Monday, June 25, 2012

Summer Fun!

School's out and summer is officially here!  Does that make you think of roller coasters, the beach, camping, and baseball?  You're not alone.  Here are my picks with a summer-theme.  (Note: My blog will be on-again-off-again this summer due to some of the summer activities mentioned below!  Also, Perfect Picture Book Friday is on holiday until the fall.)  Let's get our feet wet!

Roller Coaster by Marla Frazee - This account of a classic summer pastime, by one of my favorite author/illustrators, is simple and brilliant.  Each pair of roller coaster riders has a story to tell and such personality!  Her illustrations are full of action and speed.  I love how she uses only illustrations to draw the reader into each character.  We make assumptions, change our opinions as we read their facial expressions along the ride, and redefine their personalities by the end.  A masterpiece!

Wave by Suzy Lee - This exquisite wordless picture book captures the playfulness of a day at the beach as a girl befriends a wave. Perfect for storytelling and inferring emotions.

Come On, Rain! by Karen Hesse, pictures by Jon J. Muth - One of the most lyrical picture books I know, Come On, Rain! depicts the city, heat, and craving for rain that a long, hot summer can bring.  With phrases like "Up and down the block, cats pant, heat wavers off tar patches in the broiling alleyway" you can't help but be transported to that parched landscape.  And then, "The first drops plop down big, making dust dance all around us."  From listlessness, to hopeful anticipation, then a joyful rain dance, this book leaves you feeling refreshed.

Toasting Marshmallows: Camping Poems by Kristine O'Connell George, Illustrated by Kate Kiesler - From putting up the tent, to seeing wildlife, and toasting marshmallows, camping is ripe for stories and poetry.  O'Connell George uses a variety of poetic forms, including concrete, haiku, and two-voice, as well as a rich mix of poetic devices such as metaphor, onomatopoeia, and rhyme.  If you have ever gone camping, you will find the words for your experience in this book.

Fireflies! by Julie Brinckloe - Brinckloe captures the fascination for fireflies that we feel as children and the summertime thrill of capturing "moonlight" in a jar. 

Canoe Days by Gary Paulsen, Illustrated by Ruth Wright Paulsen - Peace. Stillness. Quiet. Nature observation at its best.  Paulsen's poetic language draws the reader onto the serene lake with him and his canoe.  My favorite line?  "The water is a window into the skylake."  The illustration perfectly captures the mirror image of the lake's edge in the glassy water.

Just Like Josh Gibson by Angela Johnson, Illustrated by Beth Peck - A girl in the 1940s didn't play baseball.  But, as Grandmama retells it, she wanted to be just like Josh Gibson, the "Babe Ruth of the Negro Leagues."  I love this story because of its layers: baseball summers, the history of the Negro Leagues, and the social role that girls were expected to fill.

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