Friday, June 2

The Explorers: The Door in the Alley (Review and Blog Tour!)

Welcome to Literary Hoots for this stop in the blog tour of The Explorers: The Door in the Alley! I'm excited to share my thoughts on this most adventurous of adventure stories. And talk about a pig in a teeny hat, of course.

The Explorers: The Door in the Alley
Adrienne Kress

My rating: ★★★

ISBN: 978-1101940051
Publisher: Delacorte
Date of publication: April 25, 2017
Age: Grades 3 - 6
Genre: Mystery
Format: ARC from publisher

Themes: adventure, secret societies, missing person, friendship, exploring, maps

"This is one of those stories that start with a pig in a teeny hat. It’s not the one you’re thinking about. (This story is way better than that one.) This pig-in-a-teeny-hat story starts when a very uninquisitive boy stumbles upon a very mysterious society. After that, there is danger and adventure; there are missing persons, hired thugs, a hidden box, a lost map, and famous explorers; and there is a girl looking for help that only uninquisitive boys can offer."

Tuesday, May 30

Reviews of the Week 5/29

Amazing how a small vacation can totally throw me off my blogging groove... But, of course, I still read books. And I still like to share what I read. So while there haven't been many other posts on this here blog other than reviews recently, I'm giving myself a pat on the back for still blogging. And maybe I'll find the mental reserves to put some other content out there. Eventually. (Ah, well, just keeping things honest, right?). Here are some more awesome books to check out:

Monday, May 22

Reviews of the Week 5/22

I've got some extra special tidbits included with today's reviews: Shannon Hale, the author of the now bestselling and highly-acclaimed Real Friends, is local and I was able to go to her book talk just this weekend. So, not only do you get to hear my thoughts on her newest book (woo! right?), but learn some extra special background info (the fascinating tidbits she shared). Plus some other awesome book highlights, in the board book and picture book categories.

Friday, May 19

Reviews of the Week 5/15

I don't really know why this didn't get posted at the beginning of the week. Do you ever have one of those weeks that are like, "*Poof* it's Friday!" and you don't remember how you got to the end so fast? Actually, you know what. The whole month is going too fast. How is it already this far gone in May. What the heck. Maybe the books are just sucking me in too much. They're like a time warp. (#bookloverproblems)

Wednesday, May 17

5 Worlds: The Sand Warrior (Review and Giveaway!)

For yet one more giveaway, I have a fantastic new graphic novel, which is a genre I don't tackle often enough. Good thing I have opportunities like these to share some graphic-novel-goodness with you. Thanks to Random House for providing me an ARC and for sponsoring this giveaway! Enter below...

5 Worlds: The Sand Warrior
Written by Mark Siegal & Alexis Siegal
Illustrated by Xanthe Bouma, Matt Rockefeller, & Boya Sun

My rating: ★★★★

ISBN: 978-1101935866
Publisher: Random House
Date of publication: May 2, 2017
Age: Grades 4 - 8
Genre: Graphic Novel, Fantasy, Science Fiction
Format: ARC from publisher

Themes: adventure, heroes, friendship, alternate universe, elemental powers

"The Five Worlds are on the brink of extinction unless five ancient and mysterious beacons are lit. When war erupts, three unlikely heroes will discover there’s more to themselves—and more to their worlds—than meets the eye...

 - The clumsiest student at the Sand Dancer Academy, Oona Lee is a fighter with a destiny bigger than she could ever imagine.
- A boy from the poorest slums, An Tzu has a surprising gift and a knack for getting out of sticky situations.
- Star athlete Jax Amboy is beloved by an entire galaxy, but what good is that when he has no real friends?

"When these three kids are forced to team up on an epic quest, it will take not one, not two, but 5 WORLDS to contain all the magic and adventure!"

Friday, May 12

Flannel Friday: Five Hungry Ants

I really am cheating at this whole "flannel" Friday thing, since I actually like making printable versions instead (sharing, is caring, right?). So here is a "flannel" you yourself can use--just print the images included! Check it out:

This is a classic flannel that I've since learned by attending storytimes with my daughter. The toddlers just think this rhyme is absolutely hilarious and I had to share my own printable version here. It's a counting down rhyme about some cute little ants trying to get some food at a picnic. Here's the rhyme with actions:

Five hungry ants marching in a line, (hold up five fingers)
Came upon a picnic where they could dine. (eating motions with hands to mouth)
They marched into the salad, (march in place)
They marched into the cake, 
They marched into the pepper… 
Uh oh! That was a mistake! (hands to face with shocked expression)
(do your most dramatic sneeze! seriously, the more exaggerated, the more hilarious)

Four hungry ants... (and so on counting down)

These ants at a picnic could go great with a bugs storytime, summer storytime, or with whatever suits your fancy. To get the free printables, just click on the links below. You can attach a little flannel or velcro to the back to get them to stick to your flannel board.

Free vector images to print: ant, salad, cake, and pepper*

(*Pepper shaker clipart credit here under Creative Commons License)

Anne at So Tomorrow is hosting the Flannel Friday roundup today. You can also check out the FF website, Pinterest, or Facebook! Or use #flannelstorytime on Twitter!

Tuesday, May 9

Reviews of the week 5/8

Four stars all around today. So, yes, these are some pretty great books that I'd definitely recommend. I mean, don't risk a trip and a face plant in your rush to the library or book store, but they're still pretty good. Four-star good.

Friday, May 5

11+ Awesome Spanish/English Bilingual Picture Books

Happy Cinco de Mayo! I'm feeling pretty festive today (or maybe I'm just craving tacos...) so I thought I'd share some of my favorite Spanish picture books. Or really, to be more specific, the Spanish bilingual books and Mexican culture stories I enjoyed using my Head Start Preschool storytimes (you can see a couple highlighted bilingual storytimes I did here). So here are my top eleven! Plus some more, because I always seem to think of other random titles here and there in my descriptions. There are, of course, many more awesome bilingual books, so if you have a favorite, don't forget to share them in the comments below!

Wednesday, May 3

Share, Big Bear, Share! (Review and Giveaway!)

Oh yeah, did I mention my giveaway frenzy was continuing into May? Yep, so much to "share" (pun intended...). This time we're going back to the picture book audience with this new title from Maureen Wright's Big Bear series, Share, Big Bear, Share! So enjoy this blog tour stop, check out my review, and enter the giveaway below!

Share, Big Bear, Share!
Written by Maureen Wright, illustrated by Will Hillenbrand

My rating: ★★★★

ISBN: 978-1503951006
Publisher: Two Lions
Date of publication: April 25, 2017
Age: 3 - 7 years
Format: ARC from publisher

Themes: sharing, forest animals,

"Big Bear's forest friends eye his berries hungrily, but he doesn't notice as he digs into his delicious snack. When the old oak tree says, 'Share, Big Bear, share,' he thinks the tree has said, 'Hair, Big Bear, hair!' One comical scene follows another as Big Bear keeps misunderstanding the old oak tree's message until things finally get sorted out. Whimsical illustrations highlight the humor in this gentle story about the importance of sharing something special with friends."

Friday, April 28

15 Fun Extension Activities for The Adventures of Beekle

Welcome back to my series of posts highlighting some of my very favorite, favorite picture books and the supplementary games, songs, and activities you could use with them. This could be useful for library programs, the classroom, homeschooling, or (of course) to just have fun with your kids! You can see all my book activity ideas here. But today, I'll share ideas for...

Not only one of my favorites, but also a Caldecott winner! The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat is an awesome story with even awesome-er illustrations. It's colorful, it's bright, it inspires share lots of awesome activities. These are targetted at the book's target age group of about 4 to 7 years old. Check them out below!

1. Draw your own imaginary friend -- This one pretty much goes without saying, but this book does provide the most excellent of opportunities to exercise one's imagination. So draw a portrait of your buddy, whether he/she comes purely from your mind's eye or whether you draw some inspiration from Beekle's end pages. Giant sketchbook and pen are not necessary (but could be fun!)

Dan Santat at work, from The Horn Book