Picture Book Recommendations

Once again work has started back up and everything else falls by the wayside.  I find it incredibly difficult as a teacher to be able to maintain balance between my work life (which is all consuming at the beginning of the year: setting up the classroom, preparing new curriculum & policies, preparing for new students, etc.) and my writing life.  Unfortunately, writing has taken a bit of a rest as I’ve gotten stuck climbing the mountain that is the beginning of the school year. 

SO, in order to continue with my goals, I thought I should update my blog.  And what better way to do so than to share some of my favorite stories for kids that I’ve discovered this summer.  I’ve been reading and researching picture books for over a year now.  I’ve found many favorites (some old, some new) that I’ve either simply read and enjoyed, made studies of (because they were so amazing), or bought copies of for my classroom to share with my students.  The three stories I will share today are in the last category, and one is not strictly a book.

First, there is the relatively new book “Herman and Rosie” by Gus Gordon (from Australia!).  It is a charming tale (with a very high word count–a rarity in picture books these days) that tells the story of two lonely city dwellers (one a crocodile, the other a deer) with a shared passion for jazz music.  It pinged my adult heart, and I’m curious if it will really appeal to children (as the characters strike me as more adult-like, not child-like).  I loved it so much I bought a copy for me and have taken it to the classroom, though I’ve not had a chance to read it to the kids yet.

http://www.amazon.com/Herman-Rosie-Gus-Gordon/dp/1596438568

Second, there is an older book “When Dinosaurs Came with Everything” by Elise Broach (and illustrated by David Small).  It’s a fantasy “what if” plot where a little boy keeps getting free dinosuars all day (at the dentist, with donuts, etc.).  I found it so hysterically funny that I had to buy a copy to share with my kids.  I just knew that this was such an absurd plot that they would find it as amusing as I did.  I’ve not yet had a chance to test that theory, but the other adults I’ve shared it with have laughed over it as well.  Time will tell.

http://www.amazon.com/Dinosaurs-Everything-Junior-Library-Selection/dp/0689869223

Finally, this last one is actually a bit of a multimedia one.  It was a Pixar short film (“Lava”) at the beginning of the movie “Inside Out.”  I LOVE Hawaii (I’ve been there 4 times now) and have made a habit of collecting Hawaiian picture books (as well as some of the music).  It is stunningly gorgeous and it is one of many Alaskan’s favorite winter retreats (the winters here are SO very long).  That being said, the artwork of the film was jaw droppingly beautiful.  I knew it was Hawaii before the reveal happened.  And it’s such a simple plot about a lonely volcano longing for love that I’m a bit abashed that I never thought of it myself.  I bought a copy of the song and have played it so many times I almost have all the words memorized.  Well, there’s a picture book on iTunes that you can buy to read along (and look at some of the artwork) while playing the song.  It’s the second best thing to the actual short film itself (which I predict WILL win the Oscar this year!).  I’ve played it for my neices (they love it) and my students (they love it and asked if they could possibly sing it in the talent show this year–that’s a first!).  This is just the song on YouTube, but look up the picture book on iTunes my friends.  You will not regret it.  Such a simple story that TEACHES nonfiction!  Amazingly brilliant!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-7mRPjfeJ38

Those are just three of my favorite summer finds.  Maybe I will continue to share some of my favorite discoveries from my studies as I go along.  Keep posted.  ;)

About jenabenton

I'm an elementary school teacher, writer, illustrator and storyteller.

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