Book Review: The Book Tree

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The Book Tree by Paul Czajak and Rashin Kheiriyeh

The Book Tree cover

AUTHOR: Paul Czajak

ILLUSTRATOR: Rashin Kheiriyeh

PUBLISHER: Barefoot Books

AGE RANGE: 4-9

EXCERPT:

When young Arlo accidentally drops a book on the Mayor’s head, the Mayor decides books are dangerous and destroys all the books in town! But thanks to Arlo’s imagination and perseverance, the Mayor finds that suppressing stories cannot stop them from blossoming more beautifully than ever. This timely allegorical tale will be a useful tool for starting conversations with children about the power of activism and the written word.

WHY I LIKE THIS BOOK:

The Book Tree, written by Paul Czajak and illustrated by Rashin Kheiriyeh, is one of my favorite recent reads. The lyrical language, gorgeous illustrations, an important message make this picture book a wonderful addition to the home library. There are so many moments in this book that tug at your heartstrings. Young readers will feel Arlo’s sadness when books are banished. And they will cheer him on when he brings books back to life. The Book Tree celebrates imagination and reinforces the importance of literature.

The Book Tree crying spread

“This delicious and subversive little parable of a book, with its lyrical text and anarchic pictures, is just what we need in today’s world. It reminds us that words matter, stories matter, books matter. And it does so in a childlike (but never childish) way.”

– Jane Yolen

The Book Tree spread

“My favorite part is when more people become book gardeners.” -Sophie, age 6

Rashin Kheiriyeh’s art is a perfect fit for this story. I’m a huge fan of the #kidlitwomen movement. Illustrators like Rashin Kheiriyeh should be celebrated for their brilliance. And she is brilliant.

The Book Tree different languages

“I like that the books from the tree are in different languages.”- Mason, age 10

The Book Tree will sprout an even greater love and appreciation for books. Read this one with the kids in your life, and encourage them to tell their own stories.

Rashin Kheiriyeh

Rashin headshot

Rashin Kheiriyeh is an internationally recognized, award-winning illustrator/author, animation director and painter who has published seventy children’s books in countries such as the United State, France, Italy, Japan,Germany, Spain, South Korea,China, Brazil, India and Iran. She has received Fifty national and international awards for the books and animations including recently being winner of the 2017 Sandak Fellow Award, New York. She was also the winner of the Bologna Book Fair, Italy for Six times and the winner of Golden Apple Award at the Biennial of Illustration Bratislava (BIB), Slovakia. She has an Honorary Doctorate Degree in Illustration and MFA in Graphic design from Alzahra University, Tehran, Iran. She also studied at School of Visual Arts (SVA) in New York. She is a lecturer at Department of Art, University of Maryland. Rashin enjoys illustrating for the New York Times, Google and many other publication houses around the world.

Paul Czajak

Paul Czajak headshot

Paul Czajak got an ‘F’ with the words “get a tutor” on his college writing paper and after that, never thought he’d become a writer. But after spending twenty years as a chemist, he knew his creativity could no longer be contained. Living in Massachusetts with his wife, and two little monsters, Paul has rediscovered his passion for writing and looks forward to sharing his stories for years to come.

Learn more about Paul’s work:

Website: Includes information about school visits, resources for writers, and free coloring pages.

Follow Paul on Social media:

Twitter

Instagram

Kirkus  review of The Book Tree

The Book Tree book trailer

The Book Tree is available for pre-order:

Indie Bound

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Other books by Paul:

Monster Needs a Costume, Monster Needs His Sleep, Monster Needs a Christmas Tree, Monster Needs a Party, Monster Needs Your Voteand one of my absolute favorites: Seaver the Weaver.

 

 

 

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Book Review: My Pillow Keeps Moving!

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My Pillow Keeps Moving! by Laura Gehl

My Pillow Keeps Moving cover

AUTHOR: Laura Gehl

ILLUSTRATOR: Christopher Weyant

PUBLISHER: Viking Books for Young Readers

AGE RANGE: 4-8

EXCERPT:

A lonely man tries to buy a pillow . . . and ends up with a new best friend in this silly and sweet doggy tale, perfect for fans of Officer Buckle and Gloria.

Dogs make good pillows, don’t they?

A clever pup ends up in a cozy home, and she’ll do anything to stay there. She impersonates everything the lonely homeowner needs–a pillow, a footstool, a jacket. But in the end, being herself works best. Laura Gehl’s spare, humorous text and New Yorker cartoonist Christopher Weyant’s expressive characters will leave young readers giggling and begging for more.

WHY I LIKE THIS BOOK:

The interplay of text and art in My Pillow Keeps Moving!, written by Laura Gehl and illustrated by Christopher Weyant, is brilliant. Young readers are incredibly observant. Chances are kids will notice details in this book that adults won’t. I love books like this because you spend more time taking in each spread. The wordless spreads are done so well that these moments lead to little fingers interacting with the page and little voices telling adults exactly what is going on.

My Pillow Keeps Moving Jacket spread

I love reading this book aloud. My kids think my voice for the salesperson is hilarious. His character is so perfectly cheesy. I can’t help myself.

My Pillow Keeps Moving salesperson spread

My friends and family ask me for picture book recommendations all the time. In my writing circles, writers often ask for mentor text suggestions. Especially suggestions of funny picture books written by women. My Pillow Keeps Moving! is always at the top of my recommendation list.

My Pillow Keeps Moving foot stool

The re-readability factor of this book is off the charts. The only other book that makes my kids laugh as much is Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Scieszka. My ten-year-old son reads MG and mama-approved YA, but he still adores picture books. My Pillow Keeps Moving! is one of his favorites.

“The art is SO funny! The salesman is my favorite character. He’s really, really silly.” -Mason, age 10

My Pillow Keeps Moving Mason and Sophie

“I love absolutely everything about it! The cat is my second favorite character.”- Sophie, age 6

Laura Gehl

Laura Gehl headshot

Laura Gehl is the author of ONE BIG PAIR OF UNDERWEAR, a Charlotte Zolotow Highly Commended Title and Booklist Books for Youth Editors’ Choice; HARE AND TORTOISE RACE ACROSS ISRAEL, AND THEN ANOTHER SHEEP TURNED UP, and KOALA CHALLAH (all PJ Library selections); and the PEEP AND EGG series (Children’s Choice Book Award Finalist; Parents’ Choice Recommendation). Upcoming releases include I GOT A CHICKEN FOR MY BIRTHDAY (Carolrhoda/Lerner) and MY PILLOW KEEPS MOVING (Viking/Penguin Random House). A former science and reading teacher, she also writes about science for children and adults. Laura lives in Chevy Chase, Maryland with her husband and four children.

Laura’s most recent picture book, DELIVERY BEAR, is available for pre-order.

Delivery Bear cover

Learn more about Laura’s work:

Website: Includes info on free Skype visits, info on author visits, free curriculum guides, free autographed bookplates, and free activity sheets.

Follow Laura on Social media:

Facebook

Twitter

Excellent post about illustrator Christopher Weyant’s creative process:

The Children’s Book Review

OTHER REVIEWS of My Pilllow Keeps Moving!:

Kirkus

Publishers Weekly

Where to find My Pillow Keeps Moving!:

Indie Bound

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

 

 

Book Review: Hedgehog Needs A Hug

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Hedgehog Needs a Hug by Jen Betton

Hedgehog Needs a Hug

AUTHOR/ILLUSTRATOR: Jen Betton

PUBLISHER: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

AGE RANGE: 4-8

EXCERPT:

Everyone needs hugs, even if they’re prickly.

When Hedgehog wakes up feeling down in the snout and droopy in the prickles, he knows a hug will make him feel much better. But none of his animal friends are eager to wrap their arms around Hedgehog’s prickles, and he’s too smart to fall for Fox’s sly offer.

Then Hedgehog gets a surprise: Another animal in the forest is feeling exactly the same way.

Luckily, both are kind and brave enough for the perfect hug.

WHY I LIKE THIS BOOK:

The lovely language perfectly matches the gorgeous illustrations in this book. The size and layout of Hedgehog Needs a Hug is wonderful for reading to kiddos on your lap or reading to larger audiences. Jen Betton’s inviting visuals will make this one a favorite. You are sure to get a big hug every time you read Hedgehog Needs a Hug to the littles in your life.

Hedgehog spread

Kids will adore the lively language.

“And hippity-skippity-scram, she was gone.”

And anticipate the refrain:

“I need a hug. Will you give me one?” 

This is one of my favorites spreads in the book. When I was discussing Hedgehog Needs a Hug with one of my writer friends, she said, “The illustrations are so sweet. Realistic, but expressive.” I couldn’t agree more.

Hedgehog and fox

The composition varies from page to page, drawing the reader in and moving the story forward. I love when picture books end on a sweet note. And this one did not disappoint.

WHY MY KIDS LIKE THIS BOOK:

“I would give hedgehog a hug!” -Sophie, age 6

Hedgehog coloring sheet by Sophie

“I like the inclusion of others at the end.” -Mason, age 10

Hedgehog coloring sheet by Mason

The Hedgehog Needs a Hug book trailer is soft and sweet. It captures the “feeling” of the book incredibly well.

Author-illustrator Jen Betton

Jen Betton

I love to draw and write stories for kids! In Kindergarten I got into trouble for drawing presents on a picture of Santa, and I’ve been illustrating ever since. My picture books include, TWILIGHT CHANT, written by Holly Thompson, published with Clarion, and HEDGEHOG NEEDS A HUG, my debut as an author-illustrator, published with Putnam.

I have a BA in English from Grove City College, a BFA in Painting from the University of Central Florida, and an MFA in Illustration from Syracuse University. I also teach illustration and animation students.

My awards include third place and honorable mention in Children’s Market in the Society of Illustrators Los Angeles in 2010 and 2015, a SCBWI national mentorship award in 2012, and the portfolio grand prize at New England’s SCBWI conference in 2014.

You can find me in Dallas with my husband, chasing our two kids.

Learn more about Jen’s work:

Website: Includes a teachers guide, activity kits, printable coloring pages, Hedge-Hat Craft, Printable bookplates, hedgehog crafts, and an image discussion guide.

Hedgehog crown-Sophie

Sophie was excited to show off her HEDGE-HAT!

Follow Jen Betton on Social media:

Blog

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

Pinterest

OTHER REVIEWS of Hedgehog Needs a Hug:

Kirkus

Publishers Weekly

Where to find Hedgehog Needs a Hug:

Barnes & Noble

Indie Bound

Amazon

 

Book Review: La Frontera: My Journey with Papa

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La Frontera: My Journey with Papa

LA FRONTERA

AUTHORS: Deborah Mills & Alfredo Alva

ILLUSTRATOR: Claudia Navarro

PUBLISHER: Barefoot Books

AGE RANGE: 4-10

EXCERPT: Based on a true story! Join a young boy and his father on an arduous journey from Mexico to the United States in the 1980s to find a new life. They’ll need all the courage they can muster to safely cross the border — la frontera — and to make a home for themselves in a new land.

JACKET COPY: “Abuelo told Papa he must find a new home. ‘You must leave La Ceja and find a place where work will be plentiful and your family will flourish. Take Alfredo with you, as he is your first-born and will help you on this journey.’”

WHY I LIKE THIS BOOK:

Claudia Navarro’s illustrations bring this bilingual book, based on a true immigration story, to life. The marriage of art and kid-relatable text, by Deborah Mills and Alfredo Alva, draws the reader in from the first page to the last.

When I read La Frontera with my kids (ages 6 and 10) they wanted to spend extra time taking in each spread. They asked several questions and were able to emphasize with the characters. My son expressed how heartbreaking it would feel to be away from one’s family. My daughter expressed how difficult it would be to learn a new language and make new friends.

LA FRONTERA PAPA AND SON

I also feel La Frontera is a great book to open a discussion about privilege. My son shared how scary it would be to cross a river and sleep outside with fire ants, scorpions, and snakes. He was also outraged to learn that Alfredo could have been picked up by “someone in a uniform” and taken back to the border without his father.

“I feel so bad for them, Mom. We are lucky because we would never have to go through any of that.”

LA FRONTERA SPREAD

I thought Deborah Mills and Alfredo Alva brilliantly described “coyotes” for young readers. As a writer, I also appreciated story elements that were tied together later in the book. For example, the touching moment Alfredo had with his mother before he and Papa left on their journey. And Alfredo’s friendship with his donkey, Fernando, and the comfort he felt when he met the baby pig after he and Papa arrived at the “Embassy.”

“My only friend was a baby javelina, a wild pig, who wandered in one day. I think she had lost her mother. I felt like I had, too. We were both lonely, and I told her all my thoughts. She reminded me of my donkey Fernando, back home.”

The strength of the human spirit and the importance of tradition and culture are beautifully captured in this book. This illustration tugs at my heartstrings.

LA FRONTERA PAPA AND SON LAUGHING

Sometimes my kids lose interest when we read back matter. Not in this case. The combination of maps, photographs of Alfredo’s family, and concise yet informative text kept their interest and sparked even more questions.

LA FRONTERA BACK MATTER

Our family recently moved to a bigger city. Diversity and activism are more visible for my children, which I embrace and appreciate to my core. I also try very hard to share a wide range of books with my kids. La Frontera is a perfect book to introduce the important topic of immigration to young readers. This timely book can also aid parents and teachers in discussing current events.

Learn more about La Frontera and watch the book trailer on the Barefoot Books website.

OTHER REVIEWS of La Frontera: My Journey with Papa:

Booklist

School Library Journal

Kirkus

Foreword Reviews

 

Listen to the Wind: The Story of Dr. Greg & Three Cups of Tea

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I chose a very special book for my second post for Dive Into Diversity. My son, Mason, will be seven years old next month. After he was born, my friend came from Idaho to visit us in Oregon. She brought Mason a beautiful book as well as an inspiring CD for me. I am listening to Women of the World: Acoustic as I write this post. I hadn’t listened to this music in a long time. I also hadn’t read Listen to the Wind in a long time. Mason is now old enough to appreciate this beautiful true story about compassion, celebrating culture, and working together to make the world a better place through education and peace.

Listen to the Wind: The Story of Dr. Greg & Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson ~ art by Susan L. Roth

Listen to the wind

Greg Mortenson stumbled, lost and delirious, into a remote Himalayan village after a failed climb up K2. The villagers saved his life, and he vowed to return and build them a school. The remarkable story of his promise kept is now perfect for reading aloud. Told in the voice of Korphe’s children, this story illuminates the humanity and culture of a relevant and distant part of the world in gorgeous collage, while sharing a riveting example of how one person can change thousands of lives.

The first page of Listen to the Wind introduces young readers to the children of Korphe.

20150228_145429 (1)

The last three sentences draw the reader in and set up the story.

“We study in the school that we helped build.

Before our school was built,

we had lessons outside.

We wrote with sticks,

on the ground.”

We learn how the people of Korphe helped Dr. Greg and how Dr. Greg wanted to give back to the people of Korphe. Dr. Greg asked the wise man how he could help. The wise man said, “Listen to the wind.”

Dr. Greg closed his eyes and heard the voices of the children.

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The language throughout the entire book is inviting. I love the use of “folds” to describe the mountains.

“We watched him walk away until he disappeared into the folds of the mountains.”

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Susan L. Roth’s collage illustrations are breath-taking. I had a difficult time deciding which pages to include in this post!

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The outcome of all their hard work is displayed powerfully in the final spread, which includes a letter from the children of Korphe and an illustration of them studying in their new school.

“We are the children of Korphe. Can you hear our voices?

Listen to the wind . . .”

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The end of the book includes a beautiful Korphe scrapbook as well as an artist’s note.

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My favorite photograph in the scrapbook is of Haji Ali, the wise man who tells Dr. Greg to “listen to the wind.”

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To learn more about the story behind Listen to the Wind visit Three Cups of Tea.

diveintodiversity