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Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge #NFPB2017- May 3, 2017

nfpb2017

Maya Lin: Artist-Architect of Light and LinesMaya Lin: Artist-Architect of Light and Lines by Jeanne Walker Harvey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I don’t know how or when I first heard about Maya Lin but I was excited when I heard about this book. I didn’t realize how young she was when she designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and how much pushback she got. It was fascinating to see how much nature was a big consideration for her designs, making them seem more like a natural art form rather than something obtrusive. Great for any aspiring architects or admirers of architecture.

View all my reviews

 

My Reading Week #IMWAYR- April 30, 2017

I changed the name for my “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?” posts to “My Reading Week.”

This week, I posted:
Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge Wednesday– Read my reviews for Cinco Puntos Press’s First Concepts in Mexican Folk Art series.

The Treasure BoxThe Treasure Box by Margaret Wild
My rating: 4 of 5 stars A beautiful book that takes places during a horrible time- “As war rages, Peter and his father flee their home, taking with them a treasure box that holds something more precious than jewels.”

This is about the power of story and the important of preserving one’s family legacy from generation to generation.

The illustrations are something to savor.
View all my reviews

Shine!Shine! by Patrick McDonnell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The names on the cover will be enough for people to pick up this picture book. Patrick McDonnel tells the story of a starfish who wishes his world was better, brighter, but realizes a change of scenery might not be what he needs after all but a change in how he looks at things. Naoko Stoop’s illustrations is a charming companion to the text.
View all my reviews

The Good for Nothing ButtonThe Good for Nothing Button by Charise Mericle Harper
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
In the third offering in the Elephant & Piggie Like Reading! series, we meet three friends and their different reactions to a button. My words will not bring justice to how fun this book is. I can just picture how many giggling kids there will be when reading this!
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Random Kindness and Senseless Acts of BeautyRandom Kindness and Senseless Acts of Beauty by Anne Herbert
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This modern parable based on Anne Herbert’s famous quote, “Practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty.” includes a foreword from Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

It teaches us that the world is ours and it is up to us to create the world we want. What we put out in the world (peace and respect vs. violence) will result in the kind of world we live in,
View all my reviews

MasterpieceMasterpiece by Elise Broach
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A delightful middle grade novel about a boy who befriends a beetle with a hidden talent. The two unlikely friends soon find themselves in the middle of an art heist. While they may be of different species, they both realize they have things in common.

This would be a perfect family read-aloud (and book club selection) because not only will kids get into the story, the adults may find themselves pondering certain passages themselves. The author throws in some insights on family dynamics and even the not-quite-black-and-white-ness of justice.
View all my reviews

mustreadin2017

Significant OthersSignificant Others by Armistead Maupin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
By far, my least favorite in the Tales of the City series.

Not only has the characters I’ve gotten close to become quite insufferable but there are also new characters I really had no interest in. I understand that they are flawed beings but it’s almost like character assassination the way Armistead Maupin seemed to make them unlikable this go around.

And for some reason, the over the top situations that I delighted in before didn’t work- neither did the “it’s a small world” of it all.

But to be fair, the second half of the book was much better than the first.
View all my reviews

Review Notes
***= Recommended
****= Highly Recommended
*****= Favorite

You can view all the books I’ve read at my Goodreads page.

Thanks also to Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers for their focus on Children’s Literature of this meme!

Thanks also to Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers for their focus on Children’s Literature of this meme!

Please like The Chronicles Of A Children's Book Writer Facebook page!

Please like The Chronicles Of A Children’s Book Writer Facebook page!

If you’re on Twitter, don’t forget to use the hashtag #IMWAYR when sharing your link!

Have a great reading week!

 

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge #NFPB2017- April 26, 2017

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I was immediately drawn to these books when they arrived at the store. With English and Spanish text combined with stunning Mexican folk art, these were great additions to our already pretty rad bilingual board book section. The First Concepts in Mexican Folk Art series are published by Cinco Puntos Press.

In Opuestos, Cynthia Weill teaches readers opposites using wooden animal figures from Oaxacan artists Martín and Quirino Santiago. Very playful.

In ABeCedarios, Cynthia Weill teamed up with K.B. Basseches and Oaxacan brothers and artists Moisés and Armando Jiménez to showcase various and fanciful animals spanning the entire alphabet plus a few extra letters or sounds unique to the Spanish alphabet.

In Animal Talk, Cynthia Weill, with the help of artists Rubi Fuentes and Efrain Broa, offers a fascinating glimpse into how even animal sounds can vary from country to country.

Colores de la Vida is a simple yet stunning primer on colors. The handcrafted artistry will invite readers to linger on each page to admire them.

There’s a parade going on in Count Me In and we count to ten with Cynthia Weill while discovering all the sights and sounds brought to life by The Aguilar Sisters and their ceramic figurines!

 

My Reading Week #IMWAYR- April 23, 2017

I changed the name for my “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?” posts to “My Reading Week.”

This week, I posted:
Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge Wednesday– Read reviews of biographies about Zitkala-Sa and Malala.

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The Goatee that Lived Sustainably by Kyle B. Hart

I’m really super impressed by Kyle B. Hart’s Facial Hair Fables series and the way he partners with nonprofits to donate a portion of his sales for each book. In the third book, a boy learns about sustainable living from the oddest source imaginable- his father’s goatee! Based on the super quirkiness of these books, I would say it has an appeal for adults as well!

Pass It OnPass It On by Sophy Henn
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Catchy illustrations. Peppy message. Happiness is all around us. Seek it and pass it on.
View all my reviews

The Almost Impossible ThingThe Almost Impossible Thing by Basak Agaoglu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A cute book about a bunny wanting to fly. It’s a story of not giving up on one’s dreams, to work towards them despite skeptics and naysaysers and what might be possible with a bit of teamwork!
View all my reviews

Find the DotsFind the Dots by Andy Mansfield
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A surprisingly difficult puzzle of a book. Interactive elements will have readers searching for dots in the fun inventive ways.
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Charlie & Mouse (Charlie & Mouse, #1)Charlie & Mouse by Laurel Snyder
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Fans of Frog and Toad will enjoy the adventures of these two brothers. I wished books one and two in this new series were released together because this one didn’t leave much of an impression on me.
View all my reviews

RodzillaRodzilla by Rob Sanders
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
There’s a creature loose in the city. He’s causing quite a scene. He’s chubby and toothless. He’s Rodzilla! Can anyone calm him down? Anyone with a toddler in their lives will enjoy this hilarious tale!
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Little Wolf's First HowlingLittle Wolf’s First Howling by Laura McGee Kvasnosky
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Big Wolf is teaching Little Wolf the proper ways of howling. But Little Wolf has a wildness in him that he just needs to express. Will Big Wolf and Little Wolf learn to see things eye to eye?

Fun howling story time.
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CatStronauts: Mission MoonCatStronauts: Mission Moon by Drew Brockington
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Cute cat comic. It’s up to the Catstronauts to keep the planet powered up when there’s a sudden power shortage. Will they get to the moon in time? Will a secret stowaway compromise the mission?

Young readers- and cat lovers- will enjoy this new series.
View all my reviews

The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live WellThe Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well by Meik Wiking
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I’m all for happiness and I’m sure living the hygge way will make people happy but a part of me seems like this will be just a fad, popular only because so many have picked up on it at the same time- like Starbuck’s unicorn Frappuccino.

Hygge is basically a sense of comfort with a nod to the alternative. Sipping coffee by the fireplace with friends is hygge but it’s more hygge if there’s a storm brewing outside.

The book (which I listened to as an audio) also includes lists and recipes. I like how it doesn’t take itself too seriously. A quick read like a long magazine.
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mustreadin2017

The Cat Stole My Pants (Timmy Failure, #6)The Cat Stole My Pants by Stephan Pastis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The sixth book is this hilarious series finds Timmy Failure facing lots of changes including a new location (they’re vacationing in Key West) and a new partner (his step-cousin while his polar bear sidekick has defected to Cuba). Plus, he must deal with summer school assignments, hidden treasure, pants-stealing cats, and his dad.

I’m excited at how the next book will tackle all of these changes!
View all my reviews

Review Notes
***= Recommended
****= Highly Recommended
*****= Favorite

You can view all the books I’ve read at my Goodreads page.

Thanks also to Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers for their focus on Children’s Literature of this meme!

Thanks also to Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers for their focus on Children’s Literature of this meme!

Please like The Chronicles Of A Children's Book Writer Facebook page!

Please like The Chronicles Of A Children’s Book Writer Facebook page!

If you’re on Twitter, don’t forget to use the hashtag #IMWAYR when sharing your link!

Have a great reading week!

 

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge #NFPB2017- April 19, 2017

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Red Bird Sings: The Story of Zitkala-Sa, Native American Author, Musician, and ActivistRed Bird Sings: The Story of Zitkala-Sa, Native American Author, Musician, and Activist by Gina Capaldi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was on a display during Women’s History Month at one of my local library branches. I’m glad I picked it up.

Culling from a variety of primary and secondary sources including Zitkala-Sa’s pieces that were featured on The Atlantic Monthly, we follow her life raised on the Yankton Sioux reservation and then sent to a boarding school. It’s interesting to think how much we lose and or give up as a consequence of getting something we want. On one hand, she got the opportunity to an education that wasn’t available to many girls at the time. As a consequence, though, it required assimilation to a culture that wasn’t hers and will never be despite all her successes. In turn, she would be caught in between.

But she used her education and her experiences to become a voice for Native Americans through her works as an author, musician and activist.
View all my reviews

I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World (Young Readers Edition)I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World by Malala Yousafzai
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I just finished listening to the audio book of I Am Malala (Young Reader’s Edition.) And I am inspired by the young girl who only wanted to go to school and who spoke out against those who tried to silence her. I am inspired by the young girl who has become a champion for children’s rights to get an education.

It was eye-opening to read her thoughts on how her piece of paradise turned to a war zone and how the weak and cowardly can prey on people’s fears and insecurities (and twist religious beliefs for personal gain) to gain the upper hand and suppress them. It’s a lesson we practically have to learn over and over again.

The audio book has a prologue and epilogue read by Malala as well her UN speech in full. I may end up listening to the regular audiobook edition as well to see what the difference are.

I appreciated that despite everything happening around her and then everything that’s happened to her she was still a normal girl who still worried about homework and tests, fitting in, and fighting with her brothers.

I hope her story will inspire many others (young and old, male and female) to be activists.

I am also very aware that despite my ups and downs, my frustration of certain situations and my moments of overwhelming gratitude, and my many rants or raves depending on what has transpired that day, that I am a lucky guy surrounded by great people and offered many opportunities if I only choose to take them.

I am inspired by my family and friends who are everyday heroes because we all know how difficult it is to try and make ends meet. And yet they do.

They also try to make the world a better, more loving, place for others. They fight. They resists. They persists. Because they know this world- and all the beauty it has to offer- is not just for a select privileged few but for every one.
View all my reviews

I did listen to a few chapters of the regular edition of I Am Malala(co-written by Christina Lamb) but it just seemed false the way so much historical information was presented while all the time using a first-person narrative. It sounded like a report by some older, more experienced scholar. I did appreciate more details about her family background but I wish they presented it in a different way. I would have been fine if it was Christina Lamb’s research interspersed (or even just bookended) by Malala’s personal voice and experienced.

 

My Reading Week #IMWAYR- April 16, 2017

I changed the name for my “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?” posts to “My Reading Week.”

This week, I posted:

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge Wednesday

Celebrate This Week

Olivia the SpyOlivia the Spy by Ian Falconer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I love Olivia and was very excited to hear there was finally a new picture book coming out. It was a much welcome return. With this latest installment, the series continues to be a charming must-read and must-have for any child’s library!
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This Is Not A BookThis Is Not A Book by Jean Jullien
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
(I thought I had written a review for this already! Oh, well!)

This innovative board book will be enjoyed by both kids and adults as they flip the pages and discover all the things what they hold in their hands can be!

My favorite one is when it’s a tent. There’s a quite cheeky page that I didn’t think the young ones would get but they do.
View all my reviews

Before & AfterBefore & After by Jean Julien
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I really enjoyed Jean Julien’s This is Not a Book. And Before & After doesn’t disappoint as it continues to be a funny and creative board book as well. Pair this with another recent release, My Pictures After the Storm.
View all my reviews

The Book of MistakesThe Book of Mistakes by Corinna Luyken
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This will make any reader- young or old- fall in love with picture books. In fact, I would suggest adults buy this for themselves even if they don’t have kids.

Fans of Barney Saltzberg’s Beautiful Oops! and Kobi Yamada’s What Do You Do With an Idea? will be quite taken by Corinna Luyken’s The Book of Mistakes.

The story starts off with a mistake but, instead of giving up or starting over, the story embraces its mistake. And it leads to unexpected discoveries, more mistakes, and well… you’ve got to read it for yourself.

The illustrations is truly a piece of art and that’s why this is one of my picks to win a Caldecott!
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BE QUIET!BE QUIET! by Ryan T. Higgins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Fun and funny take on a wordless picture book gone wrong.
View all my reviews

You and Me, Me and YouYou and Me, Me and You by Miguel Tanco
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Super sweet take on the parent-child dynamic and what each gives to the other. Perfect for Father’s Day.

(It’s a shame that there isn’t a picture book that can depict this bond without it being specific based on gender or drawn using animals as characters.)
View all my reviews

Passing the Music DownPassing the Music Down by Sarah Sullivan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
A great intergenerational tale of musical traditions based on a true story. I can’t see this having a wide appeal but I’m glad I read this since I didn’t know anything about this Appalachian pastime. It’s comforting to know that these things are cherished and are getting passed down because so much history is on the line.
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Ketzel, the Cat Who ComposedKetzel, the Cat Who Composed by Lesléa Newman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Inspired a true story of a musician who found a cat that helped him compose a song. Sweet tale for music and animal lovers that hits the right notes about friendship and creativity.
View all my reviews

Max and BirdMax and Bird by Ed Vere

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Max the kitten is back and faces his biggest problem yet. He wants a friend and he’s hungry so when he meets Bird (a bird), he sure has a dilemma. Will Max eat his new friend or will he help Bird who has his own problem?

View all my reviews

Boo!Boo! by Ben Newman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
A cute if not a bit predictable story about a group of animals out to prove they are the bravest. This would be great for story time.
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Yes PleaseYes Please by Amy Poehler
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
First of all, I have to say I’m so glad I got a new phone- and an unlimited data plan- because now I can listen to audiobooks again when I go on my walks. (Portland just needs to make sure it remembers it’s spring and we could use some sun!)

I love Leslie Knope from “Parks and Recreation” and the character is a lot like the actress who plays her. Amy Poehler just seems to encourage girl power and teamwork in a positive and kind way. Even the title denotes that- Yes Please.

The book is biography (her childhood, her career in comedy) and bits (Plastic Surgery Haiku, My Books on Divorce). While I missed out on pictures listening to the audio book, it was a great production (with special guests Kathleen Turner and Seth Meyers) including a live improv reading of the last chapter. If you’ve read and enjoyed the physical book, listen to the audio book for a different experience!
View all my reviews

mustreadin2017

Babycakes (Tales of the City, #4)Babycakes by Armistead Maupin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The gang’s back and as dysfunctional as ever. Times are changing as characters face the lost of a loved one, an uncertain future, and the arrival of the Queen of England.

I listened to this on audio book and its short chapters and soap opera plots makes it great for taking longer walks just to see what happens next.

Not as tight as previous installments- relying too much on coincidences and convenient happenings- but nevertheless enjoyable.
View all my reviews

One, Two, Buckle My Shoe (Hercule Poirot, #22)One, Two, Buckle My Shoe by Agatha Christie
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
[Agatha Christie Reading Challenge]
[Off the Shelf Reading Challenge]
View all my reviews

Review Notes
***= Recommended
****= Highly Recommended
*****= Favorite

You can view all the books I’ve read at my Goodreads page.

Thanks also to Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers for their focus on Children’s Literature of this meme!

Thanks also to Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers for their focus on Children’s Literature of this meme!

Please like The Chronicles Of A Children's Book Writer Facebook page!

Please like The Chronicles Of A Children’s Book Writer Facebook page!

If you’re on Twitter, don’t forget to use the hashtag #IMWAYR when sharing your link!

Have a great reading week!

 

#CelebrateLU- April 14, 2017

Thanks to Ruth Ayers of Discover. Play. Build. for creating this meme!

Thanks to Ruth Ayers of Discover. Play. Build. for creating this meme!

This week I’m celebrating a couple of posts I’d been meaning to write- my Reading Resolutions Spring Update and my Children’s Institute Wrap-Up.

mustreadin2017

First up, it’s the my Reading Resolutions Spring Update.

My Reading Snapshot
176 Books Read (So Far) in 2017
11 Adult Fiction
2 Adult Non-Fiction
22 Graphic Novels
14 Middle Readers
126 Picture Books
1 Young Adult

Even though my Must Read in 2017 list is still an ever-changing monster, I would say I’ve completed about a quarter of it so I’m not worried.

I’ve read about 39 Nonfiction Picture Books already. My goal is 104. Three titles that have stood out were:
Keith Haring: The Boy Who Just Kept Drawing by Kay Haring
Grand Canyon by Jason Chin
John Ronald’s Dragons: The Story of J. R. R. Tolkien by Caroline McAlister

Some reading and literary events I attended as well as what I did for my Commitment to Literacy:
-I visited the new location for Microcosm Publishing. I didn’t even realize they had moved. I was just walking around before my volunteer shift at the library and all of a sudden I saw it!

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-I attended a Pageturners Book Group to discuss Evicted by Matthew Desmond.
-I got to don the Very Hungry Caterpillar costume again. It was fun!

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-I continue to volunteer with the Multnomah County Library helping out with their Every Child initiative.

-I was able to volunteer again with The Children’s Book Bank in a couple new ways. First, Portland has the first ever non-profit brew pub. They choose six different nonprofits twice a year and the CBB was one of them. I was a server for a few four-hour shifts bringing people’s food to them and talking about the CBB to let them know more about where some of their money was going to. Then, on Dr. Seuss’s birthday, the CBB held an open house at their beautiful spacious new location. I was there as a greeter. It was a very positive uplifting night seeing familiar and new faces, all with a love of reading and wanting to give the gift of literacy to everyone.

-Earlier this week, I also got to volunteer again at Write Around Portland. They go to different facilities where the participants end up writing stories and poems which then get printed. (I was part of a Selection Committee to help choose which of their works get published.) There’s also a reading where the writers read their pieces in front of an audience cheering them on. Seeing them sharing their stories is powerful and moving.

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Second, I attended the American Booksellers Association Children’s Institute last week. A lot has been going on since then and there was a lot to process so I wanted time to kind of reflect on it. But no matter how long I wait to write about it, it remains a highlight.

This year, it was held in Portland, Oregon. Green Bean Books was part of a couple of bookstore tours. It was kind of nerve-wracking to think what other booksellers might think of the store but, fortunately, everyone seemed to love it! I felt like a proud father every time someone walked up to me and raved about it because my boss truly created something magical and I’m glad people realized that!

It was two days of educational sessions and learning about upcoming great titles we’re looking forward to selling. Some memorable speakers included Jason Reynolds whose ode to Queen Latifah was pure genius; Marley Dias, wise beyond her tween-age years, who launched #1000blackgirlbooks; and Erin and Philip Stead who shared details about their upcoming work Mark Twain’s The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine. I was a huge fan of their work but I developed a greater sense of appreciation for them.

And, people may not know this little known fact but book people know how to throw a party. Here I am at a Scholastic party with Dog Man and Captain Underpants!

scholastic

I would say the opportunity to be around other booksellers and book industry people and just book lovers in general was the ultimate highlight for me.

What are you celebrating this week?