Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Just Say BOO! by Susan Hood helps kids conquer Halloween fears

The Halloween costumes are ready for a night of trick-or-treating.  My daughter is dressing up as a Prairie Girl and my son's costume is a Bald Eagle (both hand sewn by me with a little help from my mom).  I'm a big fan of homemade costumes because I think they make Halloween just a little more personal and special.

One of my absolute favorite things about Halloween is seeing all the creative costumes. And one of the best things about children's Halloween picture books is the varied illustrations of creative costumes!  But sometimes those costumes and the outdoor sights and sounds can be a little too scary ... then what?

        Just Say BOO!

Jed Henry's fantastic watercolor illustrations in the new Halloween book Just Say Boo! show trick-or-treaters dressed as a bat, shark, witch and more, posed and ready to say "BOO!" to ward off everything scary. Spooky ghost decorations, howling wind in the trees, grim jack-o'lanterns -- kids can make them all less frightening by shouting BOO!  Henry's charming illustrations, combined with Susan Hood's playful text, show young children how to dispel their Halloween fears by making trick-or-treat time fun and silly. The call and answer format of the text makes the book a lively read-aloud and elicits numerous shouts of "BOO!"

"If the ghosts in the trees wibble-wobble your knees, what do you say?  .... BOO!"

Best part of all (and something all parents will appreciate), Hood doesn't stop with just BOO. With a little prompt, she reminds kids that there are other things to say on Halloween, too, like the polite and ever important word, THANK YOU!
Going trick-or-treating tonight?  This is the perfect book to read beforehand.
Just Say Boo! by Susan Hood, illustrated by Jed Henry.  HarperCollins Children's Books (July 2012); ISBN 9780062010292; 32 pages
Book Source: Review copy provided by publisher

Related links:
Susan Hood - Author Website
Jed Henry - Illustrator Website
Just Say Boo! Printable Halloween Cards and Masks

I am an Amazon affiliate and may receive a very small commission for products purchased through my Amazon links. (View my full disclosure statement for more information about my reviews.) 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Ghosts in the House! by Kazuno Kohara - Easy, Last Minute Ghost Halloween Window Decorations

If there's something strange in your neighborhood, who ya gonna call?  GHOSTBUSTERS - right? Maybe not, if there's a certain ghost-catching little girl who lives nearby.

Ghosts in the House, a cute picture book my kids love to read every Halloween, introduces a little girl who is the ULTIMATE Ghostbuster.  She moves into a house filled with ghosts but remains unfazed because she knows exactly how to catch ghosts.  With help from her black cat friend she puts her bewitching skills to work. And after she catches all the ghosts she puts them into her washing machine!

Kazuno Kohara published this bright orange book only a few years ago in 2008, but the story deserves recognition as a classic Halloween tale. Perfect for preschoolers and early elementary kids, it's sure to remain a Halloween favorite of young kids for many years to come.  The ghosts in the book aren't scary at all, and the amusing storyline elicits a few giggles with each reading.  Best of all are the unique linocut illustrations.  Using a limited palette of orange and black, Kohara creates bold, cleanly designed haunted house images.  She superimposes white see-through ghosts over the orange background and black lines. The effect is stunning -- the ghosts look like magical tissue paper apparitions!
Ghosts in the House! by Kazuno Kohara.  Roaring Brook Press / Macmillan (August 2008); ISBN 9781596434271; 32 pages
Book Source: Copy from our personal library

Ghost Window Craft

The kids liked the idea of having a house filled with friendly ghosts, so we made a few translucent ghosts for our window out of freezer paper. Our ghosts look exactly like the ghost waving out of the window of the house on the front cover of Ghosts in the House (you can sort of see the window grid pattern through our ghosts, too). The freezer paper ghosts are a cheap and easy last minute Halloween decoration that the kids can help with. We colored in the eyes and mouth with a black permanent marker. Now our house is haunted but with cute ghosts, not spooky ones!

I wasn't the first to come up with this fabulous Halloween decorating idea -- I saw it on ... where else? ... a Pinterest pin from My Material Life.

I am an Amazon affiliate and may receive a very small commission for products purchased through my Amazon links. (View my full disclosure statement for more information about my reviews.) 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

October Carnival of Children's Literature 2012

Welcome to the October Carnival of Children's Literature!  What's brewing in the blog world of children's books?  The cauldron is bubbling over!  Read on to find oodles of books and posts on a multitude of topics.

For those not familiar with the Carnival of Children's Literature, it is a monthly round-up of submitted blog posts about children's literature.  The carnival is hosted at a different blog every month.  Find out more and/or participate in the carnival at Anastasia Suen's Booktalking.

Wondering about the cute cauldron pictured over to the right? -- It contains my family's collection of Halloween books.  I borrowed the book cauldron idea from Obseussed after seeing it on Pinterest 

Beware! BOOks
Since it's the spooky time of the year, let's start off the Carnival with:

Halloween themed books

The Picture Book Review introduces the picture book, Asiago by Adam McHeffey.
Tiffa, a fellow stay-at-home mom recently enjoyed the book with her son and says, "Asiago is a great book for young children.  It has a vampire theme that will mesh well with Halloween without being all about Halloween.  This book deserves more attention and more readers."  

Storied Cities recommends a picture book she discovered by accident, The Trip by Ezra Jack Keats.
According to Erica, "This is one of the few Halloween picture books with an urban setting. It's also one of Keats' lesser known titles (or so I believe)."

The Adventures in Writing & Publishing featured a series of posts in October called 13 Lucky Days of Halloween Reviews. There's a wide assortment of spooky, fun books for a range of ages. One of Lisa's posts is about a non-fiction book by Capstone Press, How to Carve Freakishly Cool Pumpkins by Sarah L. Schuette.

The Cath in the Hat reminds us that Halloween is just around the corner with her review of an enticing short chapter book (also a CYBILS nominee), Maybelle and the Haunted Cupcake by Katie Speck, illustrated by Paul Ratz de Tagyos. 

Early Literacy/Picture Books

Monkey Poop is back to blogging with a review of Ugly Fish by Kara LeReau; illustrated by Scott Magoon. It's a "kooky picture book" that her 2.5 year old finds hilarious.

Flowering Minds offers a must-read for inquisitive minds -- The Great Paper Caper by Oliver Jeffers. Darshana says this picture book is, "a quirky, imaginative introduction to the “whodunit” genre for young readers with a message of conservation, recycling, and forgiveness."

Stacey Localzo changed her mind about books containing speech bubbles after reading a book perfect for early readers or a reader who has yet to discover they love reading -- A Trip to the Bottom of the World with Mouse by Frank Viva. "The simple text, picture support and graphic style all make for a winning selection."

True Tales & a Cherry on Top reviews Magritte's Marvelous HAT by D. B. Johnson.  Jeanne comments, "The book is inspired by a real person -- the surrealist artist Rene Magritte and the author imagines Rene Magritte as a dog in his surreal world. Author, D.B. Johnson says, 'You try on a hat that floats in the air and leads you to a place where anything is possible and everything is impossible.' And how impossibly wonderful is that?!"

NC Teacher Stuff reviews a neat-looking new book, Infinity and Me by Kate Hosford; illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska. Jeff sums it up -- "Infinity and Me is a terrific fiction picture book about a girl who ponders the concept of infinity. The text and the artwork will help students better understand this concept."

Brimful Curiosities introduces a fantastic robot book, BOY + BOT by Ame Dyckman; illustrated by Dan Yaccarino. "Simply and perfectly told with bold, eye-pleasing illustrations, this is quite possibly the best robot picture book we've ever read (and believe me, we've read several)." Plus, Janelle and son show off their stellar robot building skills by constructing a BOT out of LEGOs.
Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources provides a list of 25 Must-Have Books for Preschooler Bookworms.  Her list includes many favorites including Go Away, Big Green Monster, Harold and the Purple Crayon, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and some more unusual recommendations like Light Up the Night (a book my own preschooler enjoyed this summer). 

Horribly Humorous History for Kids presents an intriguing post this month discussing 19th century alphabet books for kids. "ABC books can be a snapshot of the kinds of pictureable objects that would have been familiar to kids in times past, and some of the pictured objects are, well, shocking to our modern eye." Sarah's post titled, N is for Nylghau, also shows how ABC authors handled the letter X, in the era before X rays were invented.


Wrapped in Foil shares a book for little architects -- Dreaming Up: A Celebration of Building by Christy Hale. This is a new, nonfiction picture book that "pairs illustrations of children building with common materials and an intriguing shape poem about the process with amazing photographs of actual structures from around the world."  

SimplyScience Blog reviews Ocean Sunlight: How Tiny Plants Feed the Seas by Molly Bang and Penny Chisholm, a "lovely book explains ocean food chains and the source of energy that runs them--phytoplankton."

Chapter Books / Middle Grade / Fiction

Playing by the Book shares a modern-day fairy story, Operation Bunny by Sally Gardner, illustrated by David Roberts. Zoe writes, "Operation Bunny is a beautifully written and very funny book for fluent young readers about fairies, detectives and a talking cat. We also made our own miniature fairy wings to go with the story."
Literary Lunchbox is a panelist for the CYBILS, and she is enjoying judging middle grade fiction, her greatest literary love.  Ali reviews three "well-written and wonderfully readable books." [The Five Lives of Our Cat Zook by Joanne Rocklin, The Humming Room by Ellen Potter and The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine]

Shelf-employed reviews a middle-grade graphic novel, Drama by Raina Telgemeier. The book is "written in “acts” rather than chapters" and "Telgemeier breaks new ground in introducing gay characters to a novel for younger readers (ages 10 and up)."

Book Aunt's entry is about the "Super Middle Grade" with reviews of four recent middle grade books about secret societies, super powers, conspiracies, and super villains.  [Capture the Flag by Kate Messner; Geeks, Girls, and Secret Identities by Mike Jung, The Cloak Society by Jeremy Kraatz and The Secret Prophecy by Herbie Brennan]

Geo Librarian reviews an amusing and touching middle grade book,  Ungifted by Gordon Korman. The author "demonstrates that while not all students have academic talents, everyone has something to add to the school environment."

Boys Rule Boys Read! shares some good fiction about the early days of baseball. [Bill Penant, Babe Ruth, and Me by Timothy Tocher; Mudville by Kurtis Scaletta; Lucky: Maris, Mantle and My Best Year Ever by Wes Tooke; and the Sluggers series by Phil Bilden and Loren Long]

Yellow Brick Reads reviews Philip Pullman's much-anticipated adaptation, Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm: A New English Version. To mark the 200th anniversary of the publication of Children's and Household Tales by the Brothers Grimm, Pullman has rewritten 50 out of the original 211 tales. 

Teens/Young Adult

Great Kid Books reviews Every Day by David Levithan.  Mary Ann writes, "I was absolutely fascinated by David Levithan's new book EVERY DAY. It raises questions about identity, memory, relationships in a way that will appeal to teens. I call this realistic fantasy - it is definitely fantasy, but one that will appeal to teens who like realistic fiction."

No Water River welcomes everyone to Poet-a-Palooza. Join in a celebration of the publication of Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong's important classroom poetry resource, The Poetry Friday Anthology. The post includes an interview with Janet and Sylvia as well as poetry videos by Jane Yolen, Ken Slesarik, Stephanie Calmenson, and Michael J. Rosen.

Book Projects

Teaching Authors -- April Halprin Wayland, talks about her struggles finishing a novel she's been working on for 14 years. She also shares her related original poem, "Patience."


Barbies on Fire interviews children's book author Darcy Pattison and reviews her latest book, Desert Baths. "The book explores the unusual bathing rituals of many animals living in the American Southwest.  It's a great book filled with continuing education resources for those curious about desert critters."

Booktalking goes behind the scenes and talks to Margaret Quinlin, editor (and publisher) of Carmen Agra Deedy's lastest book, Return of the Library Dragon.

Picture Books & Pirouettes interviews picture book author Sarah Lynn. The interview highlights Lynn's publications experiences, which range from iPhone Apps to traditionally published books, and offers advice for aspiring authors. Sarah Lynn's newest book is 1-2-3 Va-Va-Vroom! A Counting Book.

The November edition of Carnival of Children's Literature will be posted at There’s A Book  
Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, October 12, 2012

BOY + BOT by Ame Dyckman Book Review - Make Your own LEGO Bot Character

I've traipsed through many a wood and have collected my share of pinecones, but never, never on any of my adventures have I come across a friendly, mechanized, working robot.  I must be walking through the wrong kind of woods, because in Ame Dyckman's picture book world this scenario is entirely possible.

Simply and perfectly told with bold, eye-pleasing illustrations by robot-lover Dan Yaccarino, Boy + Bot is quite possibly the best robot picture book we've ever read (and believe me, we've read several).  The story-line goes like this: Boy walks through the woods.  Boy meets a big, red robot.  Boy and robot problem-solve. Robot and boy become BFF.  Now obviously there's more to it than that, like for instance both boy and bot have similar "misunderstood malfunctions" and need fixing, but to say any more would spoil the fun.  Read the robot parts aloud in your best robot voice. Remark on all the fun things the robot and boy do together like swimming, apple-picking and rock-skipping.  And remember, little boys do not need oiling, and never, ever feed your robot applesauce.

This book deservedly received starred review from Kirkus, Booklist, and Publishers Weekly. Take our word for it (and theirs), if you have a young, robot-loving child, BOY + BOT is for them and worth purchasing.

Fun fact: If you look closely at the illustrations in BOY + BOT you'll discover one of Yaccarino's creative additions to the story -- a light-bulb shaped, one-eyed robot that Ame Dyckman calls "Watt."  Not surprisingly, illustrator Dan Yaccarino has a self-described "slight penchant for robots."  He is also the author/illustrator of another robot picture book, If I Had a Robot, a story about a boy who dreams about all the things he could or wouldn't have to do if he had a robot.  His robot illustrations have a retro, vintage look reminiscent of those tin wind-up robot toys from the past. 

Related links: 
Ame Dyckman - Author Website 
Dan Yaccarino - Illustrator Website
Boy + Bot by Ame Dyckman, illustrated by Dan Yaccarino.  Alfred A. Knopf / Random House (April 2012); ISBN 9780375867569; 32 pages
Book Source: copy from our personal library

Sadly we have not discovered our own robot friend in the woods, so my son and I did the next best thing ... made our own robot out of LEGOs. Our LEGO collection is large and diverse enough to provide ample parts for robot building.   We have eyes, connecting parts to make arms that swing and plenty of multi-sized, red blocks.

My son insisted that our BOT robot have a power switch in the back. Pair the LEGO bot with a boy mini-figure and let the book play-acting begin!  

'"What's wrong?" the boy asked.  The robot did not answer. 
"Are you sick?" the boy asked.  The robot still did not answer.  
"I must help him," the boy said."'

I am an Amazon affiliate and may receive a very small commission for products purchased through my Amazon links. (View my full disclosure statement for more information about my reviews.)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Autumn ABC Nature Activity

A is for Acorns 
B is for Bark 
C is for Crunchy Leaves 

While waiting for the school bus to arrive, my son and I gathered some items from nature and practiced writing the first letters of the alphabet. I find it hard to believe that autumn is in full swing and the leaves are already changing colors and falling to the ground. Our summer passed by quickly and despite the fact that I didn't blog about our activities, our days were full of fun activities and plenty of books. The ABC game also provides me a good way to remark on my blogging hiatus.

A = I Apologize for my Absence, summer Activities kept me otherwise occupied  
B = Still Busy but now hopefully Back to Blogging about Books and our Bustling life 
C = Creative endeavors sometimes Call for a Cathartic break