Saturday, March 30, 2013

Friday, March 29, 2013

PPBF: Monty and Milli: The Totally Amazing Magic Trick

Share your favorite picture book about friendship during the month of March. I hope you'll join the discussion!

Title:  Monty and Milli: The Totally Amazing Magic Trick
Author/Illustrator:Tracey Corderoy/Tim Warnes
Publisher/Date: Good Books/2012
Genre/Audience: Fiction/Ages 4+
Themes: siblings, magic

"Everything Monty did... Milli did, too."

Synopsis: (From book jacket)
"When Milli tried to help Monty with his best magic tricks, Monty wished his little sister would turn into a warty toad - until he thought she actually did."

Why I Love This Book
With simple text and engaging pictures, a story of sibling dynamics plays out in the context of learning magic. Monty is the older brother. He gets tired of Milli copying him all the time. When he gets a magic set, he is thrilled to have something to do by himself. But he realizes he misses Milli after a while. Families everywhere will relate to this sweet story of sibling rivalry and resolution.

The History of Abra Cadabra

For more links to Perfect Picture Books, a collection of bloggers who contribute at Susanna Leonard Hill’s site, click here.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Goldilocks - Post 2 of 2

Here are my favorite Goldilocks books...continued!

Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs (Mo Willems) - This book is all about reading between the lines and the text is ripe for teaching a child how to infer meaning. I love how Willems pokes fun at the inconsistencies in the original tale (Did you ever wonder how the porridge could be too hot and too cold?) and exaggerates the absurdity of Goldilocks entering a strangers' house. Even the end papers of the book are witty and worth some time. Fill in blank: Goldilocks and the Three ______. Your idea is probably X'd out in red!

Goldilocks and the Three Bears (Caralyn Buehner and Mark Buehner) - Goldilocks skips into this story with her jump rope and keeps her naughty behavior bouncing along with rhyming couplets. An updated, yet traditional, retelling.

Goldie Socks and the Three Libearians (Jackie Mims Hopkins; John Manders) - I have to share the opening: "Once upon a time... nestled deep in an enchanted forest, there lived a book lovin' bear family.  Papa bear was a public libearian, Mamma bear was a school libearian, and their son, Baby bear, was a libearian in training at the Grizz Lee Preschool." I was hooked! Not only is this a bibliophilic Goldilocks, but this book is chock full of language arts lessons (just right books, five-finger rule). A fun and unique twist on the original, especially for elementary classrooms!

Somebody and the Three Blairs (Marilyn Tolhurst; Simone Abel) - Published in 1990, this version of Goldilocks turns the story on its head. "Somebody" is a bear and the "Three Blairs" are a human family. The storyline is full of typical toddler messes and misunderstandings (in addition to the usual escapades of eating, sitting, and sleeping). Children will love to "read" the illustrations to interpret additional meaning. My boys were especially tickled by, "This pond is too small", which shows the bear looking at the toilet. Of course, Baby Blair is thrilled with all the messes while his parents try to decide which emergency department to call. This is a fun, topsy-turvy read!

Goldie and the Three Hares (Margie Palatini; Jack E. Davis) - When running away from the three bears, Goldilocks fall down a rabbit hole and sprains her ankle. The Hare family grows more and more impatient with their rude and demanding patient.  Finally, Baby Hare ("also known as Bunny"), thinks of a way to get rid of Goldie once and for all! This look at what happens after Goldilocks' swift exit from the Bear's house is a rib-tickler!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Revision Week!

Let the mad scribbling with the red pen commence!

Read great tips on revision from published authors and enter to win a manuscript edit!

Here's the intro to today's post:

Dear Readers…’s Revision Week kicks off with Larry Dane Brimner, the award-winning author of more than 150 books for readers of all ages. His nonfiction books for children and young adults include Birmingham Sunday, an Orbis Pictus Honor Book for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children, and We Are One: The Story of Bayard Rustin, a Norman A. Sugarman Children’s Biography Award winner.
Please join Larry and The Editor for Day 1 of Revision Week, and find out how to win today’s “Free Partial Edit” from The Editor.

Friday, March 22, 2013

In Lieu of PPBF

It is Friday and I usually post a Perfect Picture Book, linking to Susanna Leonard Hill's blog. But this week, she is hosting a writing contest with a Spring theme. I entered my story The Maple Sugar Man.

While it didn't make it into the finals, the other stories that did are definitely worth reading. And you can VOTE for your favorite! Voting is open until Saturday night.

In other news, there is still time to share your favorite picture book with a FRIENDSHIP theme. Head over the the Kid Lit Book Club with your special read. See you there!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Goldilocks - Post 1 of 2

My boys are fascinated with Goldilocks. As you know from my recent posts, we've been reading a lot of fractured fairy tales lately and I don't see that ebbing anytime soon. But, for some reason, Goldilocks has captured their imaginations more than the rest. What is so alluring about Goldilocks? Is it because she's a naughty, rule-breaker? Is it that this story has bears instead of a wolf? Perhaps it is because the bears don't seem as menacing as the wolf (Three Little Pigs, Little Red Riding Hood) or the troll (Three Billy Goats Gruff).

I have to admit, the original Goldilocks is not my favorite. I don't particularly like the way she gets off scot-free. That is why my favorite version of Goldilocks is the 2009 retelling by Ruth Sanderson.

It is true to the original tale, but, in my opinion, it has a more satisfying ending. Goldilocks has to make amends for her actions and there is even a blueberry muffin recipe to extend the story to your kitchen.

Of course, there are many variations on Goldilocks. So many, in fact, that this is post 1 of 2! Here are some that have quickly become "read again" favorites.

Goldilocks and Just One Bear (Leigh Hodgkinson) - How's this for an opening? "Once upon a time, there was this bear. One minute, he was strolling in the woods, all happy-go-lucky.... The next minute, he didn't have a crumb-of-a-clue where he was. He was one COMPLETELY lost bear." Written in a casual verbal style, a bear finds himself lost in a city (look for various fairy tale nods within the illustrations). This funny version of Goldilocks is full of misunderstood silliness and a unique twist that ties it back to the original story.

The Three Snow Bears (Jan Brett) - Jan Brett's unique illustrations wordlessly tell the snow bears' story alongside Aloo-ki's, an Inuit Goldilocks. Aloo-ki loses her dogsled and ventures inside the bears' igloo. There she tries their breakfast, their boots, and their beds. Although Aloo-ki is startled by their return, their farewell is amicable. Visit Jan Brett's website for a rich educational resource.

Goldilocks and the Three Martians (Stu Smith; Michael Garland) - In this rollicking rhyme, Goldilocks is determined to find a planet that is "just right." She circles the solar system, finding fault with all the planets until she comes to Mars. Only she is in for more than she bargained for! Will Earth be "just right" after all?

Rubia and the Three Osos (Susan Middleton Elya; Melissa Sweet) - Told in rhyming couplets, this clever version of Goldilocks is told in a combination of Spanish and English. The Spanish words are in bold, purple font and translation is helped by the context and illustrations. In true Goldilocks fashion, Rubia runs away when discovered by the bears. But then she does something a bit unexpected. She says, "Lo siento." A glossary of Spanish phrases is included at the end.

Dusty Locks and The Three Bears (Susan Lowell; Randy Cecil) - This is a Western Goldilocks, told with beans instead of porridge, and a dirty, ill-mannered little girl who ran away from home. Carefully chosen language highlights the Western theme and plenty of colorful similes and metaphors make this story come alive.

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Maple Sugar Man - Contest Entry

If you've been reading my blog lately, you'll know I'm on a fractured fairy tales kick. So what did I write when challenged by Susanna Leonard Hill's Spring story contest? You guessed it. 

Here is my version of "The Gingerbread Man", set in a sugarbush (a stand of maple trees tapped for their sap) in my native Vermont. As a child, I absolutely knew spring was here when we got to go to the sugarhouse and taste the fresh maple syrup. There is just nothing like that flavor! Welcome Spring!

The Maple Sugar Man
by Laura Renauld
(347 words)

While the sap boiled, a maple sugarmaker molded a little man out of maple sugar. He put it in the cupboard to set. But when the sugarmaker opened the cupboard to get his sweet treat, the maple sugar man jumped up and cried, “You won’t eat me for dessert!” And he ran out the door. The sugarmaker gave chase.

“You can’t catch me. I’m the maple sugar man!” he called back as he ran through the sugarbush. Soon, a squirrel saw him.

“A sweet treat!” said the squirrel. But the maple sugar man was too fast. “Nuts,” grumbled the squirrel.

“You can’t catch me. I’m the maple sugar man!” The little man ran out of the forest and into a field.

A hawk swooped down. “You’re a sweet treat to eat!” But the maple sugar man jumped into a thorn bush just in time. “Rats,” muttered the hawk.

“You can’t catch me. I’m the maple sugar man!” he shouted and he took off running again. As he zoomed around an outcropping, there was the sugarmaker! He had taken a shortcut through the sugarbush.

“Wait!” cried the sugarmaker. “I promise not to eat you. I have a surprise for you at the sugarhouse. Climb on my boot.”

The maple sugar man was too curious to be careful, so he hopped on.

As the sugarmaker trudged through the sugarbush, the snow deepened. “Jump into my jacket pocket so you don’t get buried,” offered the sugarmaker. The maple sugar man did.

When they arrived at the sugarhouse, the sugarmaker said to the maple sugar man, “Climb onto my shoulder so you can see your surprise better.” The maple sugar man was excited. 

“Do you see that?” the sugarmaker asked, pointing. The maple sugar man leaned over.

“SURPRISE!” hollered the sugarmaker. The maple sugar man was so startled he fell into the vat of boiling sap. Satisfied, the sugarmaker took a maple sugar leaf out of his pocket. “From now on, I’m only using leaf-shaped candy molds!” As he bit into his sweet treat, the sugarmaker knew Spring was really here.

Don't worry! I won't be off of fractured fairy tales anytime soon. My boys and I are especially enamored with all the versions of Goldilocks at the moment. Come back next Wednesday for the first of two posts on that mischievous little girl (or in some cases, bear)!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Kid Lit Book Club: April Topic

April is National Poetry Month! In celebration, we'll be creating our own collection of children's poetry favorites. Is there a poem that you can still recite from your childhood? Do your kids LOVE a rhyming picture book? Is there a poetry collection you couldn't teach Language Arts without? Share your poems with the book club so we can enrich our reading time.

Topic #3: Poetry
Post between April 1, 2013 and April 30, 2013

1. Choose a poem, or collection of poems, for children (infant through young adult).
2. Share the title, author/illustrator, publication year, and the reason for your choice on the book club Google Groups page HERE.
3. Feel free to comment/discuss!

Friday, March 8, 2013

PPBF: Catching the Moon

Share your favorite picture book about friendship during the month of March. I hope you'll join the discussion!

Title: Catching the Moon
Author/IllustratorMyla Goldberg/ Chris Sheban
Publisher/Date: Arthur A. Levine Books: An Imprint of Scholastic Inc./2007
Genre/Audience: Fiction/Ages 4+
Themes: Fishing; Moon: Phases, Tides; Moon Myths: Moon is made of cheese, Man in the Moon; Friendship

"Hardly anyone noticed when the Fisherwoman started fishing at night."

Synopsis: (From book jacket)
"Every night, when the moon comes out, an old woman sits and fishes with rod, reel and ... a mouse? Whoever heard of such silliness? No one else would fish in the dark! But the Fisherwoman knows what she's doing, and everyone else will soon find out."

Why I Love This Book
This enchanting story looks and feels like a dream. A luminous guest befriends the Fisherwoman, visiting every month when there is no moon. A ritual of sharing tea begins and the woman starts receiving strange gifts. She finally shares her reason for fishing at night and her guest has a solution for her problem. I think I am a sucker for books about unusual and unexpected friendship. Combine that with lyrical language and you have me every time.

For more links to Perfect Picture Books, a collection of bloggers who contribute at Susanna Leonard Hill’s site, click here.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Cinderella's Global Appeal

Cinderella stories are found all over the world. Its universal themes of jealousy, inequality, and the ultimate triumph of the underdog, span countries and traditions. According to Paul Fleischman, the earliest Cinderella story is attributed to ninth-century China and more than a thousand versions exist. Rather than presenting fractured fairy tales this time, I chose these three Cinderella stories for their multicultural appeal. Teachers can use these books to link language arts and social studies units. Enjoy!

Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters: An African Tale by John Steptoe - This African Cinderella story mixes familiar fairy tale elements with the unique details from a Zimbabwean folktale. This is a story that highlights the importance of being beautiful on the inside. The king, who is looking for a wife, uses his magical abilities to discern the true-self of each of Mufaro's daughters.

Adelita: A Mexican Cinderella Story by Tomie dePaola - DePaola combines Mexican folk art with his signature style to create the illustrations for this Cinderella tale. My favorite elements are the presence of a nurse as Adelita's long-time companion and the change from a glass slipper to a shawl. There is a Spanish glossary of phrases at the end to aid in translation.

Glass Slipper, Gold Sandal: A Worldwide Cinderella by Paul Fleischman; Illustrated by Julie Paschkis - This captivating book is a woven tapestry of story elements from 17 Cinderella tales from around the world. From Appalachia to Indonesia, Fleischman highlights the variations in storyline, such as how Cinderella got her clothes for the ball: "Then she looked in her mother's sewing basket. (Laos) Then she reached into the hole in the birch tree. (Russia) Then a crocodile swam up to the surface-- and in its mouth was a sarong made of gold... (Indonesia) ... a cloak sewn of kingfisher feathers... (China) ... a kimono red as sunset. (Japan)" Each voice that is used in the text matches the culture: "'And scour all the kitchen pots, too!' she hollered." (Appalachia) This book is a fascinating glimpse into a very multicultural Cinderella.

Friday, March 1, 2013

PPBF: The Gold Miner's Daughter

Share your favorite picture book about friendship during the month of March. I'll hope you'll join the discussion!

Title: The Gold Miner's Daughter: A Melodramatic Fairy Tale
Author/IllustratorJackie Mims Hopkins; Jon Goodell
Publisher/Date: Peachtree Publishers/2006
Genre/Audience: Fiction/Ages 5+
Themes: Fairy Tales, Old West, Gold Rush, Melodrama

"Deep in the heart of gold minin' country lived a hardworking miner and his daughter. Pa and Gracie Pearl had always enjoyed gold minin', but alas, hard times had come upon them."

Synopsis: (From
This hysterical collision of fairy tales, Perils of Pauline-style melodrama, and the Gold Rush West cries out for audience participation.

Why I Love This Book
The reader joins other desert critters for the afternoon matinee of this fairy tale mash-up melodrama. The participatory elements are SO fun during a read-aloud. (For example, every time you see a MUSTACHE, you get to say, "Boo, hiss".) My boys loved this because they could help me "read" the story. Hopkins cleverly weaves Goldilocks, The Three Pigs, Jack's Golden Goose, Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel, and Rumplestiltskin into Gracie Pearl's search for a solution to her money problems.


What is melodrama?

Perils of Pauline film serial (1914)

Fractured Fairy Tales lesson

For more links to Perfect Picture Books, a collection of bloggers who contribute at Susanna Leonard Hill’s site, click here.