We love STEM books! Any book that encourages kids to make, tinker and discover gets two trunks up in our book, and this new STEM book, Be a Maker, by Katey Howes and illustrated by Elizabet Vukovic, is a total winner!Read More
Do you love funny children’s books that will make you laugh out loud?! So do we… and we have got the best picture book to start off your year! Interrupting Chicken and the Elephant of Surprise may just be the best sequel ever. Check it out!Read More
If you love kids books about kindness and you are working hard to teach your child about always using kind words and having a kind heart, then you’ve got to check out this amazing book, BE KIND!Read More
We spend a significant amount of time impressing upon our children those qualities we hope they eventually embody: kindness, respect, honesty, self-confidence. We do everything we can to teach them right from wrong, to be upstanders in their classrooms and to be selfless in their actions. Our goal is to create a generation of gracious, honest and generous leaders, children who grow into adults that want to both BE good and DO good. In light of our current climate, though, there’s something else we must strive for, something that holds equal importance.
We are privileged to live in a country where we can make our voices heard. We have inalienable rights, we have freedoms, and we have the power to elect representatives. So how do we make sure we raise children that understand these rights, participate in the democratic process and also take an active role in protecting and defending our freedoms?
You may think it’s way too early to talk to kids about the government, our political process, and the United States Constitution. But guess what? We can so easily bring these topics down to levels children understand by relating this subject matter to their everyday lives. Kids have school rules they must follow every day (just like real “laws”!) They have leaders that make decisions for them (school principals- who, in their young eyes, are virtually akin to the president!), and they even have their own version of elections (student government, starting as early as kindergarten!)
The point? Even young children can grasp the basics of our government and the importance of protecting the fundamental ideals our country was founded upon. Midterm elections are fast approaching, making it a perfect time to talk with your kids about how our government works, why we vote, how we got the right to vote and how we choose which candidates we want to represent our voices. This is not just important - it is essential if we seek to forever safeguard our constitution and the healthy functioning of our government. We’ve been reading a lot in our house, and from fun fiction picture books for your littlest kids to non-fiction works for your older children, Happily Ever Elephants has a new list to help provide you with some fabulous books to explain democracy in action. We sincerely hope you enjoy this list, share it widely, and, most importantly, vote on November 6!
Grace for President, by Kelly DiPucchio and illustrated by LeUyen Pham: When Grace learns there has never been a female president, she takes matters into her own hands and decides she must be the next president of her school. Grace thus enters the race, only to find herself running against another student who claims to be the “best man for the job” and has already captured all of the boys’ votes. Instead of getting nervous, Grace buckles down and runs on the platform that she is the best “person” for the job - and she may have just what it takes to go all the way!
President Squid, by Aaron Reynolds and illustrated by Sara Varon: What makes a good leader? Is it the size of his house? The tie he wears? Having a book named after him? President Squid is satire at its finest, providing young readers with a keen look at the qualities needed to be the big boss. We use this book frequently at school to discuss the important qualities any leader must possess, whether in the classroom or in the White House.
Duck for President, by Doreen Cronin and illustrated by Betsy Lewin: Duck isn’t happy with life on his farm, so he takes matters into his own hands and organizes an election for a new leader. Who wins? Duck wins! But Duck’s ambitions don’t end at his farm alone. He next makes a run for governor and then for president… and through it all Duck learns that being a leader requires quite a lot of hard work.
Vote for Me, by Ben Clanton: This is quite the satire on the current state of American politics, featuring a donkey and an elephant in the throes of an election. It is a witty take on the nomination process and the negativity that often prevails, showcasing how absurdities are made prevalent and how mud-slinging tactics are often utilized to make a candidate’s case. Is this the right way to campaign? Does it detract from the real issues? This is a fabulous picture book for prompting important discussion with your older readers.
What’s the Big Deal About Elections, by Ruby Shamir and illustrated by Matt Faulkner: I absolutely adore this non-fiction book. It is jam packed with information and is fabulous for kids of all ages - just pare it down for your younger kids, or go over every important word with your older ones. This book is as fun as it is informative, featuring not just information about voting rights, our branches of government and the role of the electoral college, but also wacky facts and trivia to delight readers of all ages. This is a must for every home and library!
Lillian’s Right to Vote: A Celebration of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, by Jonah Winter and Shane W. Evans: This is a powerful historical picture book about a 100 year old African-American woman who makes a long trek up a steep hill to vote for the very first time. As she walks, she remembers her family history — from the passage of the fifteenth amendment to her parents registering to vote, from the impossible tests given to prevent blacks from voting to marching in the civil rights protest from Selma to Montgomery. Moving, lyrical and tremendously important, this is a fabulous glimpse at American history.
So You Want to Be President, by Judith St. George and illustrated by David Small: Take a walk through the first forty-one of our nation’s presidents, including wacky “tips” to abide by if you want to make it to the White House and some of the zaniest characteristics exhibited by our leaders. A fun and funny read with some fabulous information!
If I Ran for President, by Catherine Stier and illustrated by Lynne Avril: What would it take for you to run for president? A lot of hard work, that’s for sure. This is a fabulous primer for young readers about how one runs for president. What is a caucus? What is a primary? What is a debate? Simple answers to these questions, with fun and humor inserted throughout the pages, make this book a winner.
If I Were President, by Catherine Stier and illustrated by DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan: Whereas If I Ran for President talks about actual campaigning, If I Were President discusses what happens when you make it to the Oval Office. From promising to protect the Constitution to the perks of being president to the notion of creating laws for the entire country, this is a simple and fun overview of the presidency for young readers.
Around America to Win the Vote: Two Suffragists, A Kitten and 10,000 Miles, by Mara Rockliff and illustrated by Hadley Hooper: In 1916, two women set out on a mission— to drive 10,000 miles across America to make their voices heard. What message did they want to share? That women should have the right to vote, of courses! This is a fascinating look at a fascinating journey during the women’s suffrage movement, featuring two strong women who would brave all the elements to further one singular, critical cause: equal voting rights for women. Lively and vibrant, this book rocks!
When you Grow Up to Vote: How Our Government Works for You, by Eleanor Roosevelt, Michelle Markel and illustrated by Grace Lin: This is a phenomenal, updated reissue of a chapter book that Roosevelt first wrote in 1932 when her husband was elected president. The book talks about something many children don’t always recognize- the government works for the people! The book begins by talking about government workers, then moves through explanations of our local and national governments, thus providing young people an exemplary overview about how our government is designed to function. A wonderful, informative and easy to understand book for your tweens!
I kind of hate Halloween. Every year as my friends eagerly plan their kids’ costumes – and sometimes, even their own – I groan inwardly and secretly count the days until November 1st. Maybe my parents scarred me for life when they dressed me, at three, in a yellow pillow case, slapped a pink bow on my head, and called me Ms. Pac-Man (35 years later, my mom insists on defending this costume).
Or maybe it’s the simple fact that Halloween in Miami, when temperatures are near ninety and the humidity is thick enough to wear its own witch’s hat, is anything but fun when dragging two sweaty little boys by the hands for blocks and blocks and blocks.
It inevitably goes something like this…
Part one: Halloween Ecstasy! My boys toddle from house to house with their friends and cousins, ring doorbells, shout with glee when they get a pack of “NNMs” and try to stealthily eat all of their candy as they traipse down one walkway and up the next. But then we come to…
Part two: Damage Control — that moment when the curtain falls on Halloween and the chocolate smeared all over their faces turns muddy as crocodile tears fall from their no longer sparkling eyes. The kids dash back down a walkway, their capes, glasses and other essential costume parts catapulted in a million different directions, screaming their heads off because the last house gave them – gasp! – an organic pack of raisins and a container of Oral-B dental floss. And when they finally calm down, one has to pee and the other wants water, and I’m calculating the time it will take to finish the street, get back in the car, drive home, and get them bathed. Then, of course, we come to…
Part three: Bedtime. And, you guessed it. The joke is most definitely on me.
Though I pride myself on creativity, my boys’ Halloween costumes have been sorely unoriginal. I’m hardly a Pinterest perfect “Spooktacular Snack” maker, and I’m definitely not one who decorates the outside of my house with a scary landscape sure to make the neighborhood kids scream. I do carve a mean pumpkin, though. And when my kids are excited because their friends are excited and they want nothing more than to get into the Halloween spirit, there is one thing I do enjoy– and I enjoy it tremendously.
What’s that, you ask?
I break out all of our spooky-but-definitely-not-scary books, where monsters and witches and ghosts creep across the pages and make my kids squeal with their deliciously monstrous fun. Though these books contain characters we usually think are “scary,” each story will surprise your family with valuable lessons about creativity, friendship, and empathy. These messages are valuable all year round, not just during Halloween season! Without further ado, here are our favorite books about monsters, witches, ghost, and other ghouls. Enjoy!
Monster Trouble!, by Lane Fredrickson and illustrated by Michael Robertson: Poor Winifred Schnitzel can’t seem to get rid of the neighborhood monsters that creep into her room at night and desperately try to scare her silly. Can she make them go away with a kiss?
How to Make Friends with a Ghost by Rebecca Green: What happens when you come face to face with a scary ghost? Make sure to grab this book if you want to have the essential tips handy, because some ghosts may simply need a friend. If you are sweet and warm and kind, I suggest you be on the lookout because a ghost may find you soon!
Crankenstein, by Samantha Berger and illustrated by Dan Santat: Even the sweetest kids become Crankensteins, from dusk till dawn, in rain, in heat and – most certainly – when standing in long, long lines. Beware the cantankerous Crankenstein!
Vampirina Ballerina, by Anne Marie Pace and LeUyen Pham: A young ballerina struggles to fit in when she can only take dance class at night and fights urges to take nibbles out of her fellow dancers. Will the delicate vampire become the prima ballerina she desires?
Creepy Carrots!, by Aaron Reynolds and illustrated by Peter Brown:Jasper rabbit loves carrots, especially the ones that grow in Crackenhopper field. He can never get enough of them, but will his greed become his undoing as the carrots begin to haunt him? Make sure to also check out the second tale about Jasper, one of our new family favorites— Creepy Pair of Underwear!
How to Scare a Ghost, by Jean Reagan and illustrated by Lee Wildish: This Halloween, you are guaranteed to be the one doing the scaring, not those daunting ghosts! Read this book for the ultimate list of tips to frighten your ghouls— and then have some fun with them too.
Quit Calling Me a Monster!, by Jory John and illustrated by Bob Shea:Even monsters try to buck stereotypes. Poor Floyd Peterson wants nothing more than to tell his readers that not all monsters are bad, even though they have fangs and crazy hair and clompy feet. Didn’t you know that monsters have feelings too? Won’t you just give him a chance?
Leo: A Ghost Story, by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Christian Robinson:A little ghost’s attempts to welcome the new family in his home are sorely misunderstood. Leo gathers he is unwanted and decides to leave. He meets a new pal on his journey, and using his wits, Leo teaches others that he is more friend than foe.
I Need My Monster, by Amanda Noll, illustrated by Howard McWilliam:When Gabe, the monster that lives under Ethan’s bed, goes on a fishing trip and won’t be back for a week, Ethan knows he’s got no chance of falling asleep without Gabe’s familiar breathing in his room. Ethan takes it upon himself to interview creatures that might hide under his bed temporarily, but will they be scary enough to do the j
Bone Soup, by Cambria Evans: Finnigan the skeleton is known for being greedy and having an insatiable appetite. When he arrives in a town replete with witches and ghouls, not a creature in site will share their food with him. How will he entice them to give him some grub? Stir up a magical bone soup, of course.
Bonaparte Falls Apart, by Margery Cuyler and illustrated by Will Terry: Oh, sweet Bonaparte! The skeleton’s bones seems to fall apart more than they stick together, making it awfully hard for him to get a hold of himself and make new friends. Luckily, with the help of pals Franky Stein and Mummicula, Bonaparte finds a way to keep himself in one piece.
Boo Who?, by Ben Clanton: It’s hard being the new kid in town, especially when that new kid is a ghost who has trouble playing games with the other neighborhood creatures. But even the ghost on the block can find a way to play, and he just might find that his greatest deficits are also his biggest strengths.
The Monsters’ Monster, by Patrick McDonnell: What do you do when your mean, mean monster always seems to remember his manners? Take him up on his offer to share a warm jelly doughnut!
My Teacher Is a Monster! (No, I Am Not.), by Peter Brown: Bobby has the worst teacher in the world, and she is, most definitely, a monster. But when he runs into Ms. Kirby at the park and a fierce wind blows away her hat, a turn of events helps Bobby realize that Ms. Kirby may have more bark than bite.
Room on the Broom, by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler: A generous witch makes room for helpful animals on her broom until the broom is so heavy, it breaks. When a dragon comes for the witch, all the little animals join together to scare the dragon away.
She Made a Monster: How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein, by Lynn Fulton: This is a fascinating picture book biography about the woman who created Frankenstein, a monstrous figment of her imagination that has lived on for more than 200 years.
The above links to Amazon are affiliate links. HEE received some, but not all of these books from the publishers. However, all opinions expressed herein are entirely our own.
So many of you have asked about books to help you discuss the news with your kids. Why? Because no matter whether we like it or not, we all experience the same thing, time and time again. Some day, somewhere, something happens and we feel immobilized by grief, anger, and even helplessness. Our kids understand that something in the news has affected us profoundly, but it’s not always easy (or age appropriate) to tell them about the latest current event. So what do we do? What do our KIDS do?
In Sarah Lynne Reul’s The Breaking News, a child’s community is rattled when devastating news strikes it at its core. The news leaves the adults in the neighborhood exhausted and distracted. At school, the child's teacher tells her class to look for the helpers in times of distress. The girl wants to be a helper. She wants to help her family and her community in as big a way as she can- until she realizes that maybe one small act of kindness is all she needs to do to make a difference.
I absolutely adore The Breaking News. I love how it offers a child-centric perspective on family and community upon the receipt of bad news as well as the manner in which the child seeks to positively impact her community afterwards. Though our children may not always understand the “adult” events that happen around the world and even in our own backyards, they are undoubtedly impacted by our distress. Many of these kids don’t know how to help, but they so desperately do their best to try. The Breaking News beautifully illustrates that kids may not be able to fix major challenges, but they can absolutely contribute to brightening the world around them in small, simple ways. This is a timely story that parents and teachers will want in their collections for those tough situations when our own words fail us but a perfect book opens the door for education and understanding.
Want the book? Get it here! The Breaking News by Sarah Reull. *This is an affiliate link.
There's this funny thing about kids today that I don't really remember from when I was younger. Everyone seems to be overscheduled. Between sports practice and tutors and language lessons and music lessons and theater lessons and voice lessons, when do we expect our children to play? Play, after all, is what childhood is all about - that's where the magic happens, where kids come into their own and learn who they are and develop cognitively, emotionally, creatively, and even physically. Perhaps that's why I so loved Moon, the new book written and illustrated by Alison Oliver, illustrator of the prominent babylit board book series.
In Moon, Moon is a young girl who leads a busy, busy life between school, homework, music lessons and other afterschool activities. One night, though, she goes astray when she happens upon a wolf. The wolf takes her deep into the forest where Moon gets a little lesson in letting loose -- how to be wild, how to be free, and how to howl. And once she learns how good it feels to live a little, Moon doesn't want to let go.
Oh, what a joyous book Moon is! At a time when our children seem to carry the world on their shoulders, this is a glorious story reminding both kids and parents alike to take a step back, breathe, and play. Today's society seems to be putting way too much pressure on children to succeed at such tender young ages, and we are forgetting a very basic but extremely important notion: let them be little! Let kids be KIDS! With its simple text and stunning illustrations, Moon is a lovely celebration of play, nature, and the revitalizing affect that embracing our inner wild can have on our well-being.
Want the book? Get it here! MOON, by Alison Oliver. *This is an affiliate link. HEE received an advanced copy of this book, but all opinions expressed herein are entirely our own.
How many of you have kids who so desperately want to help you out with something ... but instead of helping, they end up creating total chaos instead? And then you don't know whether to laugh or cry -- laugh because the mess they've caused is just so awful that laughing is the only way to keep you from yanking every last strand of your hair out, or cry because it really is THAT AWFUL and you want someone else to fix it so you can simply slink to the ground in defeat? Sound familiar? If so, then Edie is Ever so Helpful, the latest by Sophy Henn, author-illustrator extraordinaire, is a must for your collections.
In Edie is Ever so Helpful, sweet Edie is helpful to everyone around her. In fact, helping is one of the things she is just the best at! Edie is all about using her voice, helping in the kitchen, making sure all the kids are having fun on the playground, and gathering everything her Daddy needs at the grocery store. Every once in a while, though, she may need a bit of a reminder that sometimes, she doesn't need to be quite so good at helping others.
If you want a book that is as charming as it is, well, helpful (no pun intended), Edie is an absolute must. Sometimes the manner in which our kids and students want to assist us simply isn't helpful at all, but it is so challenging to explain this to a little one. Edie is Ever so Helpful is the perfect book to have on hand when you need to gently tell your kids that their way of helping may not be exactly what you need at the moment, but they are no less loved and appreciated for their attempts. When you pair this message with Henn's whimsical art that allows kids to recognize through illustration how Edie's actions may be anything but helpful, you've got an instant winner. Two trunks up!
Want the book? Get it here! Edie is Ever So Helpful, by Sophy Henn. *This is an affiliate link. HEE received an advanced review copy of this book, but all opinions contained herein are expressly our own.
It's Wednesday, and I decided to join in the #wordlesswednesday fun today, because I have some new gorgeous wordless books that I can't wait to share. I know, I know. Wordless books can be intimidating, no doubt. But a good wordless book is worth its weight in gold. Why? With no words, children have to study the illustrations to pick up on story elements. They use their own language to tell the story, and they experiment with beginnings, middles and endings. Through details in the story, kids pick up on important tools such as emotions, weather, and catalysts for particular actions taken by the characters. And most importantly, kids are able to use the powers of their own imaginations in connection with the illustrations to tell their rendition of the story.
Wallpaper, by Thao Lam, is an absolute wonder! This is the story of a young girl who moves with her family to a new home. Outside her window, the child sees some other kids her age in a treehouse, but she is too scared to say hello. With nothing else to do, she picks at a torn piece of wallpaper in her room, and a fantastical journey suddenly ensues. What happens when she discovers a monster on her journey? She's scared, of course, until she realizes the monster simply needs a friend. And he may be just the creature to give her a hefty dose of courage to survive her new circumstances.
If you are new to wordless books, Wallpaper is DEFINITELY one to begin with -- and I don't say that lightly. The collaged illustrations, to start, are breathtaking. Wallpaper also has a clear beginning, middle and end, making it easy for kids to explain what they believe is happening. More importantly, however, the illustrations are concrete enough to give important context, but whimsical enough that kids can be creative with the story. Wallpaper is a unique, and uniquely beautiful, approach to the classic subject of making friends, and I cannot wait to share this one with my students.
Want the book? Get it here! Wallpaper, by Thao Lam. *This is an affiliate link.
If you are interested in additional wordless books, make sure to check out our reviews for these fabulous options: Wolf in the Snow by Matthew Cordell, The Farmer and the Clown by Marla Frazee, and Pool, by JiHyeon Lee.
I always wanted a treehouse as a child -- a treehouse with a staircase to the sky, where I could watch the world like a robin, read my books, and write my stories. It never happened, though. The swaying palm trees in our backyard weren't the most conducive for such a hideaway, my parents told me, so I had to resort to reading about them instead. Oh, how I wish I had Everything You Need for a Treehouse back then! It would have been the perfect antidote for my treehouse-less backyard. Why? Because it is just as magical as I imagine the real thing to be. Magical and mysterious and, no ifs ands or buts about it, absolutely perfect.
In Everything You Need for a Treehouse, lyrically written by Carter Higgins and exquisitely illustrated by Emily Hughes, readers are given "instructions" on what they need to build a treehouse, beginning with time, a look up, and a hefty imagination. The book breathes life into each and every requirement for the house - from gnarled timber to making sure it's tall enough to see sun speckles up close, to a swing and rope and "twisted twine of spun sugar and sap." Together, the story and illustrations sing. Together, they spark magic, ignite imagination, and capture the enchantment and wonder a treehouse rouses in children and adults alike.
Everything You Need for a Treehouse is genius. It's cadence is impeccable, making it a read aloud gem for storytime. The language and vocabulary is challenging yet accessible, so it works just as well for older elementary children as it does for the younger set. The illustrations are unbelievably breathtaking, with details to pore over on every page. And the lyrical prose reads like a dream, one you want to immerse yourself in again and again. Simply put: I may not have had a treehouse as a child, but, my goodness, I certainly do now. Everything You Need for a Treehouse is pure picture book perfection. Without a doubt, this is my favorite release of 2018 to date. Don't walk, run to the bookstore to get this beauty today!
Want the book? Get it here! Everything You Need for a Treehouse, by Carter Higgins. *This is an affiliate link. HEE received an advanced copy of this book, but all opinions expressed herein are entirely our own.
It's April once again, which means its one of my favorite times of the year: National Poetry Month! Let's be honest: I'm far from an expert on poetry. I'm not super well versed in the form, and though sometimes I "get it," other times, I simply don't. That being said, I do find magic in poetry, even the poems that don't resonate as much as others.
Poetry makes you think.
It makes you wonder.
It makes you feel.
Whether a verse leaves you laughing or crying, scratching your head in confusion or marveling at the notion that someone else's words can capture the very essence of your being, poetry is an art form all its own that has a unique ability to set a child's imagination soaring.
Here are some of our very favorite poetry books - the ones that make us giggle til our tummies hurt or delight us with their beautiful imagery. Happy reading!
Daniel Finds a Poem, by Micha Archer: This has become the book I use to introduce National Poetry Month to my early elementary students, and every time I use it for a read aloud, it never fails to get a round of applause by each of my classes. This is a beautiful story for any child who asks you that all-important question "what is poetry?" Take your little ones on a walk through nature with Daniel and some animals, and delight in each animal's description of what poetry is to him. A forever fave!
Wet Cement: A Mix of Concrete Poems, by Bob Raczka: Concrete, or shape poetry, is always a joy to introduce to my students. They ooh and ahh over the pictures, marveling at the way the words are arranged to take the form of familiar objects. This book is a favorite in our school, and we always use it as an introduction before drafting our own concrete poetry.
I'm Just no Good at Rhyming: And Other Nonsense for Mischievous Kids and Immature Grown-ups! by Chris Harris and illustrated by Lane Smith: If you like Shel Silverstein, this new poetry collection is an absolute must. We couldn't get through some of these poems without totally cracking up, and I was blown away by the wit, creativity, word play, oxymoron, and amazing interplay between the words and the illustrations. A uniquely genius collection that is equal parts novel and nonsense.
Read Aloud Rhymes for the Very Young, by Jack Prelutsky and illustrated by Marc Brown: We read this book every night for months when my littlest was born, languishing in the lovely rhymes and delightful imagery. This is a wonderful anthology for your littlest readers; the poems are short, simple and sweet, making them perfect for tiny babes and toddlers.
Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reverso Poems, by Marilyn Singer and Josee Masse: My students are absolutely enamored with these reverso poems, which can be read in the traditional manner (from beginning to end) and then in reverse. The poems work both ways, and some of them take on deliciously new meanings when read from bottom to top. Kids will pore over the magic in each poem, and they especially love how this particular book tackles fairy tales head on.
When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for all Seasons, by Julie Fogliano and illustrated by Julie Morstad: Everyone knows I adore this team, and this book simply sings. Beautiful poems spotlighting random days throughout the year convey the beauty of each season. Both starting and ending on March 20th, this is a perfect read to celebrate the wonder of each new season - and to help kids learn the seasons' unique characteristics, too.
Poems to Learn by Heart, by Caroline Kennedy and illustrated by John Muth: This is a beautiful compilation of poems, both by modern and classic poets, that help kids and families celebrate the smallest to the most momentous of occasions. A stunning collection exploring emotions big and small, this is a perfect book for your library.
Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets, by Kwame Alexander, Chris Colderley, and Marjory Wentworth and illustrated by Ekua Holmes: This is a gorgeous tribute to twenty famous poets that have inspired each of the three authors. The poems are all original pieces but pay homage to these revered poets, emulating their styles and voices. An original and ingenious gem!
Where the Sidewalk Ends, by Shel Silverstein: This classic is a must for all bookshelves. It's highly imaginative and loads of fun, and the quirky poems will be ones your children will remember forever. Who else can recite all of the words to Sick? If you love Where the Sidewalk Ends, make sure to also check out A Light in the Attic, and Runny Babbit.
Bravo! Poems About Amazing Hispanics, by Margarita Engle and illustrated by Rafael Lopez: This striking collection features both stunning illustrations and biographical poems about 18 famous Latinos, from baseball players to botanists to musicians. The poems celebrate their renowned historical contributions, as well as the impacts they continue to have on their vibrant and evolving community today.
Hi, Koo!: A Year of Seasons, by Jon J. Muth: Featuring 26 haikus about the four seasons, the well known panda from Muth’s Zen series journeys through the year. This is a fresh take on the traditional Japanese haiku, inviting young readers to stretch their creative muscles as they explore the inviting natural illustrations and simple, yet pitch perfect, prose.
One Last Word: Wisdom From the Harlem Renaissance, by Nikki Grimes: One Last Word pairs the voices of the Harlem Renaissance with Grime's unique words. Utilizing a method known as the the "Golden Shovel," Grimes' poems incorporate original stanzas from master poets into new and inventive pieces perfect for your upper elementary students. The result is astonishingly beautiful: poems that resonate deeply with the reader and touch upon issues that still plague society today - issues such as racial injustice, identity, and peer pressure.
Playing and watching sports has forever had a unique ability to bring people together in ways that so few other things can. Rooting for a common cause, just for fun, through sun and rain and everything in between, can transcend differences and create commonalities where some never saw them before. Perhaps this is why I so loved The Field, the beautiful debut picture book written by Baptiste Paul and stunningly illustrated by Jacqueline Alcantara.
In The Field, a group of children assemble on a field and get ready for a game of soccer. They have their bol (ball), soulye (shoes) and goal (goal), and just like that, they are off! They kick the ball back and forth, passing and running and jumping until the skies burst open and the ground is deluged with rain. But do they stop? No! They just take their shoes off and keep on keeping on. It's only when their Mamas call for them that the game is paused, they quit for the night and go home to their beds where they dream about futbol, friends and the field.
Paul grew up in Saint Lucia, and I absolutely love the way he made his childhood come alive through The Field. He weaves Creole words into the narrative, bringing such a richness to the text. The story buzzes with energy, from the vibrant illustrations to the fast paced game, and it reminds us that we can weather all challenges, no matter how daunting or challenging they may seem. A beautiful debut -- and I cannot wait to see more from these two!
Want the book? Get it here! The Field, by Baptiste Paul, illustrated by Jacqueline Alcantara. *This is an affiliate link. HEE received an advanced copy of The FIeld, but all opinions contained herein are expressly our own.
Jeffers does it again! I was so fortunate to receive a copy of his latest release, Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth, a beautiful ode Jeffers penned for his child in which he tells his son all the important things he needs to know about the world around him. What a stunner this is. As much as the prose is simplistic perfection, Jeffers truly outdoes himself with his new book, in which his magical illustrations showcase his extraordinary talent, not just as a picture book illustrator, but as a fine artist.
In Here We Are, Jeffers seeks to answer all of those bewildering questions a new arrival to our planet may have- questions about space and sea, people and animals. From taking care of our bodies to taking care of each other, the book handles each of these concepts with such a light, delicate touch -- though with enough wit thrown in to keep it fresh and unique. Most importantly? The book sensitively illuminates that kindness makes the world go round, and it reminds us that on this great planet of ours, we are never truly alone.
This gorgeously illustrated story is a must for your collections, for it answers simple questions, not with formalistic responses, but with fun and age appropriate wisdom. This is such a treasure for your home and library collections, one you will return to again and again with your children. A tender, joyful and beautiful read -- one that gets two enthusiastic trunks up from our team.
Want the book? Get it here! Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth, by Oliver Jeffers. HEE received an advanced review copy of this book, but all opinions expressed herein are entirely our own.
Oh how I love books about strong, geeky, girl inventors! Magnolia Mudd and the Super Jumptastic Launcher Deluxe will now sit on our shelves alongside books like Rosie Revere, Engineer, Ada Twist, Scientist and The Most Magnificent Thing for its quirky, spunky protagonist. Magnolia Mudd is a girl who would prefer to tinker with gizmos and gadgets in an effort to launch a wedding bouquet high into the air rather than walk that same bunch of flowers down an aisle in a girly dress. What a romp this adorable story is!
In Magnolia Mudd and the Super Jumptastic Launcher Deluxe, written by Katey Howes and fabulously illustrated by Valerio Fabbretti, Magnolia Mudd is devastated when she learns her favorite inventor, Uncle Jamie, is marrying Miss Emily. Miss Emily, simply put, ruins everything. When Magnolia is asked to be in their wedding, her uncle promises that being a flower girl isn't the only important job in a wedding. With help from none other than Miss Emily, Magnolia designs the best ever bouquet launcher that utilizes a heck of a lot of Mudd power. Maybe just a little too much...
Magnolia Mudd and the Super Jumptastic Launcher Deluxe is an adorably fun read that subverts traditional gender roles and lets girls be the star of the STEM show. From her laboratory to her sketches to the fractions and space posters hanging in her room, Magnolia stands out as a plucky character who will not be held back by frilly dresses or fancy ribbons when there are nuts and bolts to be tightened. This is a must for your library collections, and especially for those girls who prefer bolts to barbies and blasters to bouquets. Two trunks up!
Want the book? Get it here! Magnolia Mudd and the Super Jumptastic Launcher Deluxe, by Katey Howes. HEE received a review copy of this book from the publisher, but all opinions expressed herein are entirely our own.
My grandparents met when they were only kids, living in Chicago the 1930s. Gigi taught Poppy how to dance; they met at his first lesson, and the rest (as they say) is history. Shortly thereafter Poppy broke barriers when he went to college—he was the first Jewish boy to receive a basketball scholarship to DePaul University. Poppy was a brave, moral man who always stood up for the underdog and championed those values he held dear. When he went off to fight in WWII, he was put in charge of a camp for prisoners of war. What did he do? He fashioned a basketball court for the men at the camp so they could entertain themselves. Humanity, he said. Even when the world disagreed on the very fundamentals of our rights as human beings, he thought it critical to treat each other with kindness and respect.
I've always cherished this story about my grandfather -- and I've always loved the way oral storytelling can shape and mold our lives as we try to embody the most beloved virtues of our ancestors. Perhaps this is why I so connected to Islandborn, the exquisite new picture book by one of my favorite authors, Pulitzer Prize winning Junot Diaz, and exquisitely illustrated by Leo Espinoza. In Islandborn, Lola's teacher asks the students to draw a picture of the country from which they immigrated. But Lola, perplexed and upset, can't remember The Island where she was born; she left when she was just a baby. She thus begins speaking with relatives and friends to learn more about her homeland. And as she hears story after story of The Island, Lola quickly understands that "[j]ust because you don't remember a place doesn't mean it isn't in you."
Islandborn is positively incredible! I love how Lola feels increasingly connected to her island the more she learns from her loved ones. I love how she suddenly sees, hears and tastes her birthplace, this place that is the essence of her core. More importantly, I love the various ways you can use this text in your homes and classrooms to help your children connect with their pasts, because their family stories will undoubtedly mold their futures. You can so easily guide children to learn about their ancestors, cultures, countries, and even the history and politics that shaped their families' daily lives. Read Islandborn and then have your students explore! You can use simple prompts for younger kids ("interview a family member about an experience that shaped his/her childhood") or go deeper for older children ("how did the political climate of your grandparent's home country shape his/her upbringing?") The information they learn can be used to write narrative essays, illustrate a picture book like Lola, or even create video presentations using apps like 30hands. The possibilities are endless. This is what happens when a phenomenal book finds its way into your hands. You can't stop thinking about it, and you want to use it to enhance learning in every way possible. Thank you Junot Diaz for this treasure!
Want the book? Get it here! Islandborn, by Junot Diaz. *This is an affiliate link. HEE received a review copy from the publisher, but all opinions expressed herein are entirely our own!
Are your kids getting you down because no matter how hard you try, you just CAN'T GET THEM OUT OF YOUR BED?? Well, then, you must check out The Big Bed, a hilarious new book by Bunmi Laditan (yes, Laditan of Honest Toddler fame!), for some great belly laughs with your little ones.
This month over @kidlitpicks, we're sharing the best books about art. Now, I know I may be interpreting "art" a bit differently than the rest of my pals, but the first time I read The Big Bed, I laughed so hard and thought to myself, wow - this child's argument is truly a form of art. Why? It's simple: her powers of persuasion are bar none. Learning how to compose a persuasive argument is undoubtedly "art," and Laditan's book, illustrated by Tom Knight, is a brilliant mentor text to help children learn about this type of critical thinking.
In The Big Bed, a young girl has no interest in sleeping in her own bed in her own room (*ahem* nope, can't relate to that one at all!) So what does she do? She comes up with a winning argument and the perfect solution to her own problem: she gifts her dad a camping cot and attempts to convince him why he should no longer be sleeping in his own big bed where he belongs. From the girl's well thought out arguments to her validation of her father's feelings, The Big Bed will have you laughing from start to finish. Will she prevail? You've got to get it to find out!
I mean, how many of us exhausted parents are trying to get our kids out of our beds and into their own? The Big Bed offers a hilarious twist on this all-too-common nighttime scenario, and the manner in which this creative kid argues the reasons why her father should sleep on a cot rather than in his own bed are downright ingenious. If you are teaching persuasive writing in your classrooms, your students (no matter their ages) will laugh out loud at the child's inventive - not to mention rock solid - arguments. While they are laughing, though, they will also learn a thing or two about persuasive writing, including how every winning argument must be supported by valid evidence. Such a treat!
Want the book? Get it here! The Big Bed, by Bunmi Laditan. *This is an affiliate link. HEE received an advanced copy of this book, but all opinions contained herein are expressly our own.
The Invisible Boy is one of the most phenomenal picture books about friendship, the power of kindness, and the significance of making sure no one child is ever made to feel invisible. Check it out!Read More
We are so excited for the third post in our new blog series here at Happily Ever Elephants - cover reveals! What is a cover reveal, you ask? Cover reveals happen several months before a new book hits the shelves, and they provide a wonderful avenue for authors and illustrators to share a sneak peak at their upcoming release(s) with their audience. The front cover of a book is, for all intents and purposes, the first page of the story. It communicates to the audience a bit about the pages inside, and it must be compelling enough to draw a reader's attention. From the cover alone, readers often get a sense of the story's genre, tone and writing style. A cover often makes a strong emotional appeal to the reader, thus getting the reader excited about the book pending release. Need I say more?
We are so excited to introduce you to Camille Andros and Julie Morstad for our third cover reveal. How lucky am I to have these two on Happily Ever Elephants? I absolutely adored Camille Andros' debut picture book, Charlotte the Scientist is Squished (check out our review here!), and it was one of the first books on my Best Picture Books of 2017 list. The manner in which Camille simultaneously delighted and educated children was brilliant. And Julie Morstad... ohhhhhh, Julie Morstad! I am so in awe of her work, and let's be honest - if I am ever lucky enough to publish any of my writing, she is my dream illustrator! I fell head over heels with her illustrations in This is Sadie, one of my favorite picture books from 2016. And now, without further ado, let me introduce you to their new collaboration: The Dress and the Girl.
THE DRESS AND THE GIRL,
by Camille Andros & Julie Morstad
A little girl and her favorite dress dream of an extraordinary life. They enjoy simple pleasures together on a beautiful Greek island. They watch the sunset, do chores, and pick wildflowers on the way home. One day, the dress and the girl must leave the island and immigrate to the United States. Upon arrival, the girl is separated from the trunk carrying her favorite dress, and she fears her dress is lost forever. Many years later, the girl—now all grown up—spots the dress in a thrift store window. As the two are finally reunited, the memories of their times together come flooding back. While the girl can no longer wear the dress, it’s now perfect for her own daughter—and the new journey of a girl and her dress begins. Featuring lush illustrations, The Dress and the Girl is a stunning picture book about memory and the power of the items we hold most dear.
ABOUT THE NARRATIVE:
CAMILLE IN HER OWN WORDS
The first book I ever seriously tried to write was The Dress and the Girl. I started and stopped lots of projects over the years, but this one haunted me until I got it right. There were two main events that brought about its genesis.
Tenish years ago I was invited to a fancy tea party. One of the guests came wearing a gorgeous vintage 1950’s dress. I Immediately wondered where this dress had been and what stories it would tell if it could. That thought stuck and I began filling up my notebook with ideas. The second event was when my husband and I had the opportunity to visit his parents in Greece where they were living at the time. We visited the small mountain village my husband’s Great-Grandfather left as a nineteen-year-old boy to come to the United States. He was one of eleven children and never saw the rest of his family again. I met my husband because his Great-Grandfather made that huge leap into the unknown to start a new life, and my family today exists because of him.
So, The Dress and the Girl combines these two thoughts and life experiences to give the reader a story of a young girl, her favorite dress, and the journey life takes them on.
ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATIONS:
JULIE IN HER OWN WORDS
The initial thing that grabbed me about this manuscript was the opportunity to draw a small Greek island - I love Greece. It was one of the first places I ever travelled to, and I felt compelled to depict it. I also loved the idea of getting to draw the people who would be coming off the boats at Ellis Island in the early 20th century. I had seen so many beautiful, colourized photographs of immigrants from Greece in their traditional clothing, and I couldn't wait to get started on the research and drawing of that. And they turned out to be my favourite spreads in the final book.
And now, Happily Ever Elephants is proud to present the cover for The Dress and the Girl:
I mean, this cover blows me away. Could it be any more stunning? I love it! And now... lets go under the cover with Camille and Julie.
UNDER THE COVER: Speed Interview!
Round 1: Camille
1. As a kid: books or basketball? BOOKS!
2. In college: study or soiree? Soiree.
3. To start your day: coffee or tea? A run :)
4. In your car: top 40 or podcast? Podcast
5. Writing schedule: 9-5 or whenever it fits in? Both!
6. What came first: character or setting? Character
7. First draft: sloppy or sleek? Sooooo sloppy
8. Writing reward: vino or vanilla? Chocolate :)
9. On your nightstand: Newbery or Pulitzer? Newbery
Round 2: Julie
1. As a kid: books or basketball? Pencil and paper
2. In college: study or soiree? My art school experience: study and raise a small child :)
3. To start your day: coffee or tea? Tea
4. In your car: top 40 or podcast? More like bickering kids and top 40 (their choice, of course!)
5. Writing schedule: 9-5 or whenever it fits in? Both
6. What came first: character or setting? Setting
7. First draft: sloppy or sleek? Sketches are a little sloppy.
8. Writing reward: vino or vanilla? Potato chips 100 percent always!
Thanks, Camille and Julie! The Dress and the Girl will be published by Abrams Books for Young Readers and released on August 7, 2018. You can preorder directly from Abrams!