Green Eggs & Ham – The TV Show

Green Eggs and Ham

Netflix has announced that it will be turning Dr. Seuss’ beloved book Green Eggs and Ham into a 13-episode TV series. The adaptation will be written by Jared Stern who also wrote Wreck-It-Ralph and is working on the upcoming Lego Movie sequel.

Executive Producers include Stern, Ellen DeGeneres, Jeff Kleeman, Mike Karz, and David Dobkin. The project will be distributed by Warner Bros. TV.

It is expected to be released in 2018 and is said to be “the highest-end, most expensive animated program ever produced for television.”

Review: I Don’t Like Koala by Sean Ferrell

I Don't Like Koala by Sean Ferrell

I Don’t Like Koala by Sean Ferrell, illustrated by Charles Santoso

When Adam opens his gift and discovers Koala inside, he is not pleased. After all, Koala is “the most terrible terrible.” He has bright yellow eyes that follow Adam around the room. So Adam decides that he must get rid of Koala, but it’s not that easy. Every night Adam puts Koala away in different places all over the house and happily goes to be alone. But when he wakes up, Koala is right there on his pillow, every morning. His parents think that he loves Koala, even though Adam tells them that he hates Koala. Then comes the day that Koala seems to have eaten Adams snack! So Adam hikes up into the forest and leaves Koala there. But Koala is waiting for him at home when he returns. One night though, frightening things loom in the dark and Koala is right there to protect Adam and make him feel safe. But someone else might just be being freaked out by Koala too.

Ferrell captures the creepiness and the appeal of strange stuffed animals. He creates a horror vibe that is just right for young readers with the way that Koala appears in bed in the morning and can’t be left behind anywhere. It’s a funny riff on scary movies, something that some special stuffed animals can evoke with ease. The parents don’t understand or step in to protect their son in the story at all, adding to that eerie feeling throughout that makes the book such fun.

Santoso creates the ultimate creepy stuffed animal in Koala, a strange beast who readers will also grow to love as the book progresses. The expressions on Adam’s face are priceless as he tries to explain why he hates Koala so very much and when he discovers Koala’s return again and again. The use of dark colors for both Koala and Adam unite them as a pair in the book even as Adam struggles to be separate. Santoso’s illustrations continue the dark eerie feel of the story.

An exceptionally dark picture book, this book is great fun and reads aloud well. Share it with children ready for a little fright with their stuffed animals. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Atheneum Books for Young Readers.

Review: Sidewalk Flowers by JonArno Lawson

sidewalk flowers

Sidewalk Flowers by JoArno Lawson, illustrated by Sydney Smith

As she heads home with her father who is distracted by his cell phone call, a little girl dressed in vibrant red picks wild flowers. Along the way, she takes a moment to smell each of them, creating a bouquet of bright colored blooms. The flowers grow unnoticed by the others on the street in this urban setting, but the little girl spots them all growing out of sidewalk cracks. When the girl and her father reach the park, she notices a dead bird on the sidewalk and leaves some of the flowers there with the bird. A man sleeping on a park bench is given a sprig too. Then she decorates the collar of a friendly dog with more flowers. As they reach home, the little girl gives each of her family members flowers, leaving a trail of them on their hair and heads. The final flower is used to decorate her own hair at the very end.

This wordless picture book is immensely lovely. The story arc really works well and has moments of sophistication that create a vibrant urban world for this girl to live within. As she gathers the flowers, other beautiful parts of the city that would have been overlooked too light up with color or are captured in small moments. From the display of bright fruits in the market to the pigeons on the street, each small piece adds together so that readers “see” the beauty of the city along with the young protagonist.

The art is expressive and lovely. The city is shown in black and white against which the red girl pops like a bright ruby. Portions of the city are done in color, like flowered dresses and the small flowers that the girl gathers too. Then when the girl starts sharing her flowers, the entire world becomes colorful and bright. It is a dynamic shift in the middle of the book, showing the power of generosity and community.

Subtle and powerful, this picture book celebrates seeing the beauty in everyday life and sharing it with others. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson

lumberjanes

Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, and illustrated by Brooke Allen

The Lumberjane scout camp is for “hardcore lady types” who celebrate “Friendship to the max!” Five friends are spending their summer together here and they are in for unexpected adventures as they earn their badges. When they head out to get their nighttime badge, they encounter the first of the supernatural monsters, a pack of three-eyed wolves. Luckily the friends, Jo, April, Mal, Molly and Ripley, are also elite fighters so they manage to defeat the wolves. Back at camp, their counselor marches them to the office for discipline, but the head of the camp seems more intrigued than surprised by their find. As the summer progresses, the girls face hipster yetis, polite boy campers with a dark side, stone statues that come to life, and plenty of traps. Summer camp has never been this full of wild creatures and epic battles, all done by a group of amazing girls.

I first heard about how wonderful this comic book was when it was not yet a graphic novel, and I am so thrilled that the first four comics have been turned into this novel that is perfect for libraries. I had high expectations for this comic and was still dazzled by it and rather twitchy to get my hands on the next one. The characters are phenomenally well done, each girl having her own distinct personality and style. Add in the delight of finding a budding lesbian love story and it’s pure magic. I love kick-ass heroines, and this series has FIVE to fall for.

The art is well done too with its own vibe. It has the friendly feel of a Telgemeier combined with more edge that make the battle scenes really work. There is plenty of action and humor to make the book race along. I love the addition of extra art at the end done in a variety of styles. It invites fans of the characters to draw them and create their own stories about these great girls.

This is a graphic novel to devour in one sitting and immediately turn to the beginning and start again. Pure girl-power perfection. Appropriate for ages 12-16.

Reviewed from library copy.

2015 CLPE Poetry Award Shortlist

The shortlist for the 2015 CLiPPA has been announced. The UK award is given by the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education. It is the only book award that celebrates poetry for children specifically. The award winner will be announced in July. Here is the shortlist:

Picture CET cover

Blue Balloons and Rabbit Ears by Hilda Offen

Give the Ball to the Poet: A New Anthology of Caribbean Poetry edited by Georgie Horrell, Aisha Spencer and Morag Styles

DownloadedFile My Life as a Goldfish Werewolf Club Rules

Let in the Stars edited by Mandy Coe

My Life as a Goldfish and Other Poems by Rachel Rooney, illustrated by Ellie Jenkins

Werewolf Club Rules by Joseph Coelho

Review: P. Zonka Lays an Egg by Julie Paschkis

p zonka lays an egg

P. Zonka Lays an Egg by Julie Paschkis

P. Zonka isn’t like the other chickens on the farm. The other chickens lay eggs each and every day, but P. Zonka never lays a single egg. She’s busy walking around the farm noticing nature and the beauty of flowers and moss. The other hens call her lazy, but she doesn’t pay them any mind. Finally, after they cluck at her for a long time, P. Zonka agrees to try laying an egg. After clucking and delays, she lays an egg that isn’t anything like the brown and white eggs the other hens lay. P. Zonka’s egg is spectacular and shows in colors and design all of the beautiful things she has been seeing in nature. P. Zonka’s eggs are art, pure and simple.

Paschkis takes her inspiration from Ukrainian eggs designed with bright colors and intricate designs. A Ukrainian decorated egg is called a pysanka, giving P. Zonka her unique name. The story is written with the rhythm and structure of a traditional folktale. The complaining hens and rooster create the chorus of the book, the repetitive feature. This more formal structure contrasts wonderfully with P. Zonka’s daydreaming and wandering. Those parts of the book are filled with her descriptive words and the pacing shifts and changes.

Paschkis carries her Ukrainian inspiration directly into the art in the book, filling it with the colors and shapes of traditional art. The bright yellows, deep reds, clear blues and crisp greens echo the traditional art as do the sweeping lines and free flowing plants. Yet this is distinctly modern too with the lines having a looser feel and the animals feeling more life like.

This book is a winning blend of traditional and modern, folktale and new story. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: Ballet Cat: The Totally Secret Secret by Bob Shea

ballet cat

Ballet Cat: The Totally Secret Secret by Bob Shea

Released May 5, 2015.

Ballet Cat and Sparkles the Pony want to play together, but first they have to decide what to play. Sparkles has lots of ideas, like doing crafts, playing checkers and selling lemonade, but none of them work when Ballet Cat wants to be able to spin and leap and twirl. Very reluctantly, Sparkles offers to play ballet with her instead and Ballet Cat jumps at the opportunity. Sparkles though is not having a very good time. When Ballet Cat asks him what is wrong, Sparkles doesn’t want to say in case she won’t be friends with him any longer. Ballet Cat though has her own secret that she doesn’t want to tell Sparkles either. It will take one very brave pair of friends to share these secrets.

Shea has created a new series for beginning readers that is sure to appeal. Ballet Cat and Sparkles fill the page with humor that is broad but also wry and clever. It’s the perfect mix for young children navigating their own friendships. The best parts are when the characters are at odds with one another and when they state the obvious. It’s writing that reads as if small children were saying it without ever putting them down.

The art is pure Shea, dynamic and colorful. It is filled with action and activity and emotions too. Shea excels at showing emotions on his characters that are done strongly enough that small children will be able to understand immediately how a character is feeling. Sparkles in particular emotes clearly on the page, his body language and expressions showing exactly how he feels.

A strong new beginning reader series about friendship that is perfect for Elephant and Piggie fans. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from digital galley received from Disney-Hyperion and Netgalley.

Reading = Brain Activity

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A new study of 19 preschoolers ages 3-5 years old studied brain activity while the children listened to stories. Done with functional magnetic resonance imaging, the study focused only on listening to stories, no visual stimuli were involved.

Results showed that more reading at home was “strongly associated with activation of specific brain areas supporting semantic processing (the extraction of meaning from language). These areas are critical for oral language and later for reading.”

Areas associated with mental imagery also showed a strong activation, meaning that children were able to “see the story” and watch their imaginations make images.

Review: Dear Hank Williams by Kimberly Willis Holt

dear hank williams

Dear Hank Williams by Kimberly Willis Holt

Tate’s class has been told that they are doing a pen pal project and they can either be assigned pen pals or pick them. Tate has just the right person to write to, Hank Williams, who is an emerging star in 1948. Tate tells him all about her life in Rippling Creek, Louisiana where she lives with her Uncle Jolly, Aunt Patty Cake and her little brother Frog. At first, Tate tells Hank Williams that her parents are well known and gone because of their work, her father as a photographer and her mother in the movies. But as she continues to write to them, she reveals the truth of her family life where her father has disappeared and her mother is doing time in jail. There is one final secret that Tate can’t face at all and it will take all of her courage to admit to it.

Holt writes a story of a girl who has concocted a life of dreams for herself. Tate is unfailingly positive about many things. Even when she talks about her mother being in prison, she focuses on the fact that her mother is in an elite singing group while there. Her life with her uncle and aunt is stable and lovely, filled with small moments that demonstrate their love for her, like finding a way to hear her mother sing on the radio and discovering just the right dog at just the right time.  Holt gives Tate all the time she needs to face her different truths. And the result is surprising and tender.

Tate is a marvelous character. She is quickly proven untrustworthy as she admits early in the novel to lying about her mother and father. Yet there is something so down-to-earth about her too that readers will somehow trust her despite all of this. Perhaps it is the details of her life that make that work, and the way that she hides truths even from herself. It is a delicate balance and one that Holt does very well.

Young readers will love this book for its heart and the beautiful spark of its main character. Appropriate for ages 8-11.

Reviewed from copy received from Henry Holt and Co.