Children’s Books for Earth Day: One Child, One Planet

Children's Books for Earth Day, One Child One Planet, by Carl R. Sams II and Jean Stoick, cover artTitle: One Child, One Planet: Inspiration for the Young ConservationistChildren's Books for Earth Day, One Child One Planet, by Carl R. Sams II and Jean Stoick
Author: Bridget McGovern Llewellyn
Photographs: Carl R. Sams II and Jean Stoick
Age Category: 3 to 5 years +
Genre: Picture Books

Children’s Books for Earth Day

One Child, One PlanetChildren's Books for Earth Day, One Child One Planet, by Carl R. Sams II and Jean Stoick is an attractive children’s book for earth day that conveys the message and importance of resource conservation to children aged three-to-eight-years-old.  The book conveys this message via loosely rhyming verse and photographs of children and animals interacting with stunning natural landscapes and habitats.

This children’s book for earth day begins by briefly describing the earth and the trouble it faces due to global warming, and then focuses on what people—and especially children—can do to help counter global warming via conservation.  Specifically, the book points to familiar practices such as reducing the consumption of water, planting trees, conserving electricity, recycling, reducing the use of electronic devices, and generally squashing greedy consumer habits. Continue reading


The Egg Tree, by Katherine Milhous: Easter Picture Books

The Egg Tree by Katherine MilhousThe Egg Tree by Katherine MilhousTitle: The Egg TreeThe Egg Tree by Katherine Milhous
Author: Katherine Milhous
Age Category: 3 to 5 years +
Genre: Easter picture books

Easter is coming, and so I’ve been planning to review some Easter picture books.  However, when I started looking around online and in the library for good titles, it seemed there really weren’t that many.  Either I found a lot of “cute” but shallow books about eggs and bunnies—which I liken to marshmallow Peeps: sweet but not very nourishingThe Egg Tree by Katherine Milhous—or I found illustrated versions of the New Testament text.  Now, don’t get me wrong: marshmallow Peeps and the New Testament have their place; my kids will likely get a dose of both this Easter.  However, in my view, neither make for particularly good picture books.

Now, thankfully there are a few good picture books for Easter out there, two of which I’ll share with you in this and the next post.  The first one—1951 Caldecott Medal winner The Egg TreeThe Egg Tree by Katherine Milhous by Katherine Milhous—is only loosely connected with the biblical Easter tradition, as I will describe.  In the next post I will review Petook: An Easter StoryPetook: An Easter Story, by Tomie dePaola by Caryll Houselander and Tomie dePaola, which has a more direct connection with the traditional Easter story.

The Egg Tree, by Katherine Milhous: Summary

The Egg TreeThe Egg Tree by Katherine Milhous by Katherine Milhous is set in the Red Hills of Pennsylvania, in a rural Pennsylvania Dutch community.  The picture book opens with two young children—Katy and Carl—spending their first Easter on their grandmother’s farm, along with four of their cousins.  The children wake up early for an Easter egg hunt, but Katy can’t seem to find any eggs in her unfamiliar surroundings.  Feeling discouraged, she makes her way up into the attic and, to her surprise, Continue reading


When You Reach Me: Summary and Review

When You Reach Me by Rebecca SteadWhen You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
Title: When You Reach MeWhen You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
Author: Rebecca Stead
Age Category: 9 to 12 years +
Genre: Middle-grade Fiction

When You Reach Me: Summary

Miranda—the protagonist of the 2010 Newbery Medal-winning juvenile fiction book When You Reach MeWhen You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead—is a twelve-year-old latchkey kid living with her single mom in New York City in the 1970s. She’s smart, she’s funny, and she reads only one book: A Wrinkle in TimeA Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle by Madeleine L’Engle.  Her mother—a would-be lawyer with a keen sense of justice—was forced to drop out of law school when she had Miranda. Now she works unhappily as a paralegal and dreams of winning the game show The $20,000 Pyramid so she can quit her job.

Miranda has lost her best friend, Sal, who lives in her apartment building. One day, while the two of them were walking home from school, a neighborhood kid named Marcus punched Sal, and from that day on Continue reading


The Lion and the Mouse, Caldecott Medal Winner

picture books the lion and the mouse caldecott medal Jerry Pinkney
Title: The Lion & the Mousepicture books the lion and the mouse caldecott medal Jerry Pinkney
Author: Jerry Pinkney
Age Category: 3 to 5 years +
Genre: Picture Books

The Lion and the Mouse Book

Jerry Pinkney’s 2010 Caldecott Medal-winning picture book, The Lion & the Mouse,picture books the lion and the mouse caldecott medal Jerry Pinkney is a retelling—or, rather a re-showing—of Aesop’s traditional fable by the same name.

As the story is traditionally told, a mouse is caught by a lion and pleads for her life by arguing that one day the lion might need her help. Although the lion scoffs at the thought that a tiny mouse could ever help such a mighty beast as a lion, he releases the mouse. However, the lion subsequently gets caught in a hunter’s net, and the mouse—hearing the lion’s distressed roar—ends up freeing the lion by nibbling a hole in the net. The traditional moral: “Little friends may prove great friends.” Traditionally, then, the story is meant to embolden the meek (“You may be a great friend one day!”) and to encourage the proud to look out for the little guy.

However, in Pinkney’s picture book, the moral is not so tightly constrained, largely because the only words Pinkney uses are onomatopoeias—i.e., words that Continue reading


Children’s Books on Martin Luther King Jr: I Have A Dream

children's books I have a dream speech martin luther king jrchildren's books I have a dream speech martin luther king jr
Title: I Have A Dreamchildren's books I have a dream speech martin luther king jr
Author: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Foreword: Coretta Scott King
Age Category: 9 to 12 years +
Genre: Picture Books
Our Rating (out of 5): children's books I have a dream speech martin luther king jr

This post is a review of the second of two books I recommend for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.  Click here for “Children’s Books for Martin Luther King Jr. Day: Martin’s Big Words, my review of the first book.

I Have a Dream Speech: Martin Luther King Jr.

The idea behind this children’s book is simple: publish the text of Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech—delivered in the 1963 March on Washington—accompanied by illustrations by fifteen African-American artists whose work has featured in children’s books that have received the Coretta Scott King Award or Honor.  The result is a moving and beautiful remembrance of this historic moment in the American story, a worthy tribute to the visionary Dr. King who delivered the speech, and a powerful call to renew the work of forgiveness, justice, and love that Dr. King pushed forward so forcefully in his day.

I Have a Dream: Subjective Appeal

Two things will draw young readers to I Have A Dream.  At the top of the list, of course, is the power of Dr. King’s words.  At least three things moved me in re-reading these amazing words.  First, King’s laser focus on Continue reading


Clap Hands, by Helen Oxenbury

Board Books, Clap Hands Helen Oxenbury
Title: Clap Hands
Author: Helen Oxenbury
Age Category: Infant to 2 years
Genre: Baby Board Books

Helen Oxenbury: Clap Hands

Clap Hands—one of Helen Oxenbury’s beloved board books—is a simple tribute to activities that young children delight in.  The words of the board book are as follows:

“Clap hands, dance and spin;
Open wide, pop it in;
Blow a trumpet, bang a drum;
Wave to daddy, wave to mum.” Continue reading


Bad Children’s Books: The Adventures of Captain Underpants

Bad Children's Books
Title: The Adventures of Captain UnderpantsBad Children's Books
Author: Dav Pilkey
Age Category: 6 to 8 years
Genre: Juvenile fiction
Our Rating (out of 5):

George Beard and Harold Hutchins, the main characters of The Adventures of Captain Underpants, are pranksters of the first order.  In this installment of Pilkey’s Captain Underpants series, George and Harold pull an outrageous set of pranks at their elementary school football game.  However, unbeknown to them their mean principal Mr. Krupp has caught all of their antics on videotape and he proceeds to use the tape to blackmail them into behaving well in school and serving his every whim.

After a few days of following Mr. Krupp’s rules, the boys remember a comic-book advertisement for a “3-D Hypno-Ring” that will allow them to hypnotize Mr. Krupp and lay hands on the incriminating videotape.  George and Harold follow through with their plan, and in the process have some fun with Mr. Krupp, making him believe Continue reading


The Invention of Hugo Cabret, by Brian Selznick

Juvenile Fiction The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
Title: The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Author: Brian Selznick
Age Category: 9 to 12 years +
Genre:  Picture Book

The Invention of Hugo Cabret: Summary

Brian Selznick’s 2008 Caldecott Medal winning book, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, introduces Hugo Cabret, an orphan boy who secretly maintains the clocks at a Paris railway station. Hugo’s father—once an horologist—died in a fire while repairing an automaton, a highly complex machine designed to look and to write like a human being. Hugo has salvaged the remains of the automaton, now hidden in Hugo’s room in the walls of the train station, and he steals mechanical parts in his attempt to finish his father’s project of restoring it. Hugo is convinced that, once restored, the automaton will convey a message to him from his deceased father.

However, when Hugo’s path intersects with Isabelle, another orphan, and her godfather Papa Georges—the toymaker in the railway station from whom Hugo has been stealing parts for the automaton—Hugo’s plan to restore the automaton yields unexpected results. The restored automaton indeed has a kind of message from Hugo’s father, but it turns out the message is also connected to Papa Georges. As the mysterious story unfolds, Hugo is slowly transformed Continue reading