New Schedule – Making a Picture Book with Your Child

 

MAKING A PICTURE BOOK WITH YOUR CHILD

If your child is pre-reading but beginning to “pretend” read or a beginning reader, she is ready for copycat books. Here’s an example.

My just turned four granddaughter had memorized Brown Bear, Brown Bear by Eric Carle. Highly recommended if you are unfamiliar with it.

Together, we found free colouring pictures of other animals on the internet.

I printed them on 8″ X 14″ paper, landscape format. I didn’t try to print them on both sides of the paper as it often shows through regular printing paper and the spatial logistics are really complicated. Use two columns.

On the right type something similar to “Brown bear, brown bear, what do you see?” Put the colouring picture below. Leave an extra large space on the right of the text to have room for stitching.

On the left INDENT TWO EXTRA TABS to make room for stitching. Type something similar to “I see a yellow duck looking at me.”

I folded the pages down the middle and sewed them together to make a realistic book.

I taped the spine top reinforce the stiching. I glued the blank backs together.

Here’s  the cover. I should have capitalized all the words.

Below is the first page. I started with the child and ended with the child creating a circular story but you can start with an animal. I used rainbow girl because she loves colorful clothes but you can use the child’s name instead.

Here are the second and third pages. I recommend no more than 7-8 animals.

Notice that the color word is printed in the color the child needs to use. Keep it fun. Don’t fret about coloring skills.

The last page should feature your child. You can post a photo or have the child draw herself. Kayleigh is going to draw herself in colorful clothing.

Buddy read with your child. Point to each word as you read it aloud. Then have the child do it for you. Don’t get too concerned with pointing to the exact word at the beginning just make sure she is pointing from left to right. At first, stress the color words. Then focus on “looking” which has two open eyes “oo” and “see” which has two partly open eyes “ee.” After that is mastered focus on the animal’s name, then the rest of the words. Keep it light and fun. Progress at the child’s speed. Don’t persist if she becomes bored or frustrated. Have fun.

Because this blog is taking so much of my writing time, I will no longer post on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Sundays – Recycled Humor Column

Monday – Book Review

Wednesday – Writer Interview or Book Review or Special Series

Friday – Book Review

Saturday – Randomness

Please keep following, commenting, and sharing.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

 

 

 

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Bear Hockey by Jessica Boyd. Illustrated by Maurizio Curto. Book Review.

This adorable 11 x 8″ picture book will be loved by boys and girls alike. A grey squirrel narrates the story which begins, “Good afternoon, sports fans!…It’s so cold that… The pond is frozen!… That means is the perfect time for Bear Hockey!” The squirrel explains that all bears, once a year, “strap on their helmets, lace up their skates, and pick up their hockey sticks” to participate in bear hockey.

The rules are:

  1. You use many pinecones instead of one puck.
  2. You high-five all the players and spectators multiple times before you start playing.
  3. You take frequent, frequent, frequent honey breaks.
  4. When the last pinecone is scored, it’s time for hibernation!

The emphasis throughout the book is on fun and camaraderie.

The bears wear a variety of colored sweatshirts.  Even though the squirrel announces at one point that the teams are tied, it seems there is only one goalie.

The illustrations are wonderful. Not an inch of space is left empty on any page. The text is superimposed on the busy illustrations. Bears of all sizes play together. Smiles are rampant. The pictures gleam with personality. The bears would make precious stuffed toys.

The littlest bear scores the winning goal (I think everybody won).

After all the excitement, the bears “brush their honey-covered teeth and comb their matted fur and snuggle under the covers for a few quiet months of blissful snoozing.” The book ends with a shot of the littlest bear cuddled up with his jersey. His skates, hockey stick, and helmet are at his feet. A picture of the hockey players hangs in his cave.

What a delightful way to remind children that unregulated hockey is supposed to be fun and that relationships matter more than winning. This would be a great gift, especially for a child who gets a little too intense over playing hockey with friends.

Amazon Buy link http://a.co/3ndl9Sp

Buttertart Books https://buttertartbooks.com/

Read the interview with the author here http://wp.me/p1OfUU-2t6.

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Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Angelina’s Secret by Diane Merrill Wigginton. Book Review.

This is not the kind of book I typically review. It is a lightly historical heavily romantic novel. It features a kick ass heroine in a time where independence and strength in women was frowned upon. It is an adult book of 330 pages.

Angelina is on a ship and is captured by a privateer/pirate named Jude. His heart has been broken and he has a dark opinion of women until he meets Angelina. Angelina is a rebellious, but chaste, young woman until her passion is awakened by the blue-eyed pirate. While her family members are held hostage, Angelina dallies and begins a complicated romance with a man leading a double life.

Admittedly, the premise is fairly clichéd but Wiggington pulls it off if the reader is willing to suspend any skepticism and turn her imagination over to the realm of adventure and romance. Angelina reminded me of Scarlet O’Hara in that she was invincible and controlled by her passion. By the end of the book she had almost taken on super hero status.

The sex scenes emphasize romance while providing just enough detail to be titillating. This is a fun, light, enjoyable book, the kind one takes on vacation or to the beach. If you are looking for something fun that is uncomplicated and upbeat, then this is a book you would definitely enjoy.

Buy link http://a.co/6Mal4Tl

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Author Jessica Boyd – Three Random Questions Interview

Bear Hockey is Jessica Boyd’s first published book. She worked as a senior creative writer/creative lead for Webkinz World (webkinzworld.com) for eight years. She was inspired by reading to her two and four-year-old daughters to begin her own publishing company, Buttertart Books.

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Bonnie Ferrante: Welcome, Jessica. Why did you choose hockey as the subject of your first picture book?

Jessica Boyd: The title came first – I loved the sound of ‘Bear Hockey.’ The story told itself! It’s all about having a good time. It doesn’t matter if you happen to be a bear who excels at sports or, like me, happen to be a bear that just likes hanging out with their friends on skates.

Ferrante: How did you decide to use bears and hibernation as the central subject of Bear Hockey? It’s a clever and unusual idea to choose an animal that hibernates throughout the winter.

Boyd: I liked the idea of hibernation being the ending. The whole book reads like an actual hockey game – it’s fun, fast-paced and exciting. Until the last pinecone is scored, that is. At that point, the bears quiet down. They get cleaned up and ready for bed. The final two pages show the bears sleeping, which is the perfect ending to a bedtime story.

Ferrante: Do you feel children today get enough opportunity to play unstructured sports?

Boyd: I think unstructured play in general is something kids don’t get enough of. When I was younger (I was a child of the eighties), I’d roam the neighbourhood with my friends and just kind of meet up with other kids. Games were generally loose and made up of whoever happened to be around at the time. Kids need that freedom and time to use their imagination.  

Ferrante: You didn’t just write a book, you also started a publishing company. I see you used Kickstarter to finance your first enterprise. How has that gone?

Boyd: Kickstarter was a terrific learning experience! The most important thing I discovered was that it’s crucial to tell as many friends/loved ones/acquaintances/well-wishers about your plans ahead of time. People generally want to support your dreams – they just need to know in advance. (This seems obvious, but when you’re in the throes of getting a book written/published, it’s easy to forget the marketing part.)

Ferrante: You have two small girls at home. Do you have a structured time for writing?

Boyd: Not really! My writing time (and the time I use to work on marketing/running Buttertart Books) is when my girls go to bed. Occasionally I get an hour or two on the weekends, but most of my writing is done by the light of my computer screen in my dark office.

Ferrante: I have four adorable hockey cards representing four bears on the team. How can readers obtain these? Are there more?

Boyd: The hockey cards were an add-on we did for Kickstarter. People really liked them! If anyone orders a book through Amazon, I will send along two random hockey cards with it.

Ferrante: Maurizio Curto did a stellar job with the illustrations. How did you connect with this artist?

Boyd: Maurizio and I worked together in Webkinz World. He’s still there, actually! We worked on another book, Forgetful Eddie, a number of years ago. The book turned out really well (and will be one of the next books Buttertart Books publishes), so I knew who to turn to when Bear Hockey needed illustrating! Maurizio has a terrific style and his illustrations worked perfectly with the story.

Ferrante: You have a second book in the works, Duck Fort. Would you like to tell us a little about that?

Boyd: Duck Fort is about a clever duck building a fort to relax in…and then having all her friends drop by and ask for forts of their very own. It’s really funny, but there’s a little bit of a lesson at the end about appreciating our friends and thanking people for their hard work.

Ferrante: Is there any advice you can give to beginning picture book writers?

Boyd: Read, read, read. The more you read picture books, the more you’ll understand what makes them so special. I absolutely LOVE Phoebe Gilman (“Something from Nothing” and any of the Jillian Jiggs series are read quite often around here), Mo Willems (anything he writes is wonderful) and Jeff Kinney (I’m a total Diary of a Wimpy Kid fan). I have a gigantic picture book collection and I love perusing the children’s book section at my local bookstore to see what’s new (one of my youngest daughter’s newest favourites is “No, No Kitten!” by Shelley Moore Thomas).

three random questions

Ferrante: As a child, what was your favourite treat?

Boyd: Anything chocolate. Actually, anything with sugar in it. I have a huge sweet tooth.

Ferrante: What character flaw would you like to get rid of?

Boyd: My dentist would say the huge sweet tooth. I would say my inability to keep my office neat and tidy/my apparent need to work in a chaotic (but creative!) environment.

Ferrante: If you had limitless courage, what would you do in the next few days?

Boyd: Limitless courage? I’d go dancing, probably. Or speak in public! Or go skydiving. Or maybe all three. If my courage is limitless, let’s go big!

Ferrante: Thank you, Jessica, for sharing your writing experience with us. Good luck with Duck Fort.

Bear Hockey will be reviewed Friday, September 8.

https://buttertartbooks.com/

https://www.facebook.com/ButtertartBooks/

https://www.linkedin.com/in/jessica-boyd-3b7a042/

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

 

Sammy and the Fire (A Dangerous and Exciting Adventure) by Lynn Miclea. Book Review.

This story is told entirely from the point of view of the dog. It is totally believable and makes the reader connect and care deeply for the dog. Sammy is an independent little soul. He digs a hole under the fence and keeps it a secret from his family. When he smells smoke, he uses this as an escape to find out what is wrong. Through great tribulation, problem-solving and courage,  he manages to save an old lady and her cat from a house fire.

Sammy was rescued from the pound. His memories show us what it is like for a dog to feel abandoned and then encounter a loving and gentle family. The book subtly reminds children how to treat dogs properly.

The story is highly dramatic and suspenseful yet the author manages to inject some sweet moments of humour such as when the dog hopes the peanut butter candy survives the fire.

Children who are beginning to read chapter books will absolutely love this story. It’s the kind of book you would want your child to read.

One suggestion I have for the author is that, especially with suspense, she should try to avoid using passive verbs. For example. to keep a tight, fast pace, instead of:

“was losing” use lost

“was thicker” use thickened

“was moving slowly” use moved slowly

She might want to use modern names for her children as Billy and Susie sound a bit dated. A good way to keep current is to check the list of the most popular children’s  names the year your  readers were born.

There are five excellent full colour illustrations. My only wish was that they would be full page. I viewed it on an e-book and they were quite small.

All in all, this was a lovely book that I would not hesitate to buy for someone who is just into chapter books.

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Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Homework – Recycled Sundays

As soon as the soft spring air is filled with sounds of robins seeking mates and feet seeking soccer balls, my children will begin counting the days until summer vacation. The older they get, the more I join in their relief when school is out. No more homework.

It isn’t that there’s too much homework or that it’s too difficult. Homework is just one more source of conflict. We have the typical arguments. “How can you be doing your homework with Brian Adams belting out his tunes three inches from your ear?” I’ll ask.

My daughter responds exactly the same way I did to my parents. “It’s just background music. It helps me concentrate.”

This spring I acquired new ammunition. Two different students did science fair projects on the effects of music on learning. Rock ‘n’ roll is not beneficial. Classics are. So, we’ve worked out a compromise. When the homework requires problem-solving or creating, my daughter listens to Vivaldi. When she’s colouring a map or drawing a graph, it’s Sting.

The second conflict is over where to do homework. I bought her a used school desk. It became too crowded. I gave her my desk. Now it’s equally crowded. I have yet to understand where most of the stuff on her desk came from, what it actually is, and how feathers and bubblegum jokes could possibly relate to homework.

So she works on the kitchen table unless it’s too crowded. Then it could be the couch, the coffee table, or her bed. Oddly, when home work is forgotten on the table it survives spilled milk and slopped lasagna. My bills though, adhere to old pizza sauce. I know if I put a desk in every room she’d still be doing homework on the floor and I still couldn’t find a clean clear space to write a check.

This year my son started having homework. He told me he was doing a research project.

“What on?” I asked.

“The world.”

“Mapping the world?”

“No. Just the world,” said my son.

“But what about it? Languages? Countries? Development? History? Animal distribution? Climates? Natural resources? What?”

“Yeah, that.”

“Honey, that’s impossible. You know the library books called The World Encyclopedia? That’s a project on the world. Narrow it down.”

The next day he said, “Mom I narrowed it down. I’m doing a project on North America.”

“But what about it? Languages? Countries? Development? History? Animal distribution? Climates? Natural resources? What?”

“Canada, United States and Mexico.”

“Honey, that’s still too much.”

Then he pulls out the discussion stopper. “The teacher said I could.” I had as much chance of changing his mind as of climbing the tallest mountain in Canada.

He handed in a project in North America. The teacher liked his information, maps and postage stamps, but she said the topic was too general. No kidding.

I especially enjoy the, “I don’t know” homework. My daughter told me one Wednesday that she was unable to find much information on food in Thunder Bay. She and her group had to present it Friday. This was Wednesday. I wanted to know if she meant food now, in the early 1900s, or at Historical Fort William.

“I don’t know.”

Was she researching a particular ethnic group?

“I don’t know.”

“When did you get this assignment?” I asked.

“I don’t know.”

I demanded a guess. “Last week, I think.”

“Last week,” I hissed. “Why didn’t you say something earlier?”

“I don’t know.”

I wrote a groveling letter to the teacher asking for the weekend to bring my daughter to the library. The teacher informed me that the students already had two weeks to do the assignment. My daughter never mentioned that she was having trouble.

I confronted my daughter. “Why did you let this go so long?”

“I don’t know.”

Geography homework is a challenge. Not only does Africa change names and borders with every new leader, but now the former USSR is mutating daily. For her homework, the names need to be translated into French as well. Do you see why I want to pack my bags and head to Timbuktu when my daughter asks what’s the capital of Uganda in French? All I can say is “I don’t know,” turn on my Rolling Stones music and try to find a clean spot to work on my article about Asia.

Chronicle-Journal/Times-News Regional Newspaper

May 24, 1992

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Oh, the Places You’ll Go! By Dr. Suess. Book Review.

 

I remember when this book first came out. Every principal and vice principal who had to MC a high school or elementary school graduation ceremony latched onto this book as a holy text. It was read to classes year after year and then continued to be spread by parents gifting it to their children. There is a reason it resonated so well.

Not only does this book contain sound advice for any young person heading out into the world but it serves as a reminder to us all of our possibilities and our challenges. It can be applied to the beginning of any new venture. I realized, because my granddaughter has a rather large vocabulary, that this book was suitable to read to her before beginning junior kindergarten. Although the message certainly wasn’t internalized on the first read through, the book launches well into discussion.

Everyone worries, whether they are beginning kindergarten, being promoted to the head CO, starting their own business, or leaving the nest, whether they will find their place and fulfill their potential. This book has a perfect combination of positive expectations and reality. “You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead.” is followed with “except when you don’t. Because, sometimes you won’t.” Note the word sometimes. The door is wide open. The possibilities are there.

When children are inheriting a dying world with ecosystems being destroyed and pollution, including the dumping of nuclear waste, completely out of control. With wars on going and wars threatening. With obesity and heart attack hand-in-hand with poor diet and factory farming. With climate change bringing desertification, tornadoes and floods and who knows what else. With inner-city violence and the shadow of terrorism. On and on and on. Children need to have confidence and feel empowered but also realize that they will not be able to fulfill every dream or every goal.  Some things are beyond their control. What amazing discussions this book can trigger for any age.

I would say, don’t wait till university graduation or even high school graduation. Get this book into your child’s hands as soon they are able to comprehend it. Then again, you might want to save it for that moment of doubt when he’she faces difficult choices.

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Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Guest Post by Dr. Bob Rich: What Makes a Children’s Book Stand Out?

Bob is a professional grandfather. Any human under 25 years of age may take advantage of the offer of becoming his grandbaby. Therefore, everything he does, including his writing, is aimed at making this planet a better place for its young people. He wants a survivable future, and one worth surviving in. Our global culture is rushing the other way, toward planetary suicide, because it encourages and rewards the worst in human nature: greed, aggression, hate and therefore fear of those slightly different from us. So, Bob is working for culture change: we need to reward and encourage the best in human nature: compassion, generosity, cooperation.

At the time of writing, Bob is the author of 16.5 published books, five of them award-winners. If you want to know how you can have a half-published book, go to http://bobswriting.com/hitandrun.html where you can request a free advance review copy of a story that shows how kids, even those guilty of multiple murder, can be led to decency.

His latest published book is Guardian Angel [link to http://bobswriting.com/guardian.html ], which is the story of a little Australian Aboriginal girl born in 1850: “child of the land, fruit of an evil deed, instrument of love.” One person who leaves a comment here will win a free copy of this book, which has the 5 star reviews pouring in.

What makes a children’s book stand out?

Most children’s books are merely a temporary answer to the question, “Oh, what’ll I buy as a present for little Jimmy?” A book is better than a plastic toy or some battery-operated piece of tomorrow’s trash, but it’s often a “read and forget” exercise. They blend into the crowd of other books of the same kind: fairies or dinosaurs or inanimate objects pretending to be human.

Some books stand out. Something about them makes them remembered, and recommended, and loved. Why?

I’m cursed with a scientific training, so need to make any such question measurable. Here are three measures for your consideration:

Added value

I think the best thing to ever come out of America is the collection of books from Dr. Seuss. My favorite is The Lorax. It is the first-ever bit of greenie propaganda aimed at children, and does it delightfully. Having chanted it with kids so often, I can recite it, word for word. I was once a volunteer at a community school, where the first task the teacher gave was to ask a new person to read The Lorax to some kids. Those who read with verve and enthusiasm were allowed to continue as helpers.

All the other Seuss books have educational value beyond enjoyment. Green Eggs and Ham is about “try it for yourself.” You might want to look at the other ones and see how they each are designed to benefit kids in some way.

The same is true for Roald Dahl’s writing, and for many others that have graced childhoods for generations.

The added value can be humor, education, ethical lessons, empathy, or preferably all of these. I think you’ll find that all the books you remember from your childhood have identifiable qualities beyond entertainment.

I started with oldies, because they have maintained their freshness over the years. I’ve encountered a few new books that should become keepers (if people notice them in today’s avalanche of publications).

A series of illustrated children’s books by Jennifer Poulter qualify. I came across them because she submitted one, Getting Home, [link to https://www.etsy.com/au/listing/484346065/getting-home-a-childrens-picture-book ] for the LiFE Award: Literature for Environment [link to http://bobswriting.com/life.html ], which I administer. This is a story about baby polar bear being separated from mom, who eventually rescues him. The added value is that, while the words of the story are age-appropriate for preschoolers, there are also adult-language notes for the person reading, with facts little kids will find interesting, and which will lead them to environmental consciousness.

Also, keep an eye out for the work of Claudia Marie Lenart **[link to http://claudiamariefelt.com ]. I know about her because I edit books for her publisher, Loving Healing Press [link to http://www.lovinghealing.com ]. The added value in her little books is the beauty of the illustrations. She makes intricate pictures with needle felt, and photographs them. My eight-year-old granddaughter loves the pictures, and therefore enjoys reading the stories to her little brother.

Hidden meaning

The best children’s books are full of content meant for an adult. Such gems apparently skid over the kid’s head without being understood or even noted, but they are seeds of wisdom for the future.

Fifty years ago, when I got married, I found out that my new wife had never heard of Winnie the Pooh. So, each evening, I read her a chapter. This was blessedly before Walt Disney had replaced the delightful original drawings. We both enjoyed the experience: the subtle, understated humor, the hidden little barbs about human nature, the way these make-believe characters provided guidance in morality without preaching.

  1. S. Lewis’s Narnia books are also ostensibly for children, but they are full of meaning and allegory few kids would pick up.

I think this criterion applies to all literature. In fact, it is what distinguishes literature from read-once-and-forget.

Customer obsession

When my little great-grandson Caleb was given I Need a New Bum by Dawn McMillan [link to https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16092697-i-need-a-new-bum ], he loved it so much that his mother was required to read it to him, over and over and over, until she was sick of the sight of it. By then, he could recite every word, and did so with relish.

The Harry Potter books belong here. Blessed if I know why, but people of all ages from about 10 to 110 seem to be obsessed with them. I am glad, because they have led so many youngsters to a love of reading, but personally they do nothing for me. I haven’t managed to finish any of them.

In many other cases, the reason for a book’s success also escapes me, but I am happy to trust the reaction of the target audience: the child. Nothing beats observation for evidence. This is why, when I edit kids’ books, I usually advise my client to try out the draft on real children. Make a powerpoint presentation of the illustrations (if any), go to a nearby school, and read the story to the right age group. Their reaction will tell you everything you need to know.

**I have not read any of Dr. Bob’s books but I am familiar with Claudia Marie Lenart’s work.

Review of Prince Primee which she illustrated.

Author Illustrator Claudia Marie Lenart Three Random Questions Interview

Review of Seasons of Joy: Every Day is For Outdoor Play written and illustrated by Claudia Marie Lenart.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Guest Posts

Guest posts are welcome to a maximum of one per week. Follow my blog to get an understanding of what I publish. A guest post should be 900-1200 words. These are suitable topics:

  • Book reviews of picture books, early chapter books, and young adult books.
  • Information, inspiration, education, and creation pertaining to children and families.
  • An article about writing for children or with children. Make this helpful and relevant to my readers. This should not be an account of your books.
  • Tips for reading to and with children.
  • Anything about writing or researching for writing or children’s books.
  • Working with, helping, educating, or parenting children.Please no religion or politics. Nothing misogynistic, racially divisive, homophobic, or animal exploitation. (Anything about involving children with rescued animals or the outdoors is great.)

A Girl Who Can Hold Her Own Against a Bully – The Three Ninja Pigs by Corey Rosen Schwartz. Illustrated by Dan Santat. Book Review.

Click here to buy The Three Ninja Pigs The Three Ninja Pigs

This fractured folktale is a take on The Three Little Pigs that I thoroughly enjoyed.

The three pigs decide they are going to stand up to the bully, the Wolf, who is blowing down houses. They train at the ninja school. The first one takes aikido and drops out after three weeks. The second little pig takes jujitsu and quits before his teacher says he is ready. Pig three, the girl, learns karate. She stays for months and works through all the belts until she becomes a black belt.

When the Wolf comes to the straw house, pig one is unprepared and must run for his life. When the Wolf comes to the stick house, pig two also has to run for his life. But pig three, their sister, intimidates the Wolf into leaving when she shows him her tremendous skills ending with breaking a pile of bricks with her hand. The two brothers decide to go back to ninja school and in the end the three of them form their own dojo.

It is awesome to see a book where the pigs are not all male and even more inspiring that the girl is the wise and dedicated hero. I love how they’ve included a message in this book without being preachy and used the venue of ninja pigs which is sure to be a favorite with kids. However, the clear difference between the two male quitters and the female hero is a bit denigrating to boys.

This is a rhyming book. I cringed when I realized that but I was quickly impressed. The story is told in limericks. It holds the proper beat consistently. It doesn’t create awkward, unrealistic sentences in order to make the rhyme. The vocabulary is age appropriate throughout. Obviously Schwartz knows his business when it comes to writing in rhyme, a rare talent that too many people try in vain to accomplish.

The pictures are a hoot. They fill the page and the text fits into the bare spots. They are bright, glossy, and remind me of the best quality of graphic novels. The pages are action packed like a true ninja book should be. The pigs expressions are priceless and the Wolf is almost too scary.

This book is pure delight.

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And so we leave our month of three. In the future, I am going to do more themes. I think it’s helpful for teachers and fun for parents. I enjoy it as well. Keep following. 🙂

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

The Three Grasshoppers by Francesca Bosca. Illustrated by Giuliano Ferri. Book Review.

This tall children’s picture book features three grasshopper friends, Charlie, Connor, and Carl. These talented musicians sing and play their instruments, write songs, and entertain the other grasshoppers. As winter approaches, they realize they have not stored enough food to survive the cold weather. Charlie tells the story of the grasshopper and the ants and the three friends agree that they must begin to store food.

Unfortunately, they are not harmonious workers and the three friends separate. Because they work so hard, they have no time for socializing or making music. When other grasshoppers approach Charlie to say how much they miss the music, he convinces them to work for him storing food. He preys on the grasshoppers’ fears and becomes a tyrannical overseer. Connor and Carl follow suit and soon there is room only for one more storage bin in the field.

The groups of grasshoppers argue over the remaining space and then begin to fight with weapons. Suddenly an elephant appears. Unaware, it is just about to crush all the storage bins when the three friends distract it away with music. Everyone celebrates the saving of the food supplies. Friendships are renewed and Charlie, Connor, and Carl promise to always work together and make music together.

What a meaty little story. Although not necessary, it is a good idea to familiarize the child with the original story of the grasshopper and the ants. This is a much more complex plot and there is much to be discussed about the theme. Here are some questions you could ask your child using vocabulary at her level.

  • Could the three grasshoppers have solved their differences and continued to work together?
  • Must they work so hard that they no longer have time for socializing or making music? Is there no middle ground?
  • Do you think the fact that they stop socializing and making music together impacted on their decision to fight with weapons for the last space? Do the arts have an influence on the way people treat each other? Do collaborative creations, such as writing and performing a piece of music, create bonds between the participants?
  • How do manipulators use fear to get others to work for them?
  • Are you familiar with the phrase, “putting all your eggs in one basket?” Was it wise for the grasshoppers to store all their food in one place?
  • Did you think little grasshoppers would be able to save colony from an elephant in another way?
  • What could the grasshoppers do differently next autumn?

I wondered about the choice of making a book 11.5″ tall by 8.25″ wide featuring ants but it worked well. The reader is brought down to the small ant world through the use of tall grass and flowers. The illustrations are done in soft colors, predominantly in browns, greens, grays, and white. Ferri gives the simple little ants revealing expressions and body language. To differentiate the three groups of ants, Ferri creates triangular, square, and round storage units. The jubilation illustrated on the last page is genuinely heart warming.

Highly recommended.

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Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages