I bought this book a month before my baby was born. I originally purchased it because of the rhythm and rhyme. I knew I wanted Harper to be exposed to lots of rhyming books because of what research says about reading books (especially rhyming books) to babies early on.
I loved the bouncy rhythm and fantastic vocabulary.
Everyday, everywhere, babies are dressed~ in diapers and T-shirts, in buntings and sleepers, in playsuits and dresses, in sweaters and creepers.
That's it. That's why I bought the book.
It wasn't until recently (about 18 months after I purchased the book) that I realized how amazing this book is. It wasn't until Harper started bringing the book to me, asking me Weed? Weed? Up. Up. (Read? Read? Up. Up.- meaning pick me up and put me in your lap.)
Here is why I love and Harper loves this book:
1. Bouncy rhythm, fantastic rhyme, great vocabulary.
2. The Lapbook edition is a supersized board book which makes the illustrations bigger and the perfect size to read while a child is snuggled in your lap.
3. The Illustrations! I have to be honest. When I first bought the book, the illustrations didn't catch my attention. I was so impressed with the words that I didn't even bother looking at the illustrations. (Sad. I know.) It took my child staring at them and pointing at images and naming them. Baby! Daddy! Ma! Tree! Lights! Hat! Easy! (Easy is the name that Harper calls our dog and every other dog in the world because when he was little we would tell him "easy" when he would roughly pet Sam.) Or when he would purposely turn back to a page because he wanted to stare at it longer.
3.a. Richard Scarry-esque. These illustrations are so great because they remind me of those old Richard Scarry books I used to stare at as a child. An intricate world with so many details it would take hundreds of rereads and hours before you could ever notice all the details.
3.b. The Diversity. What's amazing is that there is so much diversity in this book. Yet it is subtle in a good way. It's there and it's everywhere! But I say it's subtle because it's almost like it's a book about diversity without being about diversity. It's there. It's everywhere. It's the way the world is. It's the way we live together. This book is a version of everyone's "normal."
4. Great re-read-ability! Which is why I'm writing a review of a book twelve years old. Rereading it never gets old because as previously mentioned the details of the illustrations allow you to discover something new each time.
5. It's a book about babies! Babies love to look at other babies! I had no idea.
So even though this review may be a decade and a half too late, I'm re-promoting this book because my baby absolutely loves it, which makes me love it even more.
Mondays with Mira Reviews Marissa Moss's Fun Middle Grade Novel - Blood Diaries: Tales of a 6th Grade Vampire
Because we have our very first middle grade writing and illustrating course coming up, I wanted to share one of my very favorite middle grade novels, the hilarious yet meaningful Blood Diaries: Tales of a 6th Grade Vampire by Marissa Moss. However, here’s a wee disclaimer, I know and love Marissa and her work. Also, because I want to be able to use these quickie videos to more actively help authors and illustrators support themselves through their work by also posting them elsewhere, I have to shorten them to less than 4 minutes (making brief videos are not one of my super powers) so I'm hoping my skill with brief videos will improve. I'm calling this new series The Quick Peek series. So here goes.
Marissa is pretty brilliant but she also shows in this clever 129 page novel (which is somewhere around 1300 words) how doable and fun writing middle grade novels can be. We'll be looking at this book and others in our Middle Grade Mastery course. Meanwhile, here are some of her many other books - did I mention that she's quite brilliant?
One of the best things we have done this year in our elementary school is a program called Creating a Community of Readers. Our students are challenged this year to read and complete at least 25 on level novels. But the teachers are challenging themselves as well. I'm amazed at the power a teacher holds in transforming a nonreader into a reader. It's really one of the simplest things you can do. And you don't need a reading degree in order to do it. The simple act of actually reading books and genuinely talking about books with students and other teachers has more power than any skill based commercialized reading program ever will.
Before we started this program, I knew it would be powerful. But little by little we are starting to see the effects of it.
Just the other day, one of the teachers I work with told me a story about one of her students. The student used to hate to read. And this year, she told her teacher that she loves reading and that she has read more books in the first 5 months of school than she has read her entire life.
I found the student later that day and asked her what the difference was. How did she become such an avid reader when she used to hate reading. She said, "It's because I was reading the wrong books. Now I've found books that I want to read."
She told me that before she only read because she was assigned reading. Now she loves getting book recommendations from her friends and teachers. Plus she has learned how to try a book out by reading the book jacket and first few pages to see if it's something she is interested in.
Our principal takes a book (middle grade novels that he will be able to recommend to students later) to lunch with him and reads in the cafeteria as the students are eating lunch. Kids have asked him about the books he reads and they want to borrow his books when he is finished with them.
Teachers post what they have read and are currently reading outside on their door. Just the other day our principal stopped in and asked me if I had an extra copy of Wonder because he overheard a girl saying she really wanted to read it, but all the copies were checked out of our library.
In one room, the students are bringing in their personal copies of books that they want their teacher to read so they can talk about the book together.
It's amazing that just by simply reading and talking about books with students and teachers can transform nonreaders into real readers.
Often in education we make things so complex. We spend millions of dollars on remediation programs and workbooks and computer programs that give us reports and data all so we can "cure" the literacy problem in America, when in reality the answer is so simple.
Just read. (And talk about what you are reading.)
Here is my current list:
25 Book Challenge:
1. The Crossover
2. When You Reach Me
3. Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key
4. Fish in a Tree
5. The Fourteenth Goldfish
6. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane
8. Roller Girl
9. Out of My Mind
10. El Deafo
Want to Read:
The War That Saved My Life
(Reread) The One and Only Ivan
Long Walk to Water
There's a Boy in the Girl's Bathroom
The Graveyard Book
Whatever After Series
The Thing About Jellyfish
The Year of Billy Miller
The Great Gilly Hopkins
What books are you looking forward to reading in this upcoming year?
Wowee zowie!! Awesome contributing authors and illustrators to Children's Book Academy courses have been bizzee creating and releasing fabulous books in 2015. In my last post, I shared books published in 2015 from former students right here. If you are up for it, please buy their books to support our contributors who go above and beyond in making our courses one of the most powerful (not to mention fun) ways of building children’s book creatives' careers. If you can, I'd love you to help support another course contributor, Luann Stauss of Laurel Books by ordering directly from her store: http://www.laurelbookstore.com/ She does a ton for kid's book writers and illustrators and is the loveliest person.
So here goes with apologies for not including pictures but this already took 6 hours and I am pooped! In the coming months, I look forward to doing video reviews of some of these great books. A quickie FYI - I’m doing these alphabetically by first name (because I’m just that kind of gal) and linking to their websites. Many of these websites have resources and words of wisdom.
Annie Barrows of Ivy + Bean fame had a new chapter book out - Magic in the Mix, which is a sequel to the Magic Half, along with an adult novel and Spanish language versions of Ivy + Bean books. Way to go Annie!
We got to see another beautifully illustrated book, In the Canyon, from the great Ashley Wolff. Can’t wait to see what she has in store for us this year.
Pretty much everything Barbara Bottner does is golden and Feet, Go to Sleep is no exception for this NYT best selling kid lit treasure.
Brilliant Caldecott winner Bryan Collier’s best-selling new book, Trombone Shorty, received starred reviews from both Kirkus and Publisher’s Weekly.
Candice Ransom, who has written a ton of chapter books, had Pumpkin Day! - a Step into Reading book come out in 2015, and 3 nonfiction picture books- Parts of a Flower, What's Great about Indiana? and Investigating the Water Cycle!
Caroline Arnold has a new nonfiction out in her distinctive picture book style - A Day and Night on the Prairie.
Deborah Hopkinson published more literary (beautifully written) nonfiction with The Great Trouble: A Mystery of London, the Blue Death, and a Boy Called Eel, and Courage & Defiance: Stories of Spies, Saboteurs, and Survivors in World War II Denmark.
Awesome illustrator, Eliza Wheeler, had illustrated chapter book/early middle grade novel Cody and the Fountain of Happiness come out as well as the lovely picture book Wherever You Go.
Gianna Marino’s picture book, Night Animals, received starred reviews from all the major reviewers – Publisher’s Weekly, Booklist, Kirkus, and School Library Journal. It's gorgeous. Yay Gianna!
Jannie Ho also got a shout out in my last post, but she sure is one delightful illustrator.
Jennifer Swanson had two new books out last year - National Geographic Kids Brain Games: The Mind-Blowing Science of Your Amazing Brain and What They See: How to stand out and shine in your new job - with a whole slew scheduled for 2016! Yay Jen!
Super smart Jim Averbeck had both a picture book - One Word from Sophia, and a middle grade novel - A Hitch at the Fairmont came out last year, both were awesome!
Lovely John Hendrix published a drawing book, Drawing Is Magic: Discovering Yourself in a Sketchbook, as well as illustrating the fun picture book McToad Mows Tiny Island.
John Steven Gurney had 2 new chapter books out- A to Z Mysteries Super Edition #8: Secret Admirer and A to Z Mysteries Super Edition #7: Operation Orca, both of which he illustrated :)
Kathryn Otoshi got a shout out in my last post of former student’s 2015 published books as well. She’s pretty special to put it mildly.
The wonderful Lane Smith published Return to Augie Hobble, a terrific illustrated middle grade novel.
Lea Lyon also received a shout out in my last post here for illustrating Laila’s Lunch. Yay Lea!
Lee Wardlaw had a wonderful sequel come out to her original Won Ton – A Cat Tale Told in Haiku. This one, Won Ton and Chopstick: A Cat and Dog Tale Told in Haiku, is just as good.
Lovely uber talented Lisa Brown’s book, with friend Marcus Ewert, Mummy Cat made many best of 2015 picture book lists with good reason.
Marsha Diane Arnold had a banner year with her superb picture book Lost. Found., receiving a prestigious starred review from Publisher’s Weekly and becoming a children’s favorite.
Maya Gonzalez published the picture /chapter book Whaleheart: The Heart of It Anthology #1 with many former Academy students who Maya mentored in this innovative anthology.
Miranda Paul got a shout out in my last post of former student’s 2015 published books as well. Click here to see those.
Patricia Newman published the middle grade nonfiction title Ebola: Fears and Facts, while last years Plastic, Ahoy!: Investigating the Great Pacific Garbage Patch racked up lots of awards.
The great Paul O. Zelinksy’s (another Caldecott winner) illustrated Toys Meet Snow: Being the Wintertime Adventures of a Curious Stuffed Buffalo, a Sensitive Plush Stingray, and a Book-loving Rubber Ball came out as well as an updated reissue of The Wheels on the Bus. See a review of that here.
Big hearted Salina Yoon had Stormy Night come out while her latest picture book (January 5th) Be a Friend is already winning acclaim. Yay Salina!!!
Hardworking super fun Tara Lazar had two picture books in 2015 - Little Red Gliding Hood and I Thought This Was a Bear Book. Both of these were clever mash-ups with deeper meanings.
If you've read any of these or are up for letting us know some of your favorite children's books from 2015, please leave a comment in the comments section below. It means a lot to get responses.
Before I forget, I wanted to give a little shout out for our fabulous Chapter Book Alchemist course starting February 1st for those who want to learn how to write series, or give more depth to slightly longer stories for that magical age when kids are just starting to read on their own, or learn how to illustrate chapter books or middle grade. This will be the last time that award-winning author Hillary Homzie and I co-teach it live so if you’re up for stretching a little and learning to do something completely magical click this link to find out more.
Blogger bio - Mira Reisberg has helped MANY authors and illustrators get published. She has worn just about every hat in the industry including art director, editor, award-winning illustrator and author, kid lit university professor, and literary agent. Mira holds a PhD in Education and Cultural Studies with a focus on children's literature. You can receive a rare live one-hour critique with her (or her co-teacher Hillary Homzie) in the upcoming Chapter Book Alchemist highly interactive e-Course!
We are so excited to be mixing things up at CBA, beginning with some delicious additions to the Blogfish. Meet our awesome new bloggers!!
Here's our lineup:
1st Mondays begin with Clear Fork/Spork editor/art director, former agent and former kidlit professor Mira Reisberg PhD who is also the Director of the Children's Book Academy.
2nd Mondays will feature super smart Melissa Stoller whose career is taking off with several new books.
3rd Mondays will feature Bryan Patrick Avery, published writer, man of mystery, and professional magician among other things.
4th Mondays feature funny Aussie author Sharon Giltrow sharing awesome Aussie books.
And 5th Mondays will feature Libyan American author Koloud Tarapolsi sharing wonderful diverse books.