Review by Megan Litwin
You Are a Reader!/You Are a Writer! by April Jones Prince and illustrated by Christine Davenier (Margaret Ferguson Books, 2021) is a book for readers and writers everywhere. Its “two-books-in-one” design cleverly shows that readers are writers and writers are readers, and the acts of reading and writing are all around. From recipes to signs, from thank you cards to songs, there are so many ways to be a reader or writer. With a bouncy beat and lively illustrations showcasing all sorts of creative endeavors, there is an infectious joy to this book. And as a former teacher who was deeply engaged in the joyful work of growing young readers and writers, this book spoke to me like an encouraging classroom mantra. You CAN. You WILL. You already ARE…
Writers of all ages would do well to read Prince’s pages on being a writer. To begin, she notes the importance of looking and listening well, no matter what you’re doing. “You’re a writer everywhere” is a beautiful (and empowering) statement. She devotes a whole page to her signature “juicy words.” And on that pesky topic of writer’s block, she has a few tricks up her sleeve.
Yes…whether a beginning or seasoned writer (or reader), there will be stumbles. But this book makes every writer-reader feel like they have the power to fly.
Find out more about April at www.apriljonesprince.com/ and browse Christine's beautiful art at www.christinedavenier.com/
SALAMANDER SKY, by Katy Farber
Review by Annie Cronin Romano
I have been reading nonfiction picture books more and more often these days. Most have been biographies, but this week I read a nonfiction science picture book, SALAMANDER SKY (Green Writers Press, 2018), that shares a different kind of experience: the springtime migration of the spotted salamander. Through the eyes of a young girl, the reader sees her excitement about witnessing the salamanders’ night journey and her determination to help keep them safe on their travels.
Author Katy Farber uses a narrative writing style to share information about the spotted salamander and the reason for its migration. These scientific facts are folded neatly into the narrative in a manner easily relatable to children. Using soft, appealing illustrations, illustrator Meg Sodano captures the story-like presentation without sacrificing detail.
SALAMANDER SKY is an ideal addition to elementary classrooms and complements several areas of the science curriculum. Young ones will be grabbing their flashlights and begging to scout out the spotted salamanders on rainy April nights! And any book that can spark that interest in a child is worthy of a spot on the bookshelf!
SALAMANDER SKY is a nonfiction nature picture book for children ages 4-8 years old.
By telling the story from the perspective of a young girl, Katy Farber makes this nature topic appealing to young readers and students. The portrayal of the child helping the salamanders safely navigate back to the water gives children an understanding of the importance of conservation and a knowledge that they can make a positive difference in the lives of nature’s creatures.
For more information on Katy Farber’s work, visit her website at www.katyfarber.com.
For info on Meg Sodano’s work, visit her website at www.msodanoillustration.com.
Review by Annie Cronin Romano
I must admit, I don’t gravitate to the nonfiction shelves of the children’s section very often. But recently, I’ve been checking out an increasing quantity of nonfiction biography children’s books to read as mentor texts for a project. And it has been an amazing journey of discovery!
Why hadn’t I lingered around those children’s nonfiction shelves more in the past? There are some fascinating and well-written books there! It was difficult to choose just one title for my book pick this week.
Fear not! I narrowed it down and selected the inspiring picture book biography I DISSENT: RUTH BADER GINSBURG MAKES HER MARK (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2016), by Debbie Levy.
Levy not only highlights the life events and remarkable career of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, but she also brings light to the importance of fighting for equality and pursuing your passions in life no matter the odds. Told in relatable language, which include some of Ginsburg’s school-aged experiences and feelings that most children are sure to relate to, Levy shares with energy and light humor the story of the first Jewish woman (and second woman overall) to serve as a justice on the United States Supreme Court. Elizabeth Baddeley’s spirited illustrations and bold use of text illuminate I DISSENT in a manner certain to draw in young readers. The writing and the illustrations work together to convey the vital message that disagreement doesn’t have to be mean-spirited, and voicing your own beliefs can lead to worthwhile outcomes.
I DISSENT: RUTH BADER GINSBURG MAKES HER MARK is picture book biography for children ages 4-8 years old.
With I DISSENT, Debbie Levy has written a strong, inspiring biography which is accessible and interesting to young readers. Far more than a timeline or string of factual events, I DISSENT tells Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s story with heart and personality. This makes the biography relatable, especially to children who may feel their dreams are beyond possibility. For writers, it is a strong mentor text for picture book biographies as Levy covers the the major events and shaping influences of Ginsburg's life without the story feeling watered down, and she tackles sensitive topics in a kid-appropriate manner.
For more information on Debbie Levy’s work, visit her website at http://debbielevybooks.com.
For more infomation on Elizabeth Baddeley’s work, visit her website at http://ebaddeley.com.
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