distance. You stay in your orbit and I'll stay in mine. It's one of the core rules of the cosmos, you know. And yet, you've come closer."

and

"Meanwhile, an Earth girl named Nova was enjoying a quiet night of stargazing, when something caught her eye."

Quote #2 (Classic Book): Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs by Judi and Ron Barrett
"After a brief shower of orange juice, low clouds of sunny-side up eggs moved in followed by pieces of toast. Butter and jelly sprinkled down for the toast. And most of the time it rained milk afterwards."



Monthly Giveaway: Middle Grade Prize Pack!

The winner of this month's giveaway will receive a Middle Grade Prize Pack, including Bridge to Terabithia, Pippi Longstocking, James and the Giant Peach, and Holes!
 
Stumped? Check out Facebook and Twitter for clues.

Good luck and happy reading!

Rules Governing Sweepstakes




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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Marvelous Creators of Beautiful Things

There’s nothing so dull as translating books that are beautifully written into a picture — the author’s already done that, so you as an illustrator must contribute something else: adorn the word, or go inside the word, or go around the word, but extend it in some marvelous way to make it a beautiful thing.
 Maurice Sendak 
(read more from Studs Terkel's interview with Maurice Sendak here)

Picture books are meant to be read aloud, to be savored and enjoyed. But while the words are being read aloud, wiggly listeners make sense of a story through its illustrations. The illustrations make the story come to life; in the best picture books the illustrations show us the new, different and magical paths these lives are taking. 

Unfortunately, like writers, most illustrators - no matter how fabulous - can't survive on book illustration alone. Fortunately, this means many of them also have amazing online art stores, so we can purchase their art, some from published stories, some not. 

As someone who knows that I will never illustrate my own stories because there are artists with much more capable hands and imaginations to handle that, I want to take a minute to celebrate some of those beautiful imaginations.  Here are a few I admire - go check them out! I hope if you are looking for new art, you'll consider some of these talented artists!

Collecting Specimens by Marsha Riti

Marsha Riti
The fabulous Marsha Riti is a freelance illustrator based out of Austin, Texas. A member of the Girllustrators (including other fantastic illustrators Patrice Barton, Amy Farrier, Lalena Fisher, Shelley Ann Jackson, Emma Virjan and Luz Marie Iturbe), Marsha is the illustrator of the popular Critter Club series, among others. Check out her Artist Site or SHOP!



Fish Ice Cream by Nessa Dee


Nessa Dee
Vanessa is an amazingly talented writer, illustrator and artist.
She also calls Austin home, making beautiful art for 
"magazines, children's books, and homes around the world." 
I couldn't agree more! Visit her Artist Site or SHOP!



Waiting by Lee White
Lee White
Squishster
Butterflies
Not in Austin, y'all...but has a tie to Texas
through the illustrations of the superbly talented Paige Britt's The Lost Track of Time. Lee is in Portland, Oregon creating amazing art. I couldn't decide which one to put in my post as there are SO many that are gorgeous and delightful. Please check out any of the following!  Artist Blog or  SHOP! (artist shop) or SHOP! (Etsy). And...if anyone should happen to be looking for a gift for me, if Butterflies were to suddenly show up on my doorstep I would be one happy camper (it reminds me of this orange chair photo of my Squishster, and that makes me happy). 


The Snail's Daydream by Eric Fan
Eric and Terry Fan

You already know I am a huge fan of the Fan Brothers (like what
I did there? It's probably as good as "Come On, Eileen"), the tremendously talented duo behind The Night Gardener, so it
probably is no surprise that I am happily featuring their work. They have a shared Author Site but individual shops for their evocative artwork: SHOP! (Eric Fan) and SHOP! (Terry Fan). Go. Swiftly.


Alpaca by Lita Judge
Lita Judge
Art from Hoot and Peep, Flight School, Red Hat, Red Sled...no additional information needed! Except that you can also get signed books, too. And original paintings. Lita's Author Site and SHOP! And if you follow her on Facebook, you'll get to see adorable posts of works in progress like Alpacas (yes!) and Beatrix, the cutest bird in my Facebook feed (you'd be surprised, I promise).



Giraffeboy? by Kyle McBride




Kyle McBride
And last, but certainly not least, the accomplished Kyle McBride. While Kyle's art is not currently for sale, he is definitely someone to watch! I imagine he and his beautiful wife, Noelle will have a picture book featured on this site at some point soon. While we wait, we can at least take a sneak peek at the art on his Artist Site.





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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Well Read Review: Teeny Tiny Toady and Finding Wild

Teeny Tiny Toady
Jill Esbaum (Author), Keika Yamaguchi (Illustrator)
Sterling Children's Books
BookPeople
IndieBound 
Barnes and Noble
Amazon 

" 'I'm too little,' Teeny blubbered. 'I can't do it! Not alone!' But she had to, had to, had to. Tiny Teeny, on her own."

After summoning her brothers to help rescue her mother (who has been trapped in a bucket), Teeny is pushed out of the way with the assumption that she is too little to help. When all of the brothers also find themselves trapped in the bucket, it is up to Teeny to find her courage, put her plans into action and rescue the entire family.

Teeny is cute (especially in illustration, a tiny pink toad juxtaposed with the more expected brown, lumpy toad of her brothers), BUT she's also intelligent and brave. I love that her smarts show throughout the story - "Could we lift her out somehow?" and "You need a ladder" - even if the brothers aren't hearing. She doesn't need anyone to help her find the answer once she realizes that it is up to her (a little nudge to find her own bravery, which is often a hard thing to find), and though the illustrations show her enlisting help, this just highlights more great character traits, an ability to lead, be friendly and cooperative. Her plan didn't take muscles, "just brains and clever feet."

The emotion and the message are spot on. Kids will be able to relate to this tiniest of toads, who gives us a great example of believing in yourself.

And...completely unrelated to the story, I just recently discovered that toads are frogs, in the same way that squares are rectangles (toads are frogs, but frogs aren't toads). I feel a little silly having made it this far into my life without knowing this piece of information, but...there you go. Maybe I'm not the only one?


Finding Wild
Megan Wagner Lloyd (Author), Abigail Halpin (Illustrator)
Alfred A. Knopf
BookPeople
IndieBound
Barnes and Noble
Amazon

Finding Wild is a beautiful story, made even more so by Halpin's simple but well-imagined watercolor/pencil illustrations. The illustrations follow a girl and boy on a journey from city, to wild, back to city...and back to wild. The fragile aspects of nature are counter-balanced with the dangerous side of wild, the rough with the smooth, the painful with the soothing. My favorite contrast:
"Wild roars and barks and hisses and brays. It storm-thunders and wind-whispers. Wild sings."

As the children come out of their journey and re-emerge in the city, they find themselves looking everywhere for wild (unsuccessfully), until "about to give up - There." The children find wild again, hidden away, but "still standing strong."

The lyricism of the text brings readers on a journey of our own, using all of our senses. We see wild, sometimes subtle and tricky, sometimes so large "you can't possibly miss it." We hear wild slither and sing. We breathe in its smells - mint and pine and sea. We feel wild's heat and cold, its stings and breezes. We can (almost) taste its bounty, "honey from bees and sap from trees, swift-melting snowflakes and juice-bursting blackberries."

Finding Wild is an appealing reminder that even if wild seems hidden, it is always there for those who are looking - "waiting to be discovered" again, and again, and again.

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Friday, May 13, 2016

The Well Read Guess (Week 9)

Each week I post quotes from 2 picture books - a new(er) picture book and a classic picture book. Be the first to identify a quote (by the following Tuesday at noon), and earn an entry into the current monthly giveaway! Identify both the book and the author for a quote, and you'll get two entries. Identify both for both quotes, get four entries.

Want a shot every week? Sign up to follow me to be alerted to new posts via email on the sidebar (subscribers are automatically entered into EVERY monthly contest)!

Quote #1 (Brand-Spankin'-New-Book): Finding Wild by Megan Wagner Lloyd
"Wild keeps many secrets, waiting to be discovered - like its candy: honey from bees and sap from trees, swift-melting snowflakes and juice-bursting blackberries."

Quote #2 (Modern Classic Book): All the World by Liz Garton Scanlon
 "Hive, bee, wings, hum...Husk, cob, corn, yum!"


Monthly Giveaway: Middle Grade Prize Pack!

The winner of this month's giveaway will receive a Middle Grade Prize Pack, including Bridge to Terabithia, Pippi Longstocking, James and the Giant Peach, and Holes!
 
Stumped? Check out Facebook and Twitter for clues.

Good luck and happy reading!

Rules Governing Sweepstakes



Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Books We've Been Loving

Recently I've read several books that I am completely surprised I knew nothing about - wonderful, beautiful books that have been out for a couple of years (or more). I thought if I hadn't heard of them, other people might not have either (or I've been under a rock, which is also, completely possible). Either way, here's the list!

Maddi's Fridge
Lois Brandt (Author), Vin Vogel (Illustrator)
BookPeople
IndieBound
Amazon
 
I cannot stress how beautiful this book is. It is simple, kid-friendly and makes me cry - every single time I read it. And 10% of the profits go to help fight childhood hunger. Win, win, win! Buy it if you can! (Also fun - Vin Vogel's debut book as author/illustrator, The Thing About Yetis)


Tiny Creatures: The World of Microbes
Nicola Davies (Author), Emily Sutton (Illustrator)
BookPeople
IndieBound
Amazon

Who would have thought that microbes could be so alluring? Non-fiction but super easy to read, and very engaging for kiddos. I even learned a thing or two reading this one!


We Forgot Brock!
Carter Goodrich
BookPeople
IndieBound
Amazon 

Thanks for the recommendation, writing peeps! Carter Goodrich writes the Zorro series, which is also fun, but this is very cute, and about imaginary friends Brock and Princess Sparkle Dust. 


Sophie's Squash
Pat Zietlow Miller (Author), Anne Wilsdorf (Illustrator)
BookPeople
IndieBound
Amazon

VERY kid-centric, this story follows Sophie and her (fleeting) friendship with a squash she names Bernice. And...you can pre-order Sophie's Squash Goes to School for more squash-tastic fun. It comes out in June.

 
The Snatchabook
Helen Docherty (Author), Thomas Docherty (Illustrator)
BookPeople
IndieBound
Amazon

Who is stealing all of the books in Burrow Down? Eliza Brown is on the case! A sweet reminder about how much good reading and books can do. 


The Iridescence of Birds: A Book About Henri Matisse
Patricia MacLachlan (Author), Hadley Hooper (Illustrator)
BookPeople
IndieBound
Amazon

"If you were a boy named Henri Matisse who lived in a dreary town in Northern France where the skies were gray..."
So begins the story of Henri Matisse's childhood, which imparts quite a few facts about the author (and his beautiful mother) without feeling at all didactic or non-fiction-y! Patricia MacLachlan also has a new book coming out in June, with illustrator Tomie dePaola, The Moon's Almost Here. It's available for pre-order!


Let me know if you've read any of these, or if there are some other recent books that you adore that might not be so well known!

Friday, May 6, 2016

The Well Read Guess (Week 8)

Each week I'll post quotes from 2 picture books - a new(er) picture book and a classic picture book. Be the first to identify a quote (by the following Tuesday at noon), and earn an entry into the current monthly giveaway! Identify both the book and the author for a quote, and you'll get two entries. Identify both for both quotes, get four entries.

Want a shot every week? Sign up to follow me to be alerted to new posts via email on the sidebar!

Quote #1 (Brand-Spankin'-New-Book): The Storm by Akiko Miyakoshi

"I wonder how fast the wind blows. I wish I had a ship with big propellers that would spin stronger winds to drive the storm away."

Quote #2 (Modern Classic Book): The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson
"On went the mouse through the deep dark wood. An owl saw the mouse and the mouse looked good."

Quote #3 (AN EXTRA! Beautiful Non-Fiction): Tiny Creatures: The World of Microbes by Nicola Davies
"They are the invisible transformers of our world - the tiniest lives doing some of the biggest jobs."

Quote #4 (An extra, extra! And not a quote! Ha!): Flora and the Peacocks by Molly Idle












Monthly Giveaway: Middle Grade Prize Pack!

The winner of this month's giveaway will receive a Middle Grade Prize Pack, including Bridge to Terabithia, Pippi Longstocking, James and the Giant Peach, and Holes!
 
Stumped? Check out Facebook and Twitter for clues.

Good luck and happy reading!

Rules Governing Sweepstakes



Wednesday, May 4, 2016

This Month's Giveaway (It's a Prize PACK, yo!)

Since starting Pickle Corn Jam less than three months ago, I've reviewed 8 new books, created 7 new Well Read Guess challenges (showcasing 15 books, new one FRIDAY!), highlighted over 100 Austin-area story times and 10+ kid's literary theater events, celebrated the birthdays of Dr. Seuss and Beverly Cleary (as well as Read Across America, National Bookmobile Day and National Library Week), written twelve original poems/short stories based on 3 words submitted by readers, hosted a donation drive for BookSpring and (potentially most excitingly) had FIVE giveaways (plus a Facebook-only runner up giveaway)!

Prizes Awarded to date include Bears Make the Best Reading Buddies by Carmen Oliver, a $25 BookPeople Gift Card, Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon (Facebook only giveaway!), Wild About Books by Judy Sierra, Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary and a Reader's Choice Book (of ANY previously reviewed/quoted book)!

And I've got another giveaway announcement! 

This month's giveaway is a Middle Grade Prize Pack, featuring Bridge to Terabithia, Pippi Longstocking, James and the Giant Peach and Holes! To enter: 

Submit a correct guess to any Well Read Guess between now and the contest end date (5/27/16, Midnight, CDT)
OR
Submit a new 3 Word Challenge (use the contact form in the sidebar)
OR
Share your favorite post on Facebook (**and leave a comment ON THIS POST that you have done so)
OR
Subscribe to the blog via email (see sidebar - subscribers are automatically entered into EVERY giveaway)
OR
Leave a comment ON THIS POST telling me why I am your favorite blogger. Just kidding...I'm not THAT conceited. I can be in your top 5. 


You can (and SHOULD!) earn multiple entries! Don't forget to check out Facebook and Twitter for hints and announcements! Good luck!


Sweepstakes entry and prize award is subject to Sweepstakes Rules and Regulations found here.