Wednesday, December 7, 2022

7 Days of Books, Day 7 Winter Holidays

Oh My Goodness! Day 7, and the Holiday season is upon us!

I hope you have been enjoying the books I've shared and are thinking about which ones might be good matches for the kiddos on your list. I've certainly found joy in reading all of them over the past couple of months. And much to my surprise, my librarian has certainly appreciated getting my list of requested titles in her queue. Last week when I dropped by to pick up a few new books, one of the assistants said, "We always love the books you ask for." And the head librarian chuckled and said, "What I love most is seeing a title you'd like to be ordered, and I can say, 'I beat her to it!'" 

It feels good to connect over books, doesn't it? 

I'm sure all of the visitors to this blog have a special library with special experiences to talk about.

But here we are on Day 7 with our last category of BOOKS! 

The #giveaways for all of the days are still open and will remain open until DECEMBER 10, so there is still time to go back to earlier posts to log your entries with blog post comments and do the rafflecopters for the daily prizes. PLUS, you'll be inspired with ideas for great gifts! Winners will be chosen and announced on about December 11.

I hope that in this season of Gathering that you each find JOY in spending time with the company of others who warm your heart and lift your soul. Perhaps that sounds cliche, but it is sincerely wished for YOU and those you love. 

These books below are meant to be read aloud to young ears and eyes that gleam with hope and excitement of the holidays. Wherever we are, may our inner lights shine bright, may we use that light to kindle the flame in others, and let us remember those in need and give however we can.

Peace and God Bless

The Donkey's Song. A Christmas Nativity Story 
by Jacki Kellum, illustrated by Sydney Hanson (Doubleday Books for Young Readers 2022). 

This story is absolutely wonderous. 

From it's rhythmic text that lends itself toward snuggling down into a safe warm bed to its softly lit illustrations that render the miracle of a Baby's birth on one December night, readers will feel the bits of love and tenderness evoked from each illustration before slipping into their own gentle dreams. 

Mendel's Hanukkah MESS UP by Chana and Larry Stiefel, illustrated by Daphna Awadish (Kalaniot Books 2022).

When an accident-prone boy is asked to help spread the news of the local Hanukkah celebration, the joy and message of the holiday ends up becoming more widespread than ever, showing that sometimes even if the best efforts don't go as planned, the best outcomes will fall into place due to what is felt in the heart--and coming to realize that "we each have a spark to light up the world." What a beautiful message in a wonderful story for all young readers.

Thankful Thanksgiving 
by Deb Adamson, illustrated by Benedetta Capriotti (Cottage Door Press 2022). 

This rhyming board book celebrates an American holiday traditionally set aside for gathering with family and friends. The delightful mice family and vibrant illustrations will ignite memories and initiate discussions about the holiday and how to give thanks on any day of the year in young readers. 

Another book to keep an eye out for by Deb Adamson, illustrated by Alessia Trunfio is God Sent You With Love (Cottage Door Press 2022), which will be released on December 20th, so you can preorder it now for the holiday season and beyond.

Miss Mary's Christmas Mittens 
by Trinka Hakes Noble, illustrated by Renee Andriani (Sleeping Bear Press 2022). 

As a teacher, there are so many things to love about this story. The way it shows how much Miss Mary cares for her students, the way it shows how to be resourceful and problem-solve in order to meet a goal, and the way it shows gratitude for acts of kindness. I'm sure this book will inspire young readers to go on and do their own acts of kindness over the holidays, which can then be continued throughout the year. Plus, the story inspires craft activity, which was a big hit in our home for as long as I can remember.

Christmas Fairies for Ouma
by Lindsay McDivitt, illustrated by Katarzyna Bukiert (Familius 2022). 

What is it about miracles that grab our attention? Is it the miracles that come into being due to the workings of everyday people that imbue the most awe at the events that had to line up just perfectly--at just the right moment and at just the right time? That is what this story meant for me. Imagine how a letter put in a mailbox for a grandmother found its way another continent on the other side of the ocean, without a stamp or proper address? Yes, that really happened. That is this beautiful story, showing that  kind and thoughtful people are all around us, and they help make miracles happen. (And if a divine power helped in some little way, then all the better.) This is a story for all ages.

A Very Mercy Christmas by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Chris Van Dusen (Candlewick 2022). 

My kids loved the Mercy Watson books when they were little -- oh how many giggles we shared while reading them. My nieces loved them, too, because I brought those books to them on one of my visits. Story after story we read, while snuggling on a comfy couch. That particular visit was one year during the holidays, which might be why I nearly jumped for joy when I saw this new Mercy Watson book had been published. Joy. Silliness. Warmth. Love. It's all there in these pages. Mercy Watson won't disappoint.

Playing with Lanterns
by Wang Yage, illustrated by Zhu Chengliang, translated by Helen Wang (Amazon Crossing Kids 2022). 

This story about Chinese New Year, as it is celebrated in China with handmade paper lanterns has it all. Beautiful and vibrant illustrations. A lyrical text that sings with metaphors in just the right places. A subtle social-emotional learning message about a kids dealing with emotions when a holiday comes to an end (they all do, don't they), but the realization of looking forward to another. And insight about how a traditions for Chinese New Year is celebrated over 15 days with friends and family. I fell in love with this book as soon as I read it, and predict it will get multiple re-readings with families.

I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Dreidel
 by Caryn Yacowitz, illustrated by David Slonim (Arther Levine Books 2022). 

There is so much to love with this book: a new twist on a familiar rhyme, escalating humor, holiday traditions, and art - as in, representations of artworks. This story is for every kid, because the humor will please, while the rhyme and the details will engage.

To finish out our #7DaysOfBooks, there are 4 #giveaways with today's post. 

Winners will be chosen after the event wraps up on December 10. So that means there is still time to nab a chance at giveaways from Days 1-6 and get excellent ideas for gifts. 

Books make great gifts and help nudge confident readers into blooming. There is no better life-long skill you can instill in a child than an appreciation for stories and books! And it all begins with wonderful memories of reading with family.

Today's prizes include:

1) A signed copy of THE DONKEY'S SONG from Jacki Kellum to US address

2) A signed copy of MENDEL'S HANUKKAH MESS UP from Chana Steifel to US address

3) A PB manuscript critique from Deb Adamson

4) A PB manuscript critique from me, your #7DaysOfBooks host, S. K. Wenger

Do you have more HOLIDAY BOOKS to share? Grab your first entry for one of the amazing giveaways by leaving a comment on today's blog post. 

Then grab more entries with this rafflecopter below.

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

7 Days of Books, Day 6 Biography & Historical Nonfiction in Children's Picture Books

When I first read the biographical and historical nonfiction books for children that I'm sharing with you today, I knew they were all SPECIAL. Since then, a couple have recently received Major awards and Honors, and I suspect even more are coming. 

Parents, guardians, aunties, uncles, grandparents, librarians, teachers -- you won't want to miss out on sharing these books with the young readers in your life.

The Tower of Life. How Yaffa Eliach Rebuilt her Town in Stories and Photographs by Chana Stiefel, illustrated by Susan Gal (Scholastic Press 2022)

Tingles all over. That's what I felt upon reading this beautiful book, this story about a woman who survived the erasure of her town and then went on to resurrect its memory and reunite its extended families through photographs that had been taken by her mother. This WINNER of the Russel Freedman Award for Nonfiction for a Better World is utterly astounding and deeply touching. It's a must-read book for all readers as an inspiration for finding light from darkness and treasuring traditions, like stories and story-telling, which connect us to the places we call home.

Mister Rogers' Gift of Music 
by Donna Cangelosi, illustrated by Amanda Calatzis (Page Street Kids 2022). 

The beautiful and whimsical illustrations that paint some of the favorite verses of the songs Mr Rogers sang in his television show will captivate young readers along with the story about what his life as a child was like, and why he so earnestly believed in connecting with children everywhere. When I was little, I remember my younger brother shouting to my mother, "Mom! He's talking to ME!" We loved Mr. Rogers. This kind soul was and is an inspiration to all.

Just Wild Enough. Mireya Major, Primatologist
by Marta Magellan, illustrated by Clementine Rocheron (Albert Whitman 2022). 

This remarkable story that breaks notions of scientists was among the very short list of titles being considered for the Prestigious Russell Freedman Award for Nonfiction for a Better World given by SCBWI. What is most surprising about this book is that it shows an interest in science can lie in everyone, including a girl with interests in dancing and ballet who worked as a Miami Dolphins cheerleader. A girl who went on to help establish nature preserves for rare and endangered lemurs in Madagascar and has gone on field assignment for National Geographic and makes TV programs about wild places and animals. This book is definitely one that ought to be shared with ALL readers, who will see life's goals and passions have no limits. 

Revolutionary Prudence Wright, Leading the Minute Women In the Fight for Independence by Beth Anderson, illustrated by Susan Reagan (Calkins Creek 2022). 

Having grown up in New England, where it seemed signs of colonial history could be found near every curve and corner, I was absolutely tickled when I discovered that Prudence Wright and I had grown up in the same area. We'd likely traveled the same dirt roads and fields, where the seeds for Prudence's independence had taken root. (I had a horse when I was tween, and the areas was quite rural.) However, this book will appeal to all kids, not just those in New England. The brings the history of events of the Revolutionary War to life, and sheds light on what the sparks for rebellion looked like in small towns. The additional information provided in the back matter from both the author and illustrator are also fantastic with additional insights on Prudence's story, such as the paper "love box" she made as a young girl and noted in the story. I highly recommend this book along with Beth's other new release CLOAKED IN COURAGE. UNCOVERING DEBORAH SAMPSON, PATRIOT SOLDIER.

Pizza! A Slice of History 
by Greg Pizzoli (Viking 2022). 

This origin story of pizza is packed with fascinating facts (like of Persian soldiers who baked shallow crusts on their shields) and subtle humor (like when the first pizza delivery may have occurred). Given the widespread popularity of this well-known meal, this book is bound to be a hit with young readers. 

Lola Out Loud, Inspired by the Childhood of Activist Delores Huerta by Jennifer Torres
, illustrated by Sara Palcios (Little, Brown and Company 2022). 

The story shares insight into the childhood of activist Delores (Lola) Huerta during her days spent at the Hotel Delano, her family's business enterprise. Between her child-like distractions and watching the generosity of her mother extended to guests who couldn't afford to pay to stay at their hotel, Lola learns to show that same generation and protective arm to others who need it. One line from the story struck me with its empathy: "because Lola and her Mama kept more than clean towels at Hotel Delano."Lola's story shows young readers that "one small voice can make a difference," and "if you see a problem, fix it! . . . Don't pretend it isn't there." Lola Out Loud is a wonderful story of human kindness that kids can model.

Jump At the Sun. The True Life Tale of Unstoppable Storycatcher Zora Neale Hurston by Alicia D. Williams, illustrated by Jacqueline Alcantara (Athenum 2021). 

Just like the title promises, and just like her Mama told her to do - Jump at the sun, so that she might at least get off the ground - the passion that author Zora Neale Hurston had for telling tales ever since she was a young child, bounces from the pages. Despite the hardships she faced when her mother died, and her father sent her away, Zora dug deep to follow her dreams and persevere. The illustrations match what must have been her zeal for storytelling, and which continued in to her adulthood. With its strong voice-driven narrative written by Alicia D. Williams, this book would make a perfection companion with BRAINSTORM written by Rebecca Gardyn Levington for aspiring young creatives. That book was reviewed on Day 3 here. Jump at the Sun is another fabulous title for young book lovers everywhere.

Today's prizes for the raffle include:

1) a signed copy of THE TOWER OF LIFE from Chana Stiefel to US address

2) a PB manuscript critique from Donna Cangelosi

3) a copy of the ARC of JUST WILD ENOUGH  and PB critique from Marta Magellan to US address

4) a copy of REVOLUTIONARY PRUDENCE WRIGHT from Beth Anderson to US address

To earn your chance at winning one of these prizes offered for today's post, make a comment on this blog post. Are there any favorite works of NF or biography that you would like to share?

Then grab more entries with this rafflecopter.

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Monday, December 5, 2022

7 Days of Books, Day 5 Humor

Wow! It's hard to believe we are at Day 5 in this celebration of books! 

I've had this quote from Bruce Coville on my blog for a long time: 

"The first audible sound we make is through tears; 

the first comprehensible sound we make is through laughter." 

Capture of laughing babies from a series of videos at this site:

Today, the category is humor, and while babies quickly catch on the rush that they get from a good giggle, understanding and navigating jokes, silly play, and even learning how to push through rough feelings in order to see the bright side or appreciate positive blessings is a skill that must be learned. This is why some believe that humor an extension of Social-Emotional Learning. 

Here are 2 articles on the topic, if you're interested:

For me, some of the best memories from story time with my children have involved those moments when we have laughed out loud over the antics of characters in a book. I hope that you'll find moments like that with your own children as we spend more time with family through the holidays, wrap up 2022, and move forward into a new year.

I know that I haven't touched on every funny book recently published. After all, I'm only one person. So please feel free to share your own favorite funny titles in the comments. And then grab more entries for the giveaways at the rafflecopter.

HOliday lights in Oregon:

And now, on to some of my recent favorite books in this category.

Little Red Writing Hood and the Big Bad Editor
 by Rebecca Kraft Rector, illustrated by Shanda McClosky (Aladdin 2022). 

I can't say enough for this tremendously funny story! Kids will love it and gobble it up from the puns, to the clever twists, to the growing tension, and most especially the readily understood edits that the Big Bad Wolf makes to Little Red's letter written to her grandma as Little Red tries to journey to grandma's house. 

Highly recommended by the South Bend Book Council

Learn more about Rebecca Kraft Rector, and her other books like SQUISH SQUASH SQUISHED here:

The Incredible Shrinking Lunch Room 
written by Michel Babay, illustrated by Paula Cohen (Charlesbridge 2022). 

Oh, my, gosh! This story brought smiles from the get-go. Young readers will be exceedingly tickled by the mounting sillyness that unfolds under the direction of the loving principal, Ms. Mensch, who has a funny way of solving problems. Inspired by a tale from Yiddish folklore, this story's foundation lays upon the timeless Jewish wisdom of sameach b'chelko (being content with what you have). Check it out! You and your littles will love this story.

Learn more about Michel Babay, school visits, and her other book, I'M A GLUTEN-SNIFFING SERVICE DOG here: 

Battle of the Brains 
by Jocelyn Rish, illustrated by David Creigton-Pester (Running Press Kids 2022). 

Wowsers! Each one of the animal stars in this book either earned a laugh-out-loud or smile widely at their cleverness. Kids will eat up this sequel to the debut by this author and illustrator team, BATTLE OF THE BUTTS. I especially like the engagement for readers from the beginning in getting them to pay attention to deciding which animal will be declared a winner in the Battle of the Brains along with the criteria to consider while weighing in on the contestants. This book definitely will earn thumbs-feet-flippers-and-wings-up around the globe.

Super Pizza and Kid Kale 
by Phaea Crede, illustrated by Zack Smith (Viking 2022). 

Kids are treated to two new superheroes of the most delicious kind. Oh, wait. I take that back. Because one of the heroes is made of kale, a.k.a Kid Kale. And that's where a wonderful friendship starts to go sour in this fun, comic-style book when Super Pizza gets all the credit for deeds done together. Readers will go along on the journey and cheer with both characters and their admirers when all it put back to right.

This Field Trip Stinks! 
by Becky Scharnhorst, illustrated by Julia Patton (Flamingo Books 2022). 

This follow up to MY SCHOOL STINKS sure does find its humor in more adventure with school-going beasts and one human child. This time, when our reluctant participant experiences things going from bad to worse, he discovers he's actually got a knack for backwoods travel and brings everyone home safely. Great for all kids, including those in the most urban environments.

Spellbound, An Enchanting New Arrival 
by Jess Townes, illustrated by Jennifer Harney (Union Square Kids 2022). 

In this adorable picture book, a young girl named Willow garners her magic from the world around her (because it is meant to be shared), but becomes anxious when she discovers a new wizard in the house. Despite worrying that this new baby brother might be more powerful than her, she ultimately discovers a way to celebrate his own magic. Young readers will especially be captivated by the names of Willow's spells, such as Bakus Cupcakus!

by Jennifer Harney. (Disney Hyperion 2019). 

I absolutely adorable this picture book that is full of fun with word play. Who hasn't experienced a young child who loves to run around naked after a bath, or who loves to be silly with testing out new jokes and rhyme? It's all here in this wonderful bedtime story.

Invasion of the Unicorns 
by David Bierdrzycki (Charlesbridge 2021). 

This humorous picture book tells the story of an alien spy sent to the Earth in order to scout out the planet for potential invasion. The fun begins with the identity of this alien life-form, which is a stuffed unicorn, who starts his journey in an arcade machine where a lucky winner snags a prize catch with a robotic clasping three-tined gripper. Of course, our unicorn alien finds all sorts of things to love about Earth. The humor shines through in turning frustrations on their heads: the lack of talent in winning at the snatch a toy game, the immense joy felt in finally winning, interactions with the family dog who comes across as an adversary, etc. Told in panels similar to a comic book that shows the log entries typed to the unicorn alien's "fearless leader," young and old readers alike will love the humor and heart that shines through the story.

Blood is Not Just a Vampire Drink
 by Stacey McAnulty, illustrated by Shawna J. C. Tenney  (Henry Holt and Company 2022). 

With lots of nods toward the lovable Count from Sesame Street and tons of fascinating facts about blood flowing through our bodies, this follow-up to BRAINS! NOT JUST A ZOMBIE SNACK is sure to delight young readers, and even prompt them into the kitchen to explore delicious concoctions like pineapple fig smoothies.

And no joke, we've got 3 #giveaways with today's post. Winners will be chosen when the event wraps up on December 10. So that means there is still time to nab a chance at giveaways from Days 1-4, as well as come back for Days 6-7 for more incredible goodness.

1) A PB manuscript critique from Jocelyn Rish

2) A copy of THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING LUNCHROOM from Michel Babay to US address

3) A copy of LITTLE RED AND THE BIG BAD EDITOR from Rebecca Kraft Rector to US address

Do you have more funny books to share? Grab your first entry for one of the amazing giveaways by leaving a comment on today's blog post. 

Then grab more entries for the giveaways with the rafflecopter below. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway