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Reviews of Bye-Bye Binky and I Use the Potty

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Bye-Bye Binky [Big Kid Power] by Maria van Lieshout; 
illus. by the author Preschool    Chronicle    24 pp. 3/16    978-1-4521-3536-6    9.99 I Use the Potty [Big Kid Power] by Maria van Lieshout; 
illus. by the author Preschool    Chronicle    24 pp. 3/16    978-1-4521-3535-9    $9.99 In the Leslie Patricelli preschool-book mold (Potty, rev. 1/11, and many others), these […]

Picture books and early readers | class #2, 2016

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Now that our first class is done, we can move on to some in-depth reading and discussing. Last week we got our feet wet with two picture books, one a classic and the other a wordless exploration of culture. For our second class on March 31, we will read two more picture books, two easy […]

Review of Chuck and Woodchuck

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Chuck and Woodchuck by Cece Bell; illus. by the author Primary   Candlewick   32 pp. 3/16   978-0-7636-7524-0   $15.99   g New friendships can be forged in many ways; in this case it’s a woodchuck at school for show-and-tell bringing together a shy first-grader named Chuck and his classmate Caroline (both human). Caroline, the narrator, describes the ways […]

Children’s lit class starts this week

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The first day of my children’s lit class at Harvard Ed School will be this Thursday, March 24. Once again, we are hoping you will all help us discuss our readings here on the blog. The students will be required to post comments (short ones, I hope!) and the more comments we can get from […]

Where the Wild Things Are | Class #1 2016

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For our first class this year, we are again reading Where the Wild Things Are, a picture book that is now a classic, but was controversial in its day. Every year there are a handful of students who have never read this book. For those who know it well, I’m interested in hearing whether you […]

Field Notes: Escaping Series Mania

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Last spring I worked, temporarily, as a school librarian, a position I hadn’t held since Reagan was president. There were lots of adjustments, some easier than others. But the biggest surprise of all was that in this elementary school in an affluent suburb in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex, almost every child was really reading, with […]

Review of Surf’s Up

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Surf’s Up by Kwame Alexander; 
illus. by Daniel Miyares Primary    North-South    32 pp. 2/16    978-0-7358-4220-5    $17.95    g Alexander follows up his poignant 2015 Newbery-winning middle-grade verse novel The Crossover (rev. 5/14) with…a picture book starring two frogs, one a surfer dude, the other a bookworm. “SURF’S UP, BRO!” calls the first frog to his bud. […]

Five questions for Laura Dronzek

DronzekLaura credit Kevin Henkes

Laura Dronzek’s color-drenched illustrations for When Spring Comes (Greenwillow, 2–4 years) bring husband Kevin Henkes’s poetic text into full bloom. Looking at her lively renderings of rain-soaked earth, flowering trees, baby animals, and other springtime delights, it’s easy to see Dronzek’s fine-arts background; her saturated acrylic paintings feature many similar subjects. In fact, her paintings […]

Let’s hear it for spring

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Winter is almost over! Time to head outdoors. Four very different picture books take readers outside, whether it’s on a working farm, in an imaginary tree fort, for a day out with two best friends (one is a bulldog), or going up on a mountaintop in search of a lost kite. On the Farm, at […]

Review of When Spring Comes

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When Spring Comes by Kevin Henkes; 
illus. by Laura Dronzek Preschool   Greenwillow   40 pp. 2/16   978-0-06-233139-7   $17.99 Library ed. 978-0-06-233140-3   $18.89 “Before Spring comes, / the trees look like / black sticks against the sky. // But if you wait, / Spring will bring / leaves and blossoms.” In a gently rhythmic text and lush, […]