The Best Thing About Kindergarten by Jennifer Lloyd. Illustrated by Qin Leng. Book Review.

This book takes place on the last day of a kindergarten class as they prepare for their little graduation. The teacher poses the question, “Who can guess what is the best thing about kindergarten?”

As the day progresses, children propose different answers: calendar time, playhouse center, block corner, arts and crafts time, math time, writing center, story time, and recess.  After the children have received their diplomas and marched probably in front of their parents they demand to know what the answer is. “What is the best thing about kindergarten?” they shout.

The teacher replies, “It is each one of you of course! You, my students, are the best thing about kindergarten!”

 This is definitely a feel good book for children going to school. I think it would be a wonderful thing for the teacher to read at the end of September in order to get across the idea that although she has to fill the jam-packed day with curriculum, yes even for kindergarten, the best thing about it is the kids.

The illustrations are simple. There are children of different races in the kindergarten class but no one with any obvious disabilities is represented. A pleasant book to share. 

Click on the covers to buy the book or for more information.

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More great books about kindergarten.

  

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Children In Need – Author Cleo Lampos Three Random Questions Interview

4139881Cleo Lampos has written several books on important issues:

  • A Mother’s Song: a Story of the Orphan Train
  • Rescuing Children: Teachers, Social workers, Nuns and Missionaries Who Stepped in the Shadows to Rescue Waifs
  • Second Chances: Teachers of the Diamond Projects School Series
  • Teaching Diamonds in the Tough: Mining the Potential in Every Student
  • Miss Bee and the Do Bees: Teachers of the Diamond Projects School Series
  • Grandpa’s Remembering Book (Alzheimer’s Disease)
  • Cultivating Wildflowers: An Urban Teacher Romance
  • Dust Between the Stitches

Bonnie Ferrante: Your biography on Goodreads is phenomenal. Why did you to return to university and earn a Masters degree in Learning disabilities while working in the LD/BD Clinic as a diagnostician?

Cleo Lampos: The events in one’s life defines a lot of their character. This is true for myself. At the age of three, my father died of heart failure and several years later my mother married a man with an alcohol addiction. Both of these life changing events influenced my decisions as an adult. I became acutely aware of children suffering from low self-esteem or the effects of abuse. As such, I eventually earned a Master’s degree in behavior disordered/emotionally disturbed education and taught for 26 years.

Ferrante: What inspired you to write about the orphan trains?

Lampos: Having spent a year in foster care, the idea of a mother giving up a child for adoption or allowing them to be fostered out for their own safety intrigued me. The realization that adult women could not protect or provide for their children helped me to delve into the research of the orphan trains in which 250,000 children rode the trains from New York City to the Midwest for a chance at a better life. The historical novel A Mother’s Song is the result of a lifetime of experiences.

 Click on the cover to buy the book or for more information.

Ferrante: Teaching is an emotionally and physically draining career that can easily take over your entire life? Were you able to write while you were teaching? Were you writing about teaching or something else?

Lampos: Writing provided an outlet for therapy and coping with difficult situations. As a teacher, I journaled in order to make sense of the trauma, drama and triumph of the classroom.

Ferrante: How do you find time for writing with all the volunteer work that you do? Do you have a routine you follow?

Lampos: Most of my writing has been done early in the morning when my mind is clear and the house is quiet. This writing routine spans decades of my life.

Ferrante: Many of your books are about serious and difficult subjects such as Grandpa’s Remembering Book and A Mother’s Song: A Story of the Orphan Train. Previously, I read about the orphan trains and found the story of what these children encountered to be emotionally painful. Alzheimer’s Disease has touched almost everyone’s family or friends by the time they reach my age and even though we know it is prevalent, it is a difficult thing to accept. How do you deal with researching such heartbreaking events?

Click on the cover to buy the book or for more information.

Lampos: Researching the issues of adoption, attachment difficulties, Alzheimer’s, or foster care breathes life into me as I begin to understand these conditions. For many years, these nuggets of insight provided narrative for magazine articles and Sunday School take-home papers.

Ferrante: Many of your books, even your romance Cultivating Wildflowers: An Urban Teacher Romance, feature orphaned or abandoned children. If you could get one message across to your readers pertaining to the situation, what would you like them to understand?

Lampos: The overriding theme of all my writing is the inherent value and potential of every child regardless of their circumstances.

Click on the cover to buy the book or for more information.

Ferrante: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

Lampos: I love to volunteer and meet people. Rather than watching television, my husband and I work in the local community garden, pack lima beans for a group involved in hunger, teach at the local senior groups or local colleges, and help out in projects. The feelings from being part of a well organized outreach is priceless.

Ferrante: Tell us about your latest work.

Lampos: My latest published book took five years to research, including reading my mother’s diary from the Great Depression. The historic novel, Dust Between the Stitches, presents the difficulties of a rural teacher in the Dust Bowl as she tries to help her grandfather keep the family homestead from bank foreclosure. During the course of the book, the teacher falls in love and creates a quilt from the feed sack scraps she collects. Despite depressing events, this is a book of hope in the midst of challenge.

Click on the cover to buy the book or for more information.

three random questions

Ferrante: Almost everyone can recall a missed photo opportunity because he/she did not have a camera. What moment above all others do you wish you could have caught on film?

Lampos: If I could have been caught on film, I wish that I had been photographed with my students ten years ago as we made leaf rubbings in the autumn.

Ferrante: If you could float in a hot air balloon over any city or place in the world, what would you choose to float over?

Lampos: On a balloon ride, I want to float over the beet farms near Greeley, Colorado, and trace the irrigation ditches.

Ferrante: What is your favorite day of the week? Why?

Lampos: My favorite day is Sunday, because I love to sing hymns and again connect with hope.

Ferrante: Thank you for sharing with us today. Your books sound wonderful. Good luck with your writing.

Miss Bee and the Do Bees was reviewed on this blog January 14, 2017.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

 

Note: the three random questions are from “Chat Pack – Fun Questions to Spark Conversations”.

 

Social Skill Wrapped in Hilarity: Bossy Flossy written and illustrated by Paulette Bogan. Book Review.

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Click here to buy Bossy Flossy

It is such a great feeling when I find a picture book that both my granddaughter and I enjoy. Bossy Flossy had turned us into Paulette Bogan fans by the third page.

Flossy butts heads with everyone, including her toys. The book begins with Flossy standing in the middle of her bedroom telling all her toys what to do. With one hand on her hip and the other pointing, she demands, “Sit up straight. Look at me. Listen to me. Pay attention. Do what I tell you.” She is bossy to her cat, her little brother, and even her mother.

Although flossy is a simple, cartoonish character, her big wild red hair, her dramatic gestures, and her expressive face make her a real person and a force to be reckoned with.

Flossy does not understand that she is being bossy. When she is sent to her room, she tells herself, “I’m not bossy. Mom is bossy. She always tells me what to do. She never listens to me. I’m just trying to tell her something.” We realize that Flossy doesn’t see herself the way others do. As well, we aren’t sure about her interpretation of her mother’s behavior. Maybe Mom is bossy. At times, it seems as though Flossie is trying to be helpful but is unaware of the effect her behavior has on others. She tells a classmate how to paint and then takes the press and draw the line on her artwork. She orders another classmate to wear a hat she has chosen to complete his dress-up costume.

When a new boy, Edward, joins her class, Flossy meets her match in the overbearing department. Frustrated, Flossie challenges Edward but he doesn’t back down. The argument escalates until they are both sent to timeout. There, they agreed to stop bossing others. They both improve and become great friends.

Although it might sound like a didactic book, it really isn’t. Bogan disarms us completely with humor and charm. Children might identify with Flossy’s problem but will find her behavior intriguing and silly. If you have an overly dominant child, I would avoid discussing bossiness immediately after reading this. It is such a delightful book, you wouldn’t want to spoil it. After reading it a couple of times, you might want to bring up the difference between being bossy and being helpful, taking turns, listening to others, and so on. In my home, “Bossy Flossy” has become a code that can make either my granddaughter or myself stop and think about how our words sound to the other person. Even if you don’t have a bossy member in your family, this book can be just pure fun to read.

The illustrations are interesting in that they appear to be drawn individually, cut out and arranged on the page. This could be a fun art activity to do with your child. You can both draw and cut out several different characters and then arrange them into different story scenes.

Highly recommended both for fun and value.

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An interview with the author, Paulette Bogan, will be posted on this blog, March 8, 2017.

A copy of this book was generously donated by the author to my Little Free Library.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Top Ten Picture Books I Reviewed in 2016 – #1 to 3

 Click on the cover to buy the book.

#1 Priceless Penny by Lauren Kramer-Theuerkauf. Illustrated by James Sell.

The cover of this book catches your eye right away. It features a bright picture of a large eye dog, ears up, tongue hanging out, grin on her goofy little face. Then you notice that her left paw is deformed. When you open the book you see a beautiful illustration of a dog in a cage sleeping on her back.

If this story doesn’t put a lump in your throat, go to the author’s website and see the actual pictures of Penny and the other rescued dogs. This book has all the more punch when you realize it is basically a true story.

Not only does this book teach children to be compassionate to animals and accept them for the way they are, but I am sure that children are smart enough to draw a parallel into their own lives. There is so much valuable subject matter to discuss with your child after reading this book.
 Click on the cover to buy the book.

#2 Once Upon a Memory by Nina Laden. Illustrated by Renata Liwska.

The story lends itself well to a discussion of beginnings, changes, and cause and effect. The words are lyrical, even poetic. This beautiful book pulls you in and leaves you feeling that you have been touched by something precious.

 Click on the cover to buy the book.
#3 Today the Teacher Changed our Seats by Frances Gilbert. Illustrated by Ben Quesnel.

The paintings in this book have unique quality of expressiveness and subtle detail. The little green-eyed girl who is telling the story is not your picture perfect child. She has a turned up nose, big bushy eyebrows, and rather large ears which make her all the more lovable. Her emotion is transparently portrayed and we connect with her fear of not belonging in any group. The class is a diverse group of children and the teacher is African-American.

While this book can be used as an introduction to math groupings, it is also a good launching pad for discussion about inclusion and how we label people into certain categories. It is a short, simple book that carries a lot of weight.

The rest of the list, #4 to 10, is here.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Great Day, Maybe.

I just finished writing a post about how great a day I’ve been having. I was worried I might jinx it by declaring it, but what the hay, I’m happy and grateful.

My first day of NANOWRIMO is going well. I found a file that I had thought was lost for good. My charting is working out except the Post-it papers keep falling off. I guess I should’ve spent more on them.

The best part of the day thus far is a brand-new five-star review for Sing the Planets. Check it out TEACHERS ESPECIALLY.

Format: Paperback

Song, hand and body movements, mnemonics and more—Sing the Planets: An “I’ll That” Book by Bonnie Ferrante is sure to be a hit in the classroom and at home. This gem of a book is perfect for reaching readers and listeners of diverse learning styles. Ferrante not only includes the sheet music for the song, she has also produced a YouTube video (you’ll find its web link in the book), making it easy for teachers and parents to get the kids singing and swinging, enthusiastically performing hand and body movements to the tune. Sing the Planets not only includes detailed information about the eight planets (explaining that Pluto is no longer listed among them), it presents information about the entire solar system and includes mythological details about the origins of the naming of the planets. The illustrations include photos taken by NASA and other space agencies. Ferrante not only makes learning about the planets easy to remember—she makes it memorable! I highly recommend Sing the Planets to elementary teachers, librarians and to parents as well. ~ Bette A. Stevens, author of award-winning picture book Amazing Matilda (Children’s Literature): The Tale of A Monarch Butterfly and other books for children and adults
 
Click here for more information or to buy the book. It is available in paperback and ebook (great for projecting onto classroom screens).
Now for the ironic part. As soon as I tried to post this, it disappeared into the nether land that is lost files. So, here I go attempting post number two.

The Pocket Mommy by Rachel Eugster. Illustrated by Tom Goldsmiths. Book Review.

For those of you preparing little ones for school, here’s an extra book review that just might interest you.

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 Click here to buy The Pocket Mommy

This is a lovely little book to give to a kindergarten child who is experiencing separation anxiety. Samuel tells his mother, “Mommy, I hate it when you leave me at school. I wish you were the tiniest mommy in the world, so I could keep you in my pocket all day.” His mommy pretends to slip a tiny mommy into his pocket. When the pocket mommy becomes real, Samuel is happy to have her company and assistance. But she soon starts to be a problem and by the end of the day, Samuel is glad to see her go. On the way home with his actual mother, he says, “Maybe I just need you to do your mommying at home.”

I really like the idea of a pocket mommy. I see nothing wrong with giving a picture of yourself to your child, or drawing a little mommy together that she can keep in her pocket. After a few days of using the mommy, this should be a great book to read and share a laugh with your child.

The illustrations are all double-page spreads with words imposed on a background. They’re black outline with watercolor, giving the book a gentle, intimate feeling.

I can see why this book has been so well received.

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Make your own pocket mommy. Take a photo of your entire body. Have it developed or print it on medium heavy stock paper. Cut it out and give it to your child.

Cafe Press118784649-13816863Kids’ Clothes, School Supplies

 

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Shop Amazon – Parents and teachers, find your school supply lists in one place

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Shop Handmade – School supplies

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

ATTENTION TEACHERS: Sing the Planets ebook release

planets cover with border

Announcing the publication of Sing the Planets as an ebook teachers can project onto their screens. It’s easy to teach your class about our solar system using the song and motions explained in this book. You’ll be surprised how quickly they remember the order of the planets and the meanings of their names, as well as the difference between inner and outer planets. Additional information is included. Suddenly, learning about the planets is fun and utilizes several learning styles. Available Sept. 17.

Watch a video of the first verse on YouTube.

Preorder your copy here on Amazon.

planets pg 3         planets pg 4

 
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Squire, Preston. Isecas the Dream Cat and the New School. Illustrated by Dixie Albanez. Book Review.

Click here to buy Isecas The Dream Cat: And The New School (The Dream Cats Book 1)

Sahar is new to Canada and worried about school so Lodi gives her a dream cat. “It makes your fondest wish come true.”

The toy cat, which is wrapped in bandages like a mummy, comes alive and speaks to Sahar. It hides in her backpack and accompanies her to school. The cat watches through the classroom window and communicates with Sahar telepathically. Most of the time he gives her the correct answer to the teacher’s questions, but sometimes he is wrong. Afterward, Sahar asks Isecas why he sent incorrect answers to her. He explains that he knows nothing of math; he plucked the answers from Sahar’s thoughts. Sahar realizes she is smarter than she believed.

In the afternoon, Isecas tells her other student’s thoughts. Sahar discovers she has much in common with a new girl from Peru named Carmen. They become friends. But then, Melissa, a popular girl starts to bully Sahar. By providing Sahar with Melissa’s inner thoughts, Isecas helps Sahar understand Melissa’s insecurities and connect with her as well.

After school, Isecas tells Sahar, “You answered all those questions, you made friends with Carmen, and it was you who stood up to Melissa. You could have done it at any time. It was always within you to do.”

Sahar’s confidence in social situations and her attitude toward school and living in a new country change from fear to excitement.

This would be a wonderful book to give a child who is facing integration into a new school, neighborhood, country, or group. It provides the opportunity to discuss important social skills as well as the significance of attitude.

Dixie Albanez’s illustrations are wonderfully expressive. Her cute drawings portray Sahar’s emotions clearly. The cat has the mystery of ancient Egypt and the charm of a cuddle buddy.

My only qualm with this book is the name of the cat, Isecas. How do you pronounce it? Children will definitely stumble over this word. At the very least, the author needs to provide a pronunciation guide.

I was given an e-book for review.

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Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Picture Book You’ve Always Wanted

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So, it’s day 17 of PiBoIdMo, a spinoff of NaNoWriMo. I participated in NaNoWriMo twice in the past, an event wherein people try to write the first rough draft of a 50,000 word novel in the month of November. This year I decided to try PiBoIdMo since my days are pretty busy babysitting my little granddaughter and I’ve been focusing this year on creating picture books. Picture Book Idea Month couldn’t be that hard, could it? Every day, I must come up with an idea for a new picture book. Sounds simple. Ha!

Fortunately, just as I hit a wall, today’s blog from Writing For Kids While Raising Them http://taralazar.com/2014/11/17/piboidmo-day-17-deborah-underwood/#comment-86759 gave me a great idea for how to get great ideas. Ask.

So, for you parents, grandparents, and teachers out there, this is your moment to put a bug in a writer’s ear. What topics have you looked for in children’s picture books and being unable to find? What idea would you really love to see in a picture book? What type of books do your children or students search for and never find enough?
Tell me your ideas, no matter how small. It can be a title for a book, a concept, a character, a place, a question,… Whatever you’d like to see me try. So jump right in with your comments.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

 

Jones, China. Alex and The Lion. Book Review.

Alex wishes for a lion for his birthday. Alex brings the lion to school but instead of roaring it meows and licks his face. Instead of roaring, it lays down and sleeps. So Alex roars and the children roar back. They all go off to play hide and seek.

Illustrations in this book are charming, bright and expressive.

Sadly, the ending is confusing. All the children are gone and only the lion is left. Is this supposed to mean the lion ate all the children? Did the lion con everyone by pretending to be meek and mild just so he could get them alone and devour them all? It doesn’t help that the last picture is of a different part of the playground. Or, has there never actually been a lion?

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Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages