Friday, June 15, 2007


SCHOOLYARD RHYMES: Kids’ Own Rhymes for Rope Skipping, Hand Clapping, Ball Bouncing, and Just Plain Fun

Sierra, Judy. 2005. SCHOOLYARD RHYMES: Kids’ Own Rhymes for Rope Skipping, Hand Clapping, Ball Bouncing, and Just Plain Fun. Ill. by Melissa Sweet. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 0375825169

This is a collection of 50 chants, and rhymes that can be used for jumping rope, hand clapping games, or simply sharing and repeating with friends. Rhymes include some old favorites and some new twists—maybe some verses you didn’t even know existed.

Melissa Sweet’s water color and pencil illustrations which often incorporate the text of the rhymes—sometimes in silhouettes, sometimes in clothes, sometimes in jump ropes—bring action a humor to the chants. Rhymes are grouped by topics such as underwear, (always a favorite), animals, food, etc. Kids will love reading this book for the lyrics as well as to see how this version differs from their own.

Horn Book (September/October, 2005)
Kids will enjoy this celebration of naughtiness and childhood fun.

School Library Journal (October 1, 2005)
The rhythms and nonsense rhymes are irresistible, compelling memorization and participation in the fun.

Other similar books:
Red Hot Peppers: The Skookum Book of Jump Rope Games, Rhymes, and Fancy Footwork by Bob Boardman

Hand Clap! "Miss Mary Mack" and 42 Other Hand Clapping Games for Kids by Sara Bernstein

Anna Banana: 101 Jump Rope Rhymes by Joanna Cole


Young, Ed.1992. SEVEN BLIND MICE. New York: Puffin Books. ISBN 9780606246712

Seven blind mice venture out one each day of the week to explore a strange new something by their pond. Each returns with only their partial description of the something. It isn’t until the seventh mice, the only female I might add, explores the whole something and combines the partial descriptions into a whole description of the elephant.

There are so many subtle lessons in this book, I discover a new one each time I read it. The paper collage illustrations are profound and stand out vividly, as does the simple white text, on the dark black background. The book begins with a lesson on perception when only the tails of the primary colored mice are revealed on the first page. Next a piggy-backed stack of mice venture out one-by-one to explore the elephant-something. Needless to say, their limited interpretations of the something are colored as they are—red pillar, green snake, etc. It isn’t until the seventh day that the white mouse, the female ventures to explore the whole. (Isn’t it amazing that when all the primary colors of the spectrum are reflected one perceives white.)

Caldecott Honor Book

Kirkus starred (1992)
A many-talented illustrator (Lon Po Po, 1989, Caldecott Medal) uses a new medium--collage--in an innovative reworking of "The Blind Men and the Elephant," with splendid results: a book that casually rehearses the days of the week, numbers (ordinal and cardinal), and colors while memorably explicating and extending the theme: "Knowing in part may make a fine tale, but wisdom comes from seeing the whole."

School Library Journal (April 1992)
K-Gr 3-- A real winner, on many levels. The first impression is visual delight. Brilliant colors and varied textures of paper collage are placed in striking contrast against velvety black pages.

This book could be used for lessons including colors, cardinal and ordinal numbers, days of the weeks, not to mention the lesson with which the story ends: “Knowing in part may make a fine tale, but wisdom comes from seeing the whole.”



Ketteman, Helen. 1997. BUBBA THE COWBOY PRINCE: A FRACTURED TEXAS TALE. Ill. by James Warhola. New York: Scholastic Press. ISBN 0590255061

Bubba worked hard on his wicked stepdaddy’s ranch while his spoiled, lazy stepbrothers do nothing. When the “purtiest” and “richest” gal in the county, Miz. Lurleen, throws a ball to find herself a “feller”, Bubba is forced to help his wicked stepdaddy and his lazy stepbrothers get ready and has no time or energy to get ready himself. Bubba’s fairy godcow appears and with a little magic polishes Bubba right up for the ball. He makes quite an impression on Miz Lurleen. But when the clock strikes twelve and Bubba makes a quick exit, he inadvertently leaves behind his boot. Miz Lurleen searches far and wide and is finally reunited with Bubba. Needless to say they live happily ever after.

This adaptation of the classic fairytale, Cinderella, takes a decidedly Texas bent. Ketteman is obviously from Texas. She didn’t miss one opportunity in the setting or the dialogue to add the Texas flavor without having to leave out any of the characteristic good-wins-over-evil of the traditional fairytale. The characters as they traditionally do come in two varieties—all the way good or all the way bad. Warhola’s illustrations lend mightily to the Texas theme from the Alamo settee to the cactus hat rack.

School Library Journal
This is a fun-filled story with more hyperbole than a Christmas turkey has stuffing.

Publishers Weekly (November 17, 1997)
While spoofing Cinderella is not a new idea, Ketteman and Warhola's (Aunt
Hilarity's Bustle) well-matched flair for hyperbole gives both the narrative and
illustrations a one-two punch. Just the ticket for buckaroos lookin' fer a good
read. Ages 5-8. (Nov.)

Comparing and contrasting versions of Cinderella can be an informative excursion into literature and culture. Readers who enjoyed this Ketteman/Warhola production may enjoy reading their AUNT HILARITY’S BUSTLE.

Monday, June 11, 2007


Henkes, Kevin. 2004. Kitten’s First Full Moon. New York: Greenwillow Books. ISBN 9780060588298

Kitten mistakes the full moon she sees for the first time for a bowl full of milk which she really wants. Her persistent attempts to reach her goal only leave her wet, exhausted and hungry. When she returns to her home after her tiring attempts, she happily finds what she wanted all along.

Henkes’ simply black and white drawings lend to the charmingly simple story by expressing the emotions of anyone trying over and over to attain something they really, really want. The bright white kitten and big, full moon create an engaging contrast against the soft, black night and lend a large part of the telling of this simple storyline following Kitten’s attempts. The expressive illustrations of the naive kitten alternating with the simple phrase, “Still, there was the bowl of milk, just waiting”, lead the reader along the frustrating journey.

Booklist starred (February 15, 2004 (Vol. 100, No. 12))
Working in bold black lines and the silvery palette of moonlight, he creates a lovable, expressive character in the determined kitten, and his dramatic contrasts of light and dark capture the excitement of a nighttime adventure.

Kirkus starred (February 15, 2004)
. A keen sense of design uses double spreads and panels to depict the action and Kitten's puzzlement.

2005 Caldecott Award Winner

Kevin Henkes, long known for his mouse characters in Lily’s Purple Plastic Purse, now takes on the character of a charming little kitten. This cute story will delight early elementary readers and could be used as a springboard for a character lesson on perserverance.


Book Review: Picture Book - Click, Clack, Moo Cows That Type

Cronin, Doreen. 2003 Click, Clack, Moo Cows That Type. Ill. by Betsy Lewin. New York: Simon & Schuster Children’s. Books. ISBN 0689832133

When Farmer Brown refuses to meet the demand of the cows on his farm for electric blankets, they go on strike posting a typed notice to the barn door that there will be no more milk. The next day another typed notice adds that the hens also would like electric blankets and that no eggs will be forthcoming. Farmer Brown submits his own demand for eggs and milk via a message by duck, a neutral party. Duck delivers an agreement from the cows to hand over their typewriter in exchange for electric blankets to be left at the barn door. But the duck who is to deliver the typewriter delivers instead a typed demand by the ducks that Farmer Brown provide them a diving board.

This Caldecott Honor book delights readers with its understated humor. Betty Lewin’s line and water color illustrations enhance the story as the plot presents repeated surprises—first from farm animals typing and making demands to the final twist of the duck’s demand. This story has a lot to say about communication. And the illustrations of the personified farm animals lend a great deal to conveying the attitudes and emotions of the farm animals as well as those of Farmer Brown. (Some students may not be familiar with manual typewriters—or typewriters period for that matter.)

REVIEW EXCERPTS: Horn Book (March/April, 2000)
The story is told in economical prose, with the typewritten notes blended smoothly into the text. Betsy Lewin's illustrations, splashy watercolor washes, follow Farmer Brown from perplexed to perturbed, with his angry reaction to the cows' demands silhouetted against the barn door while the animals peek out with bovine passivity.

They may have never heard the racket of a real typewriter, but they will certainly be familiar with the art of negotiation, and will soon be chanting along: "Click, clack, moo. Click, clack, moo. Clickety, clack, moo."

This book can be used to discuss the negotiation and communication required in personal disagreements or civil disputes or simply read for the fun and pleasure of the unusual storyline itself.
Other books by the Cronin/Lewin team:

Click clack, quackity-quack : an alphabet adventure
Click, clack, splish, splash : a counting adventure
Duck for president
Giggle, giggle, quack


Cummings, Pat. 1992. Talking with Artists. New York: Bradbury Press. ISBN 0027242455


The interviews of 14 well-known illustrators of children’s picture books reveal interesting personal vignettes about the illustrators’ interests and beginnings. Each illustrator writes a personal biography in the “My Story” at the beginning of each interview with Pat Cummings exploring topics such as how the illustrator’s career began, what their interests are, what their daily schedules are like, and where illustration ideas come from. Some early artwork of each illustrator is shared as well.

Conversations with Victoria Chess, Leo and Diane Dillon, Richard Egielski, Lois Ehlert, Lisa Campbell Ernst, Tom Feelings, Steven Kellogg, Jerry Pinkney, Amy Schwartz, Lane Smith, Chris Van Allsburg, and David Wiesner form the content of this book. The questions posed in the interviews are some of those most often asked by children, such as what pets do you have? What is your day like? Consequently, budding artist/illustrators will find these personal queries highly interesting.

School Library Journal
Young artists will learn a lot; teachers and other children will also love it. Well designed and well conceived, this book will be welcomed in all those classrooms in which children's literature has become central to the curriculum. --Shirley Wilton, Ocean County College, Toms River, NJCopyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Publishers Weekly
Unfortunately, the often poignant reminiscences and outstanding talent on display cannot overcome the book's unimaginative layout and distractingly pragmatic text.

This first volume is followed with two other volumes of similar design by Pat Collins interviewing many other talented illustrators of children’s literature books.