Tag Archives: Picture Books

Booklist: Bullying

I’ve been following the case of Phoebe Prince, the 15 year-old Irish girl who committed suicide in January of this year after enduring a months-long bullying campaign staged by her Massachusetts high school peers.

Certainly there are numerous articles containing “tips” on how to identify, cope with and prevent bullying.  This booklist is intended to open up dialogue at various age levels on the subject.

For 4-8 year olds:

Hugo and the Bully Frogs
Written by Francesca Simon
Illustrated by Caroline Jean Church

Hugo is a little frog with a little croak.  He lives in a deep, muddy pond.  And he’s constantly tormented by Pop-Eyes, the biggest, meanest frog Hugo has ever met.  Pop-Eyes snatches Hugo’s toys, calls him names, and drops him head-first into the pond.  How will Hugo ever stand up to such a bully?
4 Flags

The Recess Queen
Written by Alexis O’Neill
Illustrated by Laura Huliska-Beith

Mean Jean dominates the playground.  She goes first at swinging, bouncing and kicking, and no one risks challenging her.  Then a new kid arrives at school.  Katie Sue doesn’t know that Jean is the reigning recess queen.  So what will happen when Katie Sue decides to swing, bounce and kick first?
4 Flags

For Ages 9+

Buddha Boy
by Kathe Koja

Jinsen, known around school as “Buddha Boy,” is increasingly targeted in mean-spirited, violent bullying by the popular crowd.  Read the full review here.
4 Flags

For Ages 15+

by Laurie Halse Anderson

After years of being bullied, Tyler considers using violence to make himself heard.
Read the full review here.
5 Flags

For Parents and Educators

The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander
by Barbara Coloroso

Coloroso discusses in depth the parts enacted in each incident of bullying (including cyberbullying):  the perpetrator, the victim, the bystander, the adults, and the community context.  This book emphasizes ways in which the cycle of bullying can be broken.  Read the full review here.
5 Flags

For Deeper Reflection

Tikkun Passover Supplement 2010 (Click to link to the full text.)

“As we sit at the Seder table we need to discuss how ancient liberation for the Jews can inspire liberation today for all people.”  So begins the Passover supplement.

How are the Seder and Jewish liberation relevant for non-Jews?  Why is this Passover supplement included on a reading list about bullying?

This piece of reflection from Rabbi Michael Lerner calls the Jewish people—indeed, all people– to open “their eyes to the suffering of our brothers and sisters, the Palestinians,”  to “the ways in which we…have been acting as Pharoah to another people.”  Clearly, bullying is not a problem contained on school grounds.

In fact, bullying occurs on school grounds precisely because it happens on a larger scale in our communities.  Prosperous nations bully developing nations, and powerful companies bully smaller businesses.  Certain adults bully those weaker than themselves.

In all its manifestations, bullying is nothing less than a serious form of oppression.  And so discussion of liberation can move us forward, closer to “communal vision of what messianic redemption would look like,” no matter what our particular faith tradition might be.

As Rabbi Lerner writes, “Instead of relying on domination, we know both from our holy texts and from our real-world experience that it is generosity, kindness, compassion, and caring for others that will be the key to our success and survival.”



Filed under Booklists, Non-fiction, Picture Books, Reflections, YA Literature

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Booklist:  St. Patrick’s Day Picture Books
All titles ages 3+

My mom, an Irish New Yorker, picked out these four St. Patrick’s Day books for my daughter this year.  Thanks, Mom!  We love them!

Jack and the Leprechaun
Written by Ivan Robertson
Illustrated by Katy Bratu

A family of field mice are preparing for St. Patrick’s Day in their village in the Irish countryside, and cousin Jack is coming all the way from America to join in the celebrations.  When the family sends Jack out to gather shamrocks for the festivities, Jack encounters a creature unlike any he’s ever seen.  But will his family believe him when he returns to tell his tale?
Little Lit Lover says:  I like the mice and the surprise that Liam the Leprechaun leaves for them.
3 Flags

King Puck Inspired by an Irish festival
Written and Illustrated by Michael Garland

Seamus is a solitary farmer living on a mountain above the town of Killorglin with only his goat Finny for company.  One night a band of fairies casts a spell on Finny, giving Seamus the surprise of his life.  The fairies mischief comes just in time for the March 17th crowning of King Puck, a Killorglin tradition honoring the best goat.  A charming story with beautiful illustrations, and every book lover will love Seamus and Finny’s happy ending.
Little Lit Lover says:  I like finding the fairies hidden in the pictures.
4 Flags

St. Patrick’s Day
Written and Illustrated by Gail Gibbons

A non-fiction narrative that introduces the traditions of St. Patrick’s Day and St. Patrick himself to young readers.  Includes short summaries of legends connected to St. Patrick.
Little Lit Lover says:  I like how St. Patrick talks about Jesus with a shamrock.
4 Flags

That’s What Leprechauns Do
Written by Eve Bunting
Illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully

Ari, Boo and Col have serious leprechaun duties.  They have to place the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  But along the way the three little people can’t resist some silly antics, like tying up long-johns left out to dry and slipping a tennis ball into a hen’s nest.  Afterall, “that’s what leprechauns do!”
Little Lit Lover says:  These leprechauns are funny!  I like what they do to the cow.
4 Flags

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Young Cat Lover’s Booklist (Part 3)

Booklist:  Cats

Ages 4-8, Unless otherwise noted 

Be sure to check out Part 1 and Part 2!

Written by Matthew van Fleet
Photographed by Brian Stanton

A rhyming list of a variety of cats to accompany fantastic photographs.  Pull tabs, flaps and textures enhance the tactile experience of this book.  The highlight:  30+ breeds featured in on the final fold out pages.  Age 2+
Little Lit Lover says:  I like the cat that hides in the boot and the little mouse.
4 Flags

The Cat in the Hat
Written and Illustrated by Dr. Seuss

No booklist on cats would be complete without the most famous literary feline of all!    220—that’s the number of words Dr. Seuss incorporated into this zany story in which, on a rainy day, two siblings are at home alone with nothing to do until a mischievous  cat materializes and proceeds to stir things up.  Excellent reading practice for beginning readers.
5 Flags

Eyewitness Cat
Written by Juliet Clutton-Brock

From the DK encyclopedic series, Cat covers the origins and evolutionary history of cats, the anatomy of cats including their “supersenses,” big cats and their natural habitats, various breeds of domestic cats, and more.  A great reference book most suitable for ages 8+, but also a good way to expose younger children to non-fiction reading.
Little Lit Lover says: I like the page with the cat skeletons where you can see all their bones.
5 Flags

Meet Trouble (All Aboard Reading 1)
Written by Susan Hood
Illustrated by Kristina Stephenson

Young Emily loves her aptly-named kitten Trouble who engages in typical feline explorations in this simple story with rhyming words and repetition to build early reading skills.  There is nothing special about this book, but with so many titles for beginning readers these days, this one is a safe choice for a child who can’t get enough of kittens and cats.  Ages 4-6
Little Lit Lover says:  It’s funny when Trouble tries to get his reflection in the mirror.
3 Flags

Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats
Written by T.S. Eliot
Illustrated by Axel Scheffler

In “The Naming of Cats,” “The Old Gumbie Cat,” “Gus: the Theatre Cat,” and a dozen other charming poems, Eliot celebrates the quirks of a host of loveable felines, reminding readers “That Cats are much like you and me / And other people whom we find / Possessed of various types of mind.”  In this edition, Scheffler’s fresh illustrations breathe new life into a beloved collection.  A great way to introduce poetry to new readers.  Enrich the reading experience by listening to the Cats soundtrack.  Age 5+
Little Lit Lover says:  My favorite poem is “Macavity the Mystery Cat” and my favorite picture is Jennyanydots with the mice.
5 Flags

Too Many Cats (Step into Reading 1)
Written by Lori Haskins Houran
Illustrated by Joe Mathieu

 A woman plays the cello near an open window in her home and the music attracts the cats of the neighborhood that soon join in with music of their own.  A decent beginning reader book that contains a fair number of sight words.  It is not a phonics reader.  Ages 4-6
Little Lit Lover says:  I like when the white cat turns green!

3 Flags

This concludes the young cat lover’s booklist!  “You’ve read of several kinds of Cat, / And my opinion now is that / You should need no interpreter / To understand their character.” ~ from “The Ad-Dressing of Cats” by T.S. Eliot

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Young Cat Lover’s Booklist (Part 2)

Booklist:  Cats

Ages 4-8, unless otherwise noted

Don’t miss Part 1!

Ballet Kitty:  Ballet Class
Written by Bernette Ford
Illustrated by Sam Williams

Ballet Kitty and her two friends, Princess Pussycat and Ginger Tom, are off to their first ballet lesson with Mademoiselle Felicity.  Ballet Kitty has a new leotard, tutu and tights and—of course—ballet slippers that she is excited to wear.  Ginger Tom has new ballet slippers too, but he’s not sure about wearing them for class.  But the three kitties work hard, prancing and plié-ing and pointing their toes.  More about ballet than cats, this is nonetheless a cute story.  A great primer for little dancers about to take class for the first time, and I especially love the inclusion of a boy dancer.  Age 3+
Little Lit Lover says:  I like how they do all the things I do in ballet class:  the positions and plié and tendu! 
4 Flags

If You Give a Cat a Cupcake
Written by Laura Numeroff
Illustrated by Felicia Bond

For some, snack time isn’t a simple matter of giving a cat a cupcake, especially if the cat wants sprinkles with his cupcake.  Before you know it, you’ll have been to the beach, the gym and the museum!  A fun companion book to If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, and observant readers will be able to spot Mouse in this book.  A favorite in our household.
Little Lit Lover says:  I like when the cat rides on a whale and when he tries to carry a lot of stuff.
5 Flags

I Love Cats
Written and Illustrated by Barry Saltzberg

I Love Cats is narrated by a girl in purple pajamas who loves cats of all colors, as well as all standard kitty antics (pouncing, purring, prowling, pawing, etc),  and hopes you do too.  There is no plot to this book, and the pictures are also simple.  An okay book for a beginning reader, but not worth much beyond that.  I’d say this book would delight a young cat lover if discovered in the waiting room at the doctor’s office.  Age 3+
Little Lit Lover says: I like the cat who’s trying to get his shadow.
3 Flags

The Shy Little Kitten
Written by Cathleen Schurr
Illustrated by Gustaf Tenggren

The shy little kitten is born on a farm in a litter of six.  All the kittens live comfortably in the hay barn with their mother until the day they are old enough to line up and venture out.  The shy little kitten hangs back and finds herself at the end of the line.  She is distracted from following her family by a mole who pops up in her path, and quickly falls behind.  Since she can’t see where her family went, the kitten tags along with the mole and they meet a frog, a puppy and a squirrel before the kitten decides she ought to find her mother.  When she does come upon her family, the kitten finds a surprise waiting for her.  Not sure why the kitten is described as “shy” since she’s actually quite curious and adventurous.  This is a decent story, nothing special, with predictable baby animal adventures.
Little Lit Lover says:  I like the part when she meets the mole.
3 Flags

Splat the Cat
Written and Illustrated by Rob Scotton

Splat is nervous about starting school.  In fact he is so nervous he’ll think up any excuse not to go:  no clean socks, bad hair day, lamppost in the way.  When he finally arrives at school, one of Splat’s first lessons teaches that cats chase mice, and Splat’s anxiety grows.  He has his pet mouse, Seymour, in his lunchbox!  What will happen at lunchtime when Splat reveals his friend?  And will Splat ever want to return to school again?  Great harmony between text and illustrations makes this a very entertaining read.  Splat is another great character from the creator of Russell the Sheep.
Little Lit Lover says:  Splat makes funny faces!
5 Flags

Wabi Sabi
Written by Mark Reibstein
Illustrated by Ed Young

Wabi Sabi is a cat from Kyoto, Japan.  When she overhears her master say that her name is hard to understand, Wabi Sabi sets off to consult with some wise animals who might be able to explain the concept to her.  (“Wabi sabi” refers to the notion of finding beauty in the ordinary.)  This book opens vertically, giving each spread the feel of an unfurled Asian scroll. A haiku and Japanese verse appear on each spread, and the collage-style artwork give the illusion of texture and dimension.  Because of the abstract concept behind wabi sabi, this story may not appeal to young readers (hence 4 flags), but it is a gorgeous book that would be enjoyed by anyone with a love of cats and Asian culture.
Little Lit Lover says:  I like to say “wabi sabi!”
4 Flags

Part 3 coming soon!

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Young Cat Lover’s Booklist (Part 1)

When I started jotting down titles I wanted to include, my list was much longer than I anticipated, so I decided to spread it out over three posts.  Here are the first five titles, with comments from the Little Lit Lover, age 4.

Booklist: Cats
Ages 4-8, unless otherwise noted

Dewey: There’s a Cat in the Library!
Written by Vicki Myron and Bret Witter
Illustrated by Steve James

A picture book based on the adult book Dewey: The Small Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by the same authors, this is not so much a story as a lesson on how not to treat a cat.  As a tiny kitten, Dewey is dropped into a book bin at a small town library.  The librarian who finds him takes him in and he becomes the library cat.  For the most part, Dewey enjoys being a library cat.  He loves playing with interesting the things he finds in his new home, like pens, bookcarts, rubberbands, and newspapers.  The things Dewey does not enjoy include being squeezed or pulled or chased by the youngest library patrons.   Nice illustrations that make me (and my daughter) wish that our local library had a cat!
Little Lit Lover says: The best part is when Dewey goes in the small paper bag and looks like a muffin.
4 Flags

How Do Dinosaurs Love Their Cats?
Written by Jane Yolen
Illustrated by Mark Teague

The latest in the How Do Dinosaurs…series, this book addresses proper pet care in a charming way.  “How does a dinosaur play with her cat?  Does she throw pillows at it and act like a brat?  Is the litter box left while she watches a show?  If the kitty complains, does she give it a throw?”  These questions are posed in the opening pages and answered as the story progresses.  A worthy addition to an excellent series that teaches good behavior and manners.  Age 3+
Little Lit Lover says:  I love the silly dinosaur!
5 Flags

The Little Kitten
Written by Judy Dunn
Photographed by Phoebe Dunn

Part of the Phoebe Dunn collection, this book’s charm is found in the photography.  Jenny’s cat has a litter, and the most curious kitten quickly becomes Jenny’s favorite.  Because he is always getting into a “pickle,” that becomes his new name.  Pickle explores indoors and out, encountering other animals and discovering good hiding places.  The text is hardly as engaging as the photographs, giving the book a dated feel.  My daughter enjoys looking at the pictures more than listening to the story.
Little Lit Lover says: I like when Pickles gets into the flour can.
3 Flags

Oscar and the Mooncats
Written by Lynda Gene Rymond
Illustrated by Nicoletta Ceccoli

Oscar has a great life.  He has his boy who always takes care of him, his favorite smelly cat food and his favorite crunchy cat food, his toy mouse, and his spot by the window.  On one especially happy night, Oscar is feeling frisky and leaps up on the table, up on top of the bookcase, up out the window, and up onto the roof of his house  Oscar just wants to keep jumping, and he does—all the way to the moon!  There, Oscar meets the sleek, silvery mooncats who would love for Oscar to join them.  But what about Oscar’s home and his boy?  Now that he’s jumped up, will he ever be able to jump back down?  A delightful tale of  adventure and returning home.
Little Lit Lover says:  My favorite part is when Oscar jumps up on the bookcase.
5 Flags

Sammy Salami
Written and Illustrated by Jerry Smath

Pete Popolis is a hard-working diner owner who could use a hand running things.  One night, Pete discovers a scrawny stray cat in a trash can outside the diner.  Pete takes the cat in and quickly discovers the cat loves salami, so Pete gives him the name “Sammy Salami.”  Pete loves Sammy Salami, but he needs a vacation.  When Pete takes a train to the mountains for a weekend getaway, Sammy is lonely and afraid Pete will never come back.  What will happen when Sammy goes off in search of Pete?  A charming story about the bond between people and their pets.
Little Lit Lover says:  The pictures are good and I like Sammy’s salami dance.
5 Flags

Parts 2 & 3 coming soon!

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Books My Daughter Loves

Here are my 4yo’s favorite books about love:

If You Love Me (DK Publishing)

A seasonal twist on the old kids’ song “If You’re Happy and You Know It.”  The flashing lights and happy animals draw in the preschool set.

Love, Splat by Rob Scotton

My daughter first met Splat and Seymour in Splat the Cat, which is one of her all-time favorite stories.  Here, Splat and his classmates are preparing for Valentine’s Day, and Splat makes a special Valentine for Kitten.  But Spike’s Valentine for Kitten seems bigger and better than Splat’s.  Which will Kitten prefer?

No Matter What by Debi Gliori

Small worries that Large’s love will fade or change, but Large comforts Small and promises to love Small “no matter what.”  I gave this book to my daughter the first time that I had to be away from her overnight, and it is still one of her favorites even though it is a very short read.  A good board book for 2’s and up.

Brava, Strega Nona! by Tomie dePaola

This is a gorgeous pop-up book, and a fun addition to the Strega Nona series.  Strega Nona describes the six essentials for a good life—family, food, friends, celebration, patience, and—of course—love.  We were fortunate enough to meet author Tomie dePaola at a book signing at Jabberwocky.

Final thoughts on reading love tomorrow.

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