Thursday, December 30, 2021

7 Days of Books, Winner Winners!

We have winners from the 7 Days of Books Sharing Event!

💫  Thank you so much to those who stopped by to add their favorite books to the lists I put together each day.

I live in a rural area, with access to a small library, so I find a lot of my books through lists and recommendations like those shared here. Thank you so much for spreading the joy for children's literature which I believe can put any child on the path to a fulfilling life well-lived.

And now for the Winner Reveal!

Janet Frenck Sheets 😃

Melissa D  😀

Michelle Steinberg 😁

Thank you for participating! 💖

I have begun sending messages via Twitter.

If you haven't seen one, DM me there.

Happy New Year! 

Happy New Reading!

Happy New Wishes for all!

Friday, December 24, 2021

7 Days of Books, Day 7 A Mish-Mash of Recommended Children's Books

Here were are on the 7th day of books, and I'm sharing some books I've loved for all kinds of different reasons. If you'd like a chance to win a $25 Visa Gift card, or a Starbucks Gift card, or a picture book critique, please leave a comment below about a favorite book, and share this post on social media or RT my posts there. You can find more details on the post for Day 1. Each comment/share gets an entry. Winners will be announced on Dec 28th! 

The Littlest Yak by Lu Fraser, illustrated by Kate Hindley (Peachtree Publishing 2021). Gertie the yak can't grow up fast enough to fill her big feelings and can't get over being small until she accomplishes something that no big yak can do. A wonderful read-aloud that flows seamlessly in an upbeat rhyme.

Itty Bitty Kitty Corn by Shannon Hale and Leuyen Pham (Harry N. Abrams 2021). An "irresistibly adorable" factor carries over from the front cover and builds all the way to the oh-so-good ending. A book about embracing yourself and others that begs for re-reading and sharing.

Cao Chong Weighs an Elephant
by Sonju Ma Daemicke, illustrated by Christina Wald (Arbordale Publishing 2017). This wonderful story rooted in a fascinating piece of Chinese history shows the story of how a young boy figured out how to weigh an elephant when traditional scales were too small and wouldn't work. Scientific and mathematical concepts are embedded effortlessly in a way that will be accessible for both younger and older readers alike. This book earned the honor of BEST STEM BOOK by the NSTA in 2017.

The Elephant's Girl by Celesta Rimington (Crown Books for Young Readers 2020).  This middle grade novel is a little bit fantasy, a little bit ghost story, a little bit mystery, a little bit circus, and a whole lot of one girls' quest to discover who she is and where she truly belongs. 

The Refuge by Sandra le Guen, illustrated by Stephanie Nicolet, translated by Daniel Hahn (Amazon Crossing Kids 2020). A story that shows how it is not easy to be the new kid, especially after having taken such a long and dangerous journey, while also showing how to be a friend and accepting to those who are new arrivals in a new place.

Bird Hugs
by Ged Adamson (Two Lions 2020). With impossibly long wings that aren't suitable for flying, Bernard wonders what his wings are good for until he meets a sad orangutan in need of a hug. Soon he learns that with friends, anything is possible, even flying. Adorable must read for any child that loves to give hugs as much as receive them.

10 Little Disciples
by Sierra Wilson (Emerald House Group 2021). This lovely heart-warming story calls to mind discipleship with a simple countdown rhyme that will engage the youngest readers. Perfect for those learning to read and learning to recognize numbers as well.

What are some of your favorite books to share with the kids in your life?

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

7 Days of Books, Day 6 #STEM for checking out Science and Math!

Here we are on the 6th day of our 7 days of celebrating books! If you'd like a chance to win one of the three prizes - $25 visa gift card, a $10 Starbucks card, or a picture book manuscript critique, then leave a comment about one of your favorite books on this topic and share on social media. Be sure to tag me. The more comments and shares, the more chances to win! You have until Dec 28th! Winners will be announced then. More info on the giveaway can be found on Day 1's post here.

Today we are looking at spectacular books related to science or math. These books allow kids to take a deeper look in a creative way that makes discovery fun and enjoyable.

The Thingity - Jig by Kathleen Doherty, illustrated by Kristyna Litten (Peachtree 2021) This humorous twist to engineering application of STEAM concepts in children's books is sure to delight young readers. What budding scientist wouldn't be proud to proclaim they've built a Rolly-Rumpity and Lifty-Uppity and more to get their Thingity-Jig home to enjoy and share with friends? This story found a whole lot of love from this science-teaching heart. I highly recommend for any family or classroom! 

Isobel Adds it Up by Kristy Everington, illustrated by ( 2021). This adorable story delivers a fun romp with an unexpected surprise! Readers will enjoy predicting how Isobel might add everything up by the end of the book, including taking guesses at who that noisy neighbor is who lives next door.

Tu Youyou's Discovery. Finding a Cure for Malaria by Songju Ma Deamicke, illustrated by Lin (Albert Whitman 2021) In a world where racing to find cures for diseases and vaccinations for viruses along with  the scrutiny for proper investigation and testing, this book is sheds timely illumination and inspiration on the topic. What I love is that it shows how a scientist followed her dream to save lives, just as her life had been saved after a long illness with tuberculosis. It also shows that the research was led by a woman, that it wasn't easy, and that success was found after many failures. Lastly, it shows how combining local knowledge of traditional Chinese medicine with mainstream medicinal research yielded a cure that could be replicated. Bravo! A story not to be missed.

Flower Talk, How Plants Use Color to Communicate by Sara Levine, illustrated by Masha D'Yans (Millbrook Press 2019) Talking flowers? Yep. Right on the first page. The clever narration of this book will grab the attention of readers, while the fascinating facts of the simple colors they see around them will hold them glued to the pages until the end. This is a book I wish I had read as a child. Nature hikes would have been so much more meaningful in allowing me to see the connections between plants and the world around them.

Battle of the Butts
by Jocelyn Rish, illustrated by David Creighton-Pester (Running Press Kids 2021) What kid wouldn't gobble up a book about animals that focuses on all the strange but true (pun intended) facts associated with their behinds? A gift that any kid at heart will love. 

Facts vs Opinions Vs Robots
by Michael Rex (Nancy Paulsen Books 2020). This clever book uses humor and the appeal of robots to show the difference between facts and opinions in this interactive book. Who could have thought robots could be so charming?!

Sunday, December 19, 2021

7 Days of Books, Day 5 Language Arts and Arts

💃 Here we are on Day 5! Time is zipping fast through this holiday season, and I hope you are looking forward to finding more time to relax, rest, and unwind as we reflect on 2021.

💥 If you'd like to earn chances for the giveaway of one of three prizes -- a $25 visa gift card,  a $10 Starbucks gift card, or a picture book manuscript critique, leave a comment below and share this post on social media, as well as comment on 2 others, including Day 7. Each comment/share earns you an entry in the raffle. I will announce winners on Dec 28, and you can comment/share posts up until that day. More details about my social media handles are in Day 1's post here.

🙌 Today I'm looking at books that I read that touched on language arts or the arts in some way. I hope you'll find time to enjoy them and request them for your local library. Libraries are always looking for book recommendations from their patrons, and it's a great way to support authors and illustrators!

🎉 Now for a dive into my list. I'll hope you'll be able to add your own favorites, because I am only one person who would love all the books, but that, of course, is impossible.

Ghoul's Guide to Good Grammar
 by Leslie Kimmelman, illustrated by Mary Sullivan (Sleeping Bear Press 2021). It's not just a Halloween book! This clever story of common grammar rules and common mistakes is told with familiar creatures/monsters/ghosts, along with puns and a whole lot of smart humor! The great examples of mistakes and correct usage make learning proper grammar fun.

She Sang for the Mountains by Shannon Hitchcock, illustrated by Sophie Page (Reycraft 2021). This beautiful book about the life of singer, songwriter, and activist Jean Ritchie shows how music blossomed in the heart of a young girl who then grew up to use it to draw attention to things she cared about and wanted to change, such as the pollution caused by coal mining in her homeland of Kentucky. The mixed media used by the illustrator also provide another layer of art exploration for young readers. The beautiful illustrations are made from clay, paper, fabric, wire, and a handful of coal.

The Lost Language
by Claudia Mills (Margaret Ferguson Books 2021). This middle grade novel offers exploration of language in multiple ways. Through the structure of the novel itself, which is told in verse. Through a goal that two friends, Betsy and Lizard, decide to share in the story, which is to save one of many languages in the world that is in danger of going extinct. And through the expression of emotions that are shown by the main characters, each of which handle in them in different ways. I felt this novel was an honest rendering of relationships - that they aren't perfect, that they aren't always easy, that they hold opportunities for growth, and that they are forever changing. Highly recommended for any middle school reader.

If Picasso Painted a Snowman
by Amy Newbold, illustrated by Greg Newbold (Tilbury House Publishers 2020). This book is a visual feast designed to inspire the imagination of young readers in the exploration of how snowmen could be made/painted by different artists due to the different influences of their background, region of living, or artistic style. What I love about this book is that readers will be inspired to consider their own environment and interests and create their own version of a snowman, which is certainly empowering, since they'll see that they don't need to be surrounded by a winter wonderland to do it.

Bedtime for Sweet Creatures by Nikki Grimes, illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon (Sourcebooks 2020). Young readers are taken on a bedtime romp as a child is compared to a variety of animals in their antics and actions as they prepare to be tucked in for the night. I love the metaphors that will encourage young readers to discuss how the main character is like a fawn or acting like an owl, etc. I found this story to be a pure delight that lays the foundations for an appreciation of language arts and perhaps theatre. 

Summer Song
by Kevin Henkes, illustrated by Laura Dronzek (Greenwillow Books 2020). This story invites readers to consider the many ways that different parts of summer are a song. From the different sounds that are heard, to the different rhythms or speeds of tempo, to even the silences. The extended layer of this book allows for discussion in how the seasons and all their parts add up to making different parts of a piece of music. 

An Alphabet Pet Parade In Topsy-Turvy Town, Population 26 by Judith E. Torres, illustrated by Christiane Engel (ASHA Press 2021). Young readers are treated to an auditory and visual feast of opposites and alliteration in this story about a young girl who is excited for the annual pet parade in her town and is determined to use it to help her decide which type of pet to get--a choice which packs a surprise by the end. The backmatter includes a visual glossary of the animals that appear in the book sorted by the letters of the alphabet and may inspire young readers to think outside the box in terms of pet selection for themselves. 

Dear Beast
by Dori Hillestad Butler, illustrated by Kevan Attebury (Holiday House 2021). Told in letter format, this story of exchanges between a cat and the new dog of the house allows readers to peek at grammar and not-so-proper grammar being used by the main characters. As a teacher, I've heard other educators say that sometimes the best way to teach kids how to write well is to have them critique improper use by others. Given the loads of humor in this book, proof-reading dog's letters and noting his improvement over time should provide tons of fun, both in the classroom or at home.

Please add other favorite books on today's theme in the comments! 

Happy restful and reading season, everyone! 

Saturday, December 18, 2021

7 Days of Books, Day 4 Social-Emotional Learning (SEL)

7 Days of Books continues with Social-Emotional Learning books today! If you'd like to earn chances to win one of the giveaways, see this post from day one. Either way, please share your own favorite titles on this topic with others in the comments!

It Will Be OK 
by Lisa Katzenberger, illustrated by Jaclyn Sinquett (Sourcebooks 2021). 
A tender story about how worries can be soothed and overcome through the patience and listening of friends. A must-have book that relates to the experiences of so many young readers.

Don't Hug Doug (He Doesn't Like It)
by Carrie Finison, illustrated by Daniel Wiseman (G. P. Putnam's Sons). 
An upbeat book that shows the different ways that people can be greeted during hellos and departed during goodbyes and how feelings of others can be respected and celebrated.

Kindness is a Kite String
by Michelle Schaub, illustrated by Claire LaForte (Cardinal Rule Press). 
A book that shows how kindness spreads in a community in simple, lyrical language involving similes and metaphors that young children can understand. 

The New Kid Has Fleas! by Ame Dyckman, illustrated by Eda Kaban (Roaring Brook Press 2021). 
A story that shows how fabricating falsehoods about a new student can backfire, while also showing kindness and new friendships win out. I especially love the inscription the Ame writes in the copies of this book that she signs. "New kid = New friend!"

My Big Dumb Invisible Dragon by Angie Lucas, illustrated by Birgitta Sif (Sounds True 2019). 
When a boy unexpectedly loses his mother, his grief takes the shape of an invisible dragon that comes and lands on his head and follows him everywhere. As the narrator's grief slowly fades, the dragon does, too. I especially love this tender book for the message it shares -- that you can't see an invisible dragon by looking straight at it, but you can tell if one is there by looking at the person underneath. A must-read for the development and understanding of young friends who are struggling with similar issues.

Sticks and Stones
by Patricia Polacco (Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers 2020). 
This story shares multiple layers in the kindness that shown by a couple of students to the new kid in the classroom combined with the bullying and lack of acceptance shown by others as the three friends navigate the school year, learn about each other and their interests, and eventually triumph over adversity. 

Finding Kindness
by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Irene Chan (Henry Holt 2019). 
A celebration of kindness in its many forms. What I liked most about this book is that illustrations provide unexpected and surprising connections between the giver and receiver of different acts of kindness.

Maybe Tomorrow
 by Charlotte Agell, illustrated by Ana Ramirez Gonzalez (Scholastic Press 2019) is a story of kindness, empathy, and patience as one friend helps another move through the weight of sadness, represented by a block that she takes with her wherever she goes. Through the companionship of a patient and devoted friend, the block loses weight as the story progresses.

Friday, December 17, 2021

7 Days of Books, Day 3 Nature in its many forms

The Night Walk
by Marie Dorleans (Floris Books 2021). Illustrated in navy-blues, black, and spots of yellow and white, this story follows a family on a walk in the middle of the night to a surprise destination. Lyrical, beautiful, and (in my eyes) an instant classic with many starred reviews to show for it.

She Leads, The Elephant Matriarch 
by June Smalls (Familius 2020). This empowering book for young readers follows the elephant matriarch as she leads her herd through events and to resources in Africa. Given the ongoing struggle of elephants, and the fact that they are a favorite animal of mine, I'm drawn to this story and a desire to share it. Be on the lookout for He Leads, Mountain Gorilla, The Gentle Giant, which is coming soon from the same publishing team.

Night Becomes Day, Transitions in Nature
by Cynthia Argentine (Millbrook Press 2021). This absolutely gorgeous book shows a variety of ways that change occurs in nature. The clear and beautiful photographs invite the reader to explore the details, while the text flows and pulses with a rhythm that eases the reader to a deeper understanding of the concepts with lovely, poetic explanations. I imagine this book will be experienced as a visual and auditory feast for young readers and inspire them to get outside and discover their own observations of transformation in the natural world.

Secrets of the Sea. The Story of Jeanne Power, Revolutionary Marine Scientist 
by Evan Griffith, illustrated by Joanie Stone (Clarion Books, 2021). This story of a unique life that was well-lived will inspire young readers to look at the opportunities around them and pursue their interests. The beautiful language and writing of this book will also inspire kids to look deeper at living organisms and show them how to be their own young naturalist! Because so much remains to be learned about our oceans, while at the same time they face massive threats from warming temperatures and pollution, this book instantly won my heart. Read it, share it!

If Bees Disappeared
by Lily Williams (Roaring Brook Press 2021). This eye-opening book is a great companion to others in the series, like If Sharks Disappeared and If Elephants Disappeared. What I love about this book is the connections that it shows for bees to other components of their ecosystems and their importance in our world. This book and the other titles by Lily Williams offer great insights and conversation starters.

What's In Your Pocket? Collecting Nature's Treasures by Heather Montgomery, illustrated by Maribel Luchuga (Charlesbridge 2021). This book with gorgeous illustrations speaks to a child's curiosity in a perfect balance of wonder and inspiration by showing that the smallest discoveries or investigations can lead to a path of success and achievement. There is so much to love about this book--most importantly, that it puts the power of discovery and learning in the hands of a child -- where everything begins! 

Wave by Suzy Lee (Chronicle Books 2008). An Oldie but goodie. In this wordless picture book a girl at the beach takes on the ocean and its teasing waves. This slice of life about a girl overcoming her fears is a delight for the humor that shines in just the right places. A heart-warming surprise seals the ending in knowing that another was enjoying the day as much!

Thursday, December 16, 2021

7 Days of Books, Day 2. Humor - Share the laughter

Welcome to Day 2 of Seven Days of Books. I hope you'll take a chance to win one of three great prizes: a $25 Visa Gift card!, a $Starbuck gift card, and a PB critique! You can find details on how to play along and get chances to win 7 Days of Books, Day 1 .

Today I'm sharing children's books that pack a poke at the funny bone. These are some of my recent favorites, along with an oldie but goodie. When my kids were young, there was nothing better than reading a book together that we could laugh over. 

As you look at the list, what am I missing? Share your favorites in the comments! I can't wait to add them to the list of requests for my local library.

Are You a Cheeseburger?
by Monica Arnaldo (Katherine Tegan Books 2021) When Grub finds Seed in the garbage, friendship forms as the two wait to see if the seed will grow hamburgers. Not only is this book packed with humor, it's full of heart!

Don't Feed the Bear!
by Kathleen Doherty, illustrated by Chip Wass (Sterling Children's Books 2018). In this hilarious show-down and clever war-of-words ensues in the battle for being hand-fed by park visitors! This tale brings to mind the lovable, classic Yogi bear, but spins it to a whole new level by focusing the competition for food to one between Bear and Park Ranger! What a hoot! Definitely add this book to your collection!

Something's Wrong! A Bear, a Hare, and Some Underwear by Jory John, illustrated by Erin Kroan (FSG 2021) After Jeff the bear wakes up and opens a gift from Grandma, he can't figure out what is wrong as he goes about his day. He's not sure what it is until he finds his good friend Anders who finds a clever way to set things right.

On Account of the Gum by Adam Rex (Chronicle Books, 2021) The humor in this book is not only funny, but over-the-top. Yet, at the same time the story is completely relatable. In sum, this is one read not to be missed!

The Missing Pairs
by Yvonne Ivinson (Greenwillow Books 2021).  Humor with homophones (pair/pear) and a reassuring repeated phrase of "Bear knows where to go," keeps this story moving along in anticipation. But is Bear really on track to a resolution? Fans of Fox and the Box will recognize the return of adorable illustration and story elements in this fantastic and fulfilling tale.

Over Bear, Under Where?
by Julie Hedlund, illustrated by Michael Slack (Philomel Books 2021). This clever picture book is full of puns that will keep readers laughing and thinking, and thinking and laughing as their hearts warm as a newfound friendship forms after fears are overcome. A must-have for homes and classrooms.

The Day that Dinosaurs Came with Everything by Elise Broach, illustrated by David Small (Atheneum 2007) A usual day of shopping turns into an unexpected romp when dinosaurs are given away for free at every establishment. Will these out of place creatures find a place to fit in? 

And of course, I'd be silly not to mention my debut Chicken Frank, Dinosaur! illustrated by Jojo Ensslin (Albert Whitman 2021). In this quirky tales with a STEM foundation, Chicken Frank wants to convince his doubting barnyard friends that he is a dinosaur. But when results of a DNA test inspire Frank to hold a reunion with toothy distant relatives, will Frank become a tasty chicken nugget? 

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

7 Days of Books, Day 1 Culture through food and traditions, plus giveaway alert!

I've been meaning to post this series for a while. Since the holidays are upon us and we tend to gather with family and friends around food, I'm super excited to share some special children's books on the topic for Day 1.

In the spirit of the season, I'm adding something new!! A giveaway for the chance for 3 winners to win 1 0f 3 prizes - 

a $25 visa gift card,

a $10 Starbucks gift card, 

and a critique of a PB manuscript from me! 

All you need to do is drop a comment on at least three of the posts over the next 7 days - including the last post for Day 7, share the posts on social media, and then let me know that you did. How do you let me know? Tag me with a link to this blog! I'm @SKWenger on Twitter, @skwenger_books on Instagram, and @SKWengerChildrensAuthor on Facebook.

Each comment/share gets you an entry. Winners will be announced by Dec 28th.

And now for Day 1's dive into books!

Let Me Fix You a Plate, A Tale of Two Kitchens by Elizabeth Lily (Neal Porter Books 2021).

I loved this book for the lyrical quality of the language combined with perfect word choice that wonderfully conveyed the cultural differences between families that gathered in two different kitchens in two different states. Readers are treated to the combined multicultural influences of a father's white roots from rural West Virginia and a mother's Latinx roots from Florida. I wasn't surprised to see this book included in the Publisher's Weekly best books of the year for 2021. It's a winner. Find it, read it, enjoy it, share it!

May Your Life Be Deliciosa 
by Michael Genhart, illustrated by Loris Lora (Harry N. Abrams 2021). 

Take a wonderful journey into the heart of a warm kitchen filled with love as Rosie and her family gather at Christmas to make tamales with abuela. This lyrical picture book earned starred reviews from both Kirkus and Booklist. 

Bella's Recipe for Succes
s by Ana Siqueira, illustrated by Geraldine Rodgriguez (Beaming Books 2021) This story of sticking with something you want to be good at and not giving up until you've met your goal is spot on. Kids will delight in the humor and flow with the Spanish words threaded through the English text. A beat won't be missed, especially with the surprise twist on the last spread. I highly recommend this book for any young reader who is trying something new -- which means . . . all of them!

Watch out for the Chicken Feet in Your Soup
by Tomie De Paola (Simon & Schuster 1985). An oldie but goodie, this picture book is full of voice with Tomie's Italian grandmother shining from the page to page as she makes two boys feel special and makes special bread before dinner. My boys couldn't get enough of this book when they were younger. We read it numerous times at their request, and it wasn't for lack of other books to choose from. I suppose grandmas and wayward chicken feet are big hooks for young readers!

Soul Food Sunday
by Winsome Bingham, illustrated by C. G. Esperanza (Harry N. Abrams 2021). This story not only rolls with voice and rhythm, it will inspire young readers to step into the kitchen to try the macaroni and cheese recipe found in the back of the book! What can be better than time spent reading together followed by time spent cooking together. This was another book on "best" lists for 2021. 

Dumpling Day
by Meera Sriram, illustrated by Ins De Antuano (Barefoot Books 2021) This book combines rhymes, diverse cultures, and counting all in one book as it explores different dumplings from 10 different regions of the world as they are prepared before all gather for a picnic. Inspirational yumminess! 

Spread the love. Please share titles in the comments that fall with today's theme!