Show Me Happy by Kathryn Madeline Allen

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SHOW ME HAPPY
Written by Kathryn Madeline Allen
Photographs by Eric Futran
(Albert Whitman & Company; $15.99, Ages 3-7)

ShowMeHappycvr

From the team that brought you A Kiss Means I Love You comes their latest, Show Me Happy. This photograph-rich, 24-page picture book with kids populating every page is the perfect introduction for little ones still learning “how to use their words.” Kids are picking up important early concepts and experiencing a range of emotions long before they have the language to express them so, by sharing books like Show Me Happy, we can help youngsters learn to communicate effectively.

Show Me Happy is actually more than just a book depicting emotions. With easy to interpret images that demonstrate actions such as a mom helping her son with measuring while cooking up a tasty treat (show me helping), an older boy handing a ball to a younger girl (show me giving), a little girl cutting the lawn with a toy mower (show me pushing), a boy cupping his mouth and yelling (show me NOISY), it’s a fun read-aloud with some subtle rhyme:

Show me pushing,
show me pulling,
show me sharing when we play.

Show me NOISY,
show me quiet,
show me putting things away.

This cheerful picture book would also be ideal to read with special needs children. Many kids on the Autism Spectrum, for example, may have difficulty identifying how they are feeling or what’s appropriate behavior in a certain situation. Furtran’s warm and inviting photos and Allen’s simple, upbeat text are both appealing and engaging. It sometimes feels as if the kids in the photos are smiling right at me! Books like Show Me Happy that are accessible to everyone, provide photographic examples that children can relate to making this picture book one your kids will certainly enjoy and one you’ll be happy to have on hand.

  • Reviewed by Ronna Mandel

A New Look For Good Reads With Ronna

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WE’VE CHANGED OUR LOOK!
KEEP CHECKING US OUT DURING CONSTRUCTION BECAUSE
THERE’S LOTS GOING ON.

Under Construction, but still blogging!

Under Construction, but still blogging!

We’re almost done cleaning up our site. It was truly a case of out with the old and in with the new, and long overdue! Thanks so much for your patience during our blog remodel. Please let us know what you think about our updated look.

The current blog tour is for Super Schnoz and the Gates of Smell along with an author signed book giveaway. Enter by clicking here now for your chance to win because that great opportunity ends this weekend.

Our next blog tour in conjunction with Peachtree Publishers begins on Friday, October 4th, so watch this space for more details about the surprise book review and giveaway. But in case you can’t wait, here’s a little preview:

Some other stops on the Peachtree Publishers Blog Tour & a chance to win a copy of the book!

Visit Blue Owl Reviews today to get a taste of what’s to come.

On Tuesday, check out Gidgets Bookworms and Maestra Amanda’s Bookshelf

Wednesday stop by the Peachtree blog for the giveaway contest!

Thursday’s the blog tour is on Kid Lit Reviews

and Friday it’s here at last: Good Reads with Ronna.


Powerful Words from a Powerful Voice

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NOTE: This review was originally posted on Jan. 17, 2012, but we felt it was fitting to repost to mark the 50th anniversary of MLK’s March on Washington.

Happy Birthday, Martin Luther King, Jr.

On this special day in America, we take the time to think about the forward-thinking, visionary leader, Martin Luther King, Jr. His courage and wisdom are even more inspiring as time passes. That’s why I was thrilled to read My Uncle Martin’s Words for America ($19.95, Abrams Books, ages 5+). The author, Angelina Farris Watkins, PhD, is the niece of Martin Luther King, Jr.  (She is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Spelman College in Atlanta, GA.)

My Uncle Martin’s Words for America is a wonderful summary of the highlights of this extraordinary leader’s journey to promote justice, freedom and equality for all Americans. Young readers are introduced to segregation, Jim Crow laws, King’s incarceration, protests, speeches and the events the led up to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In the back of the book you’ll find an excellent chart summarizing the protests MLK led, matched with the resulting changes in civil rights. There’s also a helpful glossary. I respect the fact that this book does not focus on the assassination, but rather on his philosophies and accomplishments.

I have read and reviewed countless children’s picture books, and only a few of them really stand out as momentous as far as the quality of the illustrations; this book is indeed one of them. To simply say that the Coretta Scott King award-winning illustrator, Eric Velasquez, is extremely talented is just not enough. Not often does one come across illustrations so realistic, vibrant and beautiful as these. He paints with oils on watercolor paper, and it is a glorious combination. Just take a look at the jacket cover – front and back – and you’ll have no choice but to open this book and take it all in. It’s obvious that Eric Velasquez has a calling in life, and he answers that call each every time he paints a picture. Oh how I’d love to have one of his paintings on my wall at home!

Once you read this book, I think you’ll agree that it should be on the bookshelf in every elementary school classroom in America. (There’s a second title, too, Uncle Martin’s Big Heart, written and illustrated by the same author and artist as this book.)

Read my interview with illustrator Eric Velasquez.

This book is reviewed by Debbie Glade.

P.S. As I wrote this review, there was a woman on my local news station at an MLK parade in Miami being interviewed about this holiday. She said, “What Martin Luther King, Jr. did was not just for black people, but for all people.” I could not have summed up his achievements any better than that.


Lucy Cousins’ Latest: PECK, PECK, PECK

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In Peck, Peck, Peck no holes are barred!

PECK, PECK, PECK (Candlewick Press, $15.99, ages  2-5 ) by Lucy Cousins, best known for her super popular and successful Maisy series, has written and illustrated an adorable picture you should get, get, get! My 12-year-old son picked it up (it’s hard not to be attracted to the bright yellow cover with actual die-cut holes) and, after reading it, announced, “Very cute! Kids’ll love this.”

Lucy Cousins' Peck, Peck, Peck

This 32-page hardcover book, with its bold graphics and signature bright Cousins’ colors, is so much fun and it’s easy to see how much time was devoted to getting the locations of the holes on every page just right so as not to ruin the next page. The rhyme is simple and catchy that little kids will certainly want to chime in. To start, the little red-headed woodpecker says,

“Today my daddy
Said to me,
“‘It’s time you learned
to peck a tree.'”

And so the pecking begins … first a tree, (with kudos from Dad for a hole superbly pecked) … then onto a fence, a big blue door then into the house for more pecking galore.  The humor is not lost when the little woodpecker practices his newfound skills on an armchair, a teddy bear, and a book called Jane Eyre!! The variety of items that receive holes is hysterical. Nothing seems to have escaped the bird’s beak.

Besides all the rhymes, children will thoroughly enjoy the tons of holes everywhere that they can poke while having one last silly fest before settling down for bed.  Even the story’s little birdie is beat and decides to return to his nest.  Thank goodness that when Daddy plants some goodnight kisses on his little bird’s head, only lots of love and pride, but no holes, accompany them!

– Reviewed by Ronna Mandel


The King of Little Things by Bil Lepp

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THE KING OF LITTLE THINGS

(Peachtree, $16.95, ages 4-8)

Not Your Mother’s Monarch

by Bil Lepp with illustrations by David T. Wenzel

by Bil Lepp
with illustrations by
David T. Wenzel

At first glance I thought that, with its fancy gold lettering, this was a holiday book. But it’s even better. It’s a picture book page turner! Yep, and for good reason. Author Bil Lepp and illustrator David T. Wenzel have created a book for all seasons that is certain to appeal to a lot of kids with its strong story and superb artwork.

Lepp has woven a tale so engaging that children may even read the story so quickly to discover the ending that they miss Wenzel’s wonderful illustrations. Not to worry. This is a book well worth going back over again and again, first to carefully study and enjoy each picture’s small details then again to look out for items readers are asked to seek out at the book’s end. What a terrific idea making this an inviting interactive experience for both parents and kids.

Have you ever read this African proverb below? It’s just a hint of what this new children’s book is all about:

If you think you’re too small to make a difference, you haven’t spent a night with a mosquito.

The King of Little Things is not your mother’s monarch. In his realm he reigns over candle holders, corks and sleeping dogs; lanterns, lizards, wheels and cogs. How many kings find joy in the simple pleasure of admiring a butterfly’s wing? This royal majesty much prefers peanuts or a pocket watch to the riches most kings desire. He does not long for conquering the world. Instead he chooses to cherish life’s tiniest treasures along with “a cozy house and a loving queen.”

But alas, in a distant kingdom lives King Normous, a power hungry hulk of a person determined to conquer all kingdoms big and small. Imagine the King of Little Things finding out the greedy galloping Goliath (better known as King Normous) is on his way to rid the world of all things little, the foremost being The King of Little Things himself! Well our hero has a plan to stop the evil enemy with an entitlement complex and it’s not just clever, it’s downright fantastic. But I don’t want to spoil the ending. Suffice it to say that the world’s littlest things who “loved their king,” do whatever it takes to save him from being annihilated by this monster of a sovereign. There’s alliteration and rhyming galore mixed with humor and some important lessons to take away from this top notch tale.

– Reviewed by Ronna Mandel

Check out these other great sites for more reviews on this blog tour!

 

Follow Your Heart

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DorothyI’m so glad I recently broadened my book review horizons to include titles by Spanish publisher, Cuento de Luz, as I have enjoyed each and every title I’ve read so far. This publisher’s books deliver powerful messages in delightfully subtle ways.

Dorothy: A Different Kind of Friend ($16.95, Cuento de Luz, Ages 5-7) by Roberto Aliaga presents readers with a story about an unidentifiable furry animal girl who befriends a not-so-popular girl in town, named Dorothy. Dorothy is big, clumsy and very different than the others. The bully girls in town all hang out together and tease the protagonist when she hangs out with Dorothy, saying very cruel and hurtful things about her. Will those harsh words be enough to make the protagonist drop Dorothy as a friend? Read the book and you will find out for yourself.

There are so many children’s books about being bullied that it is impossible to keep up with all of them. But what sets this book apart is that the characters are unique and the message is delivered in muted tones, leaving the reader with a lot to think about. The illustrations by Mar Blanco are both colorful and adorable, highlighting the uniqueness of the characters. In the end, we must all follow our hearts, no matter what others tell us to do, and Dorothy: A Different Kind of Friend shows us the way.

– Reviewed by Debbie Glade


Brave and Mighty Little Chick

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tlc tour hostChick-o-Saurus-RexGood Reads With Ronna is excited to be part of the Chick-O-Saurus Rex  (Simon & Schuster, $16.99, ages 4-8) blog tour. This new picture book is a collaboration by husband and wife team Lenore and Daniel Jennewein.

If you saw a tree house you’d want to go in, wouldn’t you? Well so did Little Chick. The only problem was the bullies, Little Donkey, Little Pig and Little Sheep, keeping him out. They announced, “This is a club for the brave and mighty. First you have to prove you belong.” Not exactly a warm and welcoming requirement to place on poultry.

Chick-O-Saurus RexBut Little Chick was up for the challenge despite the mean behavior of the taunting trio. While other chickens might have been discouraged, Little Chick persevered. He wondered if somewhere in his family tree there might be proof of a brave and mighty chicken and posed this question to Father Rooster. Together they perused a family album for hints of bravery and might in their lineage.

When a photo shows Grandpa Rooster unearthing an ancestor’s fossil (yes, fossil), Little Chick is eager to pursue this clue. Could our Little Chick be a descendant of dinos? Several weeks pass before a Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton is dug up proving Little Chick’s mighty heritage. He takes off for the tree house to share his discovery, but finds the bullies being preyed upon by a hungry wolf. With a scary battle-cry of “Cock-A-Doodle-Dooo!,” and a frightening fossil clutched in his fist, Little Chick chases the wolf away, is proclaimed a hero and permanently changes the bullies’ opinion of one so small.

Lenore and Daniel Jennewein

Lenore and Daniel Jennewein

This winning book is infused with subtle humor (perhaps adults will have to explain the chicken-dance craze reference to youngsters, but the picture of Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandpa crossing the road should be easier to catch) and adorable illustrations that make it mighty good human entertainment.

– Reviewed by Ronna Mandel