Author/Illustrator Spotlight: Patricia Polacco

I have a handful of favorite children’s authors/illustrators- Cynthia Rylant, Eric Carle, Gail Gibbons, and Lois Ehlert. However, my favorite author of all time is Patricia Polacco.

Polacco came from a family of storytellers.  She used many of these childhood oral stories and her imagination to begin writing children’s books at age 41.  Most of her books draw on inspiration from her own life and her rich cultural background.  Polacco has written and illustrated over 50 books!

Here are a few of my absolute favorites.

Thank You Mr. Falker

Patricia Polacco didn’t learn how to read until she was 14 years old.  It was a wonderful teacher who discovered that she had dyslexia.  This book is a tribute to that teacher, Mr. Falker.  This great teacher not only recognized that there was a reading problem and got help for Polacco, but also addressed a boy who was teasing this young girl because she couldn’t read.  The book is a powerful story for children with reading problems and those that are being teased.  It also makes a wonderful gift to a teacher who has made a difference in your life.

Thunder Cake

As a child, Polacco feared Michigan thunderstorms.  In this story, her grandmother distracts  her with the idea of baking a cake during this type of weather.  Polacco and her grandmother gather ingredients from the farm to prepare the cake.  As they enjoy a warm slice of cake, grandmother points out that only a brave girl could gather all of the items from the farm during the loud thunder.

At the end of the book is a recipe for Thunder Cake with one odd ingredient- tomatoes!

The Lemonade Club

Many of Polacco’s books have powerful messages which is one of the reasons that I love them so much.  In The Lemonade Club, two 5th grade best friends are faced with a challenge when one of them is diagnosed with leukemia.  They learn that when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade with the help of a teacher and an entire class.

Meteor

Meteor was Polacco’s first children’s book and is based on a true story.  A meteor actually landed in the Michigan town where she lived!  This funny story captures the magic that captivated the town over this event.

When Lightning Comes in a Jar

When Lightning Comes in a Jar is full of text-to-self connections for me.  Every year Polacco’s extended family gathered together and celebrated lots of family rituals that involved Jello dishes (I can relate!) and lots of stories while looking through photo albums.  This particular year, grandma decides to initiate a new ritual of collecting lightning in a jar.  This is one ritual that Polacco loved and continued to pass down to other family members.

I hope you will check out one of the listed books or one of Polacco’s other 45 titles.  I’d love to hear which ones are your favorites.

e everything!

I’m so torn on the topic of ebooks.  My husband gave me a Kindle Fire for Christmas and I’ve had a hard time deciding if I like it or not.  The two biggest perks I’ve found with it are that I can read in the dark without needing a reading light and that it is light weight which makes travelling with it super easy.  My negative list is a bit longer.  I’m a big fan of checking books out from the library.  Unfortunately, many of the titles that I’m interested in reading are not available in ebook format from the library.  I miss browsing through a library, picking up a book, flipping through it and deciding if I want it on my must read list.  Most of all, I miss holding a real book in my hands!  It’s scary to me that bookstores continue to shut their doors.

So, what about ebooks for children?  Will I someday cuddle up with my boys and an ebook version of Green Eggs and Ham?  It seems so odd to me that I might read a book without turning the pages and not enjoying that library book smell.  Do ebooks have a place in children’s literature?

Ebooks for children are rapidly becoming more available.  Up until recently, they were limited to chapter books and text books.  Now, you can find many picture books available and on top of that they are interactive with sound and other enhancements.  However, do all these bells and whistles detract from the pure pleasure of reading a book?

Might ebooks motivate children not very interested in reading?  As a teacher and administrator, I have found that technology can be a great motivator for students who might not otherwise be interested in books.  On the other hand, are we just continuing to promote the downfall of interacting with “real” books?

Classrooms or schools with limited libraries also find ebooks helpful for getting students to interact with print.  There are a variety of websites that allow access to digital books and literacy activities for free or a minimal fee.  Some schools are now doing away with textbooks and issuing ereaders loaded with ebooks.

So, what do you think?  Will ebooks replace hardcopy versions of books?  What role do ebooks play in your life?  Please share your thoughts!

Books to Celebrate Earth Day and a GIVEAWAY

There are so many great books that have been published for children regarding the care of our earth.  It’s actually pretty exciting to see this topic covered so well.  I’ve narrowed down a few of my top picks and hope that you will check them out with your young readers.

The Wartville Wizard by Don Madden

The town is being buried in trash.  Careless citizens are throwing gum and soda bottles on the ground.  One tidy man realizes he has the power to get rid of the trash and teaches the town a lesson.  This is such a fun and silly book packed with a powerful environmental message.

This Is Our Earth by Laura Lee Benson and illustrated by John Carrozza

Benson uses rhythmic verse to paint a portrait of appreciation for our earth at the top of each page.  The subtext at the bottom of each page gives facts to introduce life and earth sciences.  I love the last line, “This is our Earth to cherish and love.  To clean and protect from below and above.”

Our Earth by Anne Rockwell

This story explains how our earth has changed over time.  Islands, glaciers, volcanoes, coral reefs, forests, and caves are all explored in this simple introduction book.

Jack’s Garden by Henry Cole

In the garden that Jack built you will see and meet lots of plants and animals.  Over the course of this cumulative book, you will watch his garden bloom.  This is an excellent book for building vocabulary.

Wilson’s World by Edith Thacher Hurd and Clement Hurd

Wilson sets out to paint a picture and create a story that he titles, “THIS IS WILSON”S WORLD”.  As Wilson adds more and more to his picture he realizes that his “world” is quickly becoming polluted and crowded.   So, he takes out a clean piece of paper and begins to create a world that he really wants to be a part of.  He creates a world where everyone takes care of the environment.

Dear Children of the Earth by Schim Schimmel

This is a letter that Mother Earth writes to the world about the importance of respecting the planet.   Schimmel’s acrylic paintings are a beautiful accompaniment to the poignant text.

City Green by DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan

A vacant lot sits in the middle of a city block.  A young girl has an idea to turn the run-down lot into a green space.   The story blossoms into a whole neighborhood coming together to create this beautiful space.  At the end of this book are tips to starting your own community garden.  I like this book so much that I’m giving one hardbound copy of the book away to a lucky Growing Book by Book reader.

Giveaway Guidelines

You have multiple chances to win a hardbound copy of City Green by DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan.

1.  Leave a comment on this post.

2.  Like Growing Book by Book on Facebook.  Simply use the button in the right hand tool bar THEN, leave another comment saying that you liked Growing Book by Book on Facebook.

3.  Become an email follower.  You can find a spot in the right hand tool bar to fill out your email address to become a follower.  Make sure to leave a comment that you became a follower.

4.  Become a Pinterest follower.  Click the Pinterest button on the right and then click on follow once you get to Pinterest.  Be sure to leave a comment on this post telling me you became a Pinterest follower.

There you go!  Four ways to win!  Entries will be accepted until 4/22/12 (Earth Day!) at 9:00pm (CST).  The lucky giveaway winner will be randomly selected the week of 4/23/12 and announced on this site.  I will contact the winner via email.   I can ship to USA addresses only.   Good luck!

Be sure to check my linky party page to see where I’ve linked up to this week.

3 Fun Announcements

I have three fun things to share!

1.  Congratulations to Debra for winning the first Growing Book By Book Giveaway of the year.  Debra, please email me your mailing address to jheliker@msn.com .  Debra won a hardcover copy of The Random House Book of Poetry.  Stay tuned on April 16th for another giveaway opportunity.

2.  I’m excited to be guest posting at Playing With Words 365 today.  You’ll find lots of information on phonological awareness on the post.

3.  And finally, I’m happy to announce that our family has our newest reader to nurture.  Our second son was born this past Friday.

 

Puppet Shows

Before my first son was even born, my extremely talented mom had made him a puppet theater.   She found the old tv cabinet in a vacant building where it was destined for the dumpster.  With a few materials and a lot of imagination she transformed it into a wonderful puppet theater.  Check out her blog, Zoom In, for step by step directions.  My son is now 17 months old and absolutely loves to play with his puppets behind it.  As he grows, I know that we will do countless retellings of stories as well as many from our own imaginations.

Utilizing puppets and puppet theaters is an excellent way to develop literacy skills including retelling, fluency and expression, writing, comprehension and vocabulary development.  You can tap into those learners who are auditory, visual and/or kinesthetic learners.  The more modes of learning that we use, the better our comprehension!

You don’t need a fancy puppet theater to perform your masterpieces.  You can simply use your couch and let the kids kneel behind it to perform.  Puppets don’t need to be fancy or expensive either.  In fact,  The Chocolate Muffin Tree blog did a fantastic job of compiling 18 Creative Ideas for Making Puppets.  It’s a wonderful resource showcasing how you can make puppets from paper bags, boxes, wooden spoons and more.  You can also check out my puppet show Pinterest board for more great ideas.

Pop some popcorn and settle in for your next puppet show!

Be sure to check out the linky party page to see where this post is linked to this week.

National Poetry Month and a GIVEAWAY

April is National Poetry Month.  To honor the poetry genre, we’ll look at my top ten children’s poetry books.  Plus, one lucky reader will win one of my favorite poetry books!  Drumroll please…

1.  Sing a Song of Popcorn

Not only does it contain a great collection of poetry (over 100 poems), but it also features the illustrations of nine Caldecott artists.  Poems are clustered into topics such as “Spooky Poems” and “Mostly Nonsense”.  It also includes my favorite poem, “Sunflakes”.

2. Hailstones and Halibut Bones

This is a short book that explores the vivid imagery of twelve different colors.   A book for all ages.

 “Black is the night

When there isn’t a star

And you can’t tell by looking

Where you are.”

3. Where the Sidewalk Ends

A favorite poetry list must include something by Shel Silverstein.  The collection is full of humorous poetry with Silverstein’s own illustrations.

4. A Pizza the Size of the Sun

Jack Prelutsky is a well-known children’s poet.  The book contains over 100 humorous poems.

5.  Spectacular Science

Lee Bennett Hopkins selected the poems for this book.  You will find poems about magnets, metamorphosis, snowflakes,  stars and more.

6.  Fathers, Mothers, Sisters, Brothers (A Collection of Family Poems)

Mary Ann Hoberman showcases families in this collection of poems from “Cousins are Cozy” to “When Annie Was Adopted”.

7.  Snuffles and Snouts

A whole book of poetry about pigs!  Steven Kellogg illustrated the collection.  It’s a beautiful and fun book.

8.  At the Crack of the Bat

Just in time for baseball season, Lillian Morrison has compiled over 30 poems about the beloved sport.  Take me out the ballgame!

9.  Monster Soup and Other Spooky Poems

This collection features poets such as Rowena Bennett, Jack Prelutsky, Beatrice Schenk de Regniers and more.  Poems are silly and spooky, but not scary!

10. The Random House Book of Poetry for Children

A powerful duo of Jack Prelutsky, who compiled the poems, and Arnold Lobel, who illustrated the book,  equals one classic poetry book to have in your collection.  It has always been one of my go to resources for great poems.  I like it so much that I giving a copy away to one lucky reader!

Giveaway Guidelines

You have multiple chances to win a hardcover copy of The Random House Book of Poetry for Children.

1.  Leave a comment on this post.

2.  Like Growing Book by Book on Facebook.  Simply use the button in the right hand tool bar THEN, leave another comment saying that you liked Growing Book by Book on Facebook.

3.  Become an email follower.  You can find a spot in the right hand tool bar to fill out your email address to become a follower.  Make sure to leave a comment that you became a follower.

4.  Become a Pinterest follower.  Click the Pinterest button on the right and then click on follow once you get to Pinterest.  Be sure to leave a comment on this post telling me you became a Pinterest follower.

There you go!  Four ways to win!  Entries will be accepted until 4/8/12 at 9:00pm (CST).  The lucky giveaway winner will be randomly selected the week of 4/9/12 and announced on this site.  The winner will have 5 days to contact me with mailing information.  If the winner does not contact me within the given time, another winner will be selected.  Good luck!

And, don’t forget to celebrate Poem In Your Pocket Day on April 26th.  Simply carry around your favorite poem in your pocket for the day and share it with others.

*Check out my linky party page to see where I’ve linked to this week.