Book Review: THE QUEEN’S HANDBAG by Steve Antony

The Queen’s Handbag. Steve Antony. Scholastic Press, New York, 2015.

 

 

 

What this book is about

A sneaky swan makes off with the queen’s handbag and she chases the bird throughout familiar British landmarks. Will the Queen ever get her bag back?

What I like about this book

 

VOCABULARY

The pictures are simple pencil drawings but have a lot of action that drives the story on the page. Outside of the text, a child will learn a lot of new vocabulary words from the pictures alone. Carriage, Bobbies, Convertible, Parachute and so much more. In addition, young listeners will learn about important British landmarks and geography through the text on the page. In addition, there is a glossary in the back with each of the landmarks and a brief description of what they are. The synonyms the author uses to mix up the word chase will also lead the listener to learning new words. This book is rich with vocabulary proving even simple stories provide rich ground for learning.

NARRATIVE SKILLS

Another benefit of this story is the strong narrative. The story starts with the Queen losing her handbag and each page builds a sequence of events that leads to her catching the swan and getting her bag back. With each repeated reading the child will begin to guess what the next page holds, adding fun to the story while she learns. Strong sequencing helps build the important Narrative Skills young learners need to become future readers.

PHONOLOGICAL AWARENESS

The way the author plays with words will also help build phonological awareness. He uses alliteration throughout the book to help children hear and break apart the smaller sounds in the words. The strong cadence of the story also reinforces the word sounds. Children also build Phonological Awareness through literary devices like alliteration.

This fun, short story is sure to provide lots of laughs along with a lot of learning.

How to use this book

This story provides not only a fun story but a unique way to experience the culture in a different country. Look for these other books at the library that explore British culture, history and geography. Find a few and read them. Talk about the different places the stories explore. Find a printable map of England here, and put each place you and your child read about on the map.

In the illustrations of the book some of the crowd is waving the Union Jack and the book is all illustrated in the colors of the flag. Checkout one of these books at the library on flags and compare the US Flag to that of England’s. Ask what is the same and what is different about the flags. Find the flag for your state and see how it compares to the US Flag. These types of questions and activities get your child thinking critically about the stories she reads and how they relate to other information she has heard or read.

There are a lot of words in the book your child may not be familiar with.Repetition is the best way for children to learn new words. Print off the pdf below and cut the words into cards. Have your child act out each of the words on the card to help him cement the meaning of the word. Have fun and decorate the cards with the action as well. Make it a charades game as your child becomes more familiar with the words.

Drove (Click on the link to print and download the card PDF)

Make a passport of your child by taking his picture gluing it to a book made out of folded over paper. For each country book you read, stamp the book, just like you would if you traveled into a new country. See how many different countries you can travel with your child this summer!

What to read next

Even young readers can participate with board books! Try out this fun series called Tiny Travelers.

 

What is your favorite picture book about traveling?

 

Happy Reading!!

Book Review: Stanley’s Store by Williambee

Stanley's storeStanley’s Store by Williambee, Peachtree: Atlanta, 2017.

Stanley owns a store and customers come to find what is on their grocery list. This is part of a series of books about Stanley and his friends.

What I like about this book

Stanley’s store is a bright and cheerful vocabulary book that will familiarize kids with products they might find at a grocery store. They will identify with Little Woo who loves to shop and grab all the sweets within his reach. Not only are many of the items found in the store labeled, the author also makes sure to include colors and shapes and textures as well.

The different characters and what they buy at the store also provides a structure to the story that will help build narrative skills. This book provides a lot of opportunities to ask questions. Here are a few to get you started:

  • Who bought the cheese? And what problem did it cause?
  • How would you solve Myrtle’s problem when she buys all of her cheese?
  • Who are you in the story? Little Woo? Hattie? Myrtle? Stanley?
  • What would you buy at the store?

How to use this book

After reading this book take a trip to the grocery store. See if you can find a small independent store that you haven’t been to. If available, find an Asian or Indian or other diverse ethnic grocery store to explore. Inside, locate the different departments and name what you and your child see. Talk about the shapes and the colors and the textures of the packages and foods.

Create a story about Stanley and what your child thinks Stanley will do after work. Write down the story your child tells and have her illustrate the pages.

 

What to read next:

William Bee is a prolific writer of children’s books. Here are just a few examples of his other books. (I am an Amazon Affiliate. I am not paid for my review, but if you click on the pictures, you will be directed to Amazon, where if you make a purchase, I do receive a small percentage.)

 

Do you have a favorite Stanley or William Bee book? Comment in the post below.

Happy Reading!!

Book Review: Wake Up! By Helen Frost and Rick Lieder

Wake UpWake Up! Poem by Helen Frost and photographs by Rick Lieder. Published by Candlewick Press: Somerville, MA, 2017.

A poem about new life in the world all around us. Illustrated with beautiful photographs that invite the reader, not only explore the pages of the book, but the world right outside the front door.

WHAT I LIKE ABOUT THIS BOOK

This book needs to be discussed. It is rare to find books that so naturally include conversation starters within the text. Conversations aren’t just a way to connect people together, they are also important building blocks of future reading success. Talking in a positive way, not only provides a safe space and fond memories, but it strengthens vocabulary and builds reading comprehension. The natural flow of conversation will connect what the child sees on the page to the text and even the world around her. It provides the perfect opportunity to enrich dialogue between you and your child.

This natural conversation will also strengthen vocabulary. The language the poet uses is unique and fresh and in addition there is a pictorial glossary at the end of the book to provide more information about the animals and insects explored in the pages of the book.

The photographs are simple, yet detailed at the same time. The close up shots provide a different vantage point for children to look at the natural world. Preschool children are very concrete thinkers, so this is a perfect book to help him gain a better understanding of how the world works and his place in it. And most important, the mystery and awe and wonder of the natural world.

HOW TO USE THIS BOOK

This story begs to be read outside at a picnic in a park. It invites the reader and listener to explore the outside world find their own new beginnings. After reading the book, go on a scavenger hunt to see if you can find any of the animals photographed. Use your phone or camera and take your own close up shots and then when you get home, print them out with labels and create your own Wake Up! book.

Allow conversation to flow

Ask questions your child like where she thinks the different animals may be and why? Where does she think they go at night and what does she think they eat. Allow space for her to ask her own questions as you walk. It is okay if you don’t have all the answers! That is what makes nature so interesting and awe-inspiring. And tell her you can visit the library to find out more information on what she finds most interesting and perplexing.

Don’t forget to get up close

The book encourages looking at nature from a different perspective, so tell your child it’s okay to get down on the ground and look at things up close! Stones and dirt, mulch and sticks. Plants and flowers. Take the time to lay on your backs and look at the sky. Watch the clouds roll by and discover hidden shapes and even label the different types of clouds you see.

WHAT TO READ NEXT

The poet and author have collaborated on several similar picture books. (Note, I am an Amazon Affiliate. If you click on a picture it will take you to Amazon, where if you make a purchase I receive a small percentage of the sale. The opinions in the review are mine and I have not been paid for this review)

 

What books would about the natural world would you add to the WHAT TO READ NEXT list?

Happy Reading!!

A Storytime Primer for Parents

When I worked as a children’s librarian, my favorite part of the week was planning storytimes for a local Head Start school. I would sit on the floor of the children’s area and sift through the shelves looking for a theme and fun books to complement it.

But I didn’t stop there, because the theme was only to get the kids interested in the books, the real learning was happening through the choices I made about the books I read.

So how does a librarian plan a story time?

It starts with a theme. Themes can be about a topic like moving or first day of school or beach days. It could be colors or shapes. I once had a teacher ask me to do a storytime on positional words like Over, Under, Above, Below. That was a challenging storytime to prepare.

Once I have chosen a theme, I start to assemble books. Story times and attention spans of preschool children usually last about 30 minutes. Three or four books, with songs and rhymes in-between will fill the time quickly. So with so few minutes, how did I make the most of the stories I read?

Focus on the Six Pre-Literacy Skills

With all the choices of books out there and so little time, after I settled on a theme, I chose what of the six skills I would highlight that week.6prereadingskills

This part is for the kids, but they will never know it. These six skills are the building blocks for future reading success. When I introduce the book, I will say a line about the skill highlighted in the book and a quick sentence about why it is important. That is for the teachers and the parents and the caregivers. The kids only need to know they are in for a great book.

After the theme and books are chosen, I then choose the order I read the books in.

When reading to kids, order matters

With active bodies and imaginations, storytimes need to be kept short. I always start the storytime with the longest book. If you try to read the Little Engine Who Could at the end of a story session you will have chaos on your hands. So start with the longest book first and end with the shortest.

After the order is chosen, find songs and rhymes to go along with them.

This is a great way to get the kids wiggles out

Kids are made to move. Sitting and listening to story after story is hard. So make the most of your time and take short breaks to get those little bodies moving. Fingerplays are a great way to involve the kids in the story time and get their attention back. (Fingerplays are poems/songs like where is thumbkin) Playing music and having them follow your dance is also a great way to get them back in a listening mood. Sing a song, repeat nursery rhymes, whatever you can dream up for a quick break between books will be appreciated by the young listeners.

Those are the building blocks of a story time, so let’s see the theory in practice.

Preschool Story Time Sampler

 

The theme as you can tell is messes! These books I chose because of the unique vocabulary, the strong narratives, rhyming words, and the fun pictures that build print motivation. The last book, I ain’t gonna paint no more is a show stopper because it can be sung to It Ain’t gonna rain no more.  All of the books encourage interaction with the kids and fun conversations. Songs that could be used with this storytime are Laurie Bernker’s Victor Vito, The Itsy Bitsy Spider, and the nursery rhyme humpty dumpty. I always began and ended my storytimes with the same opening rhyme and the same ending rhyme. It gives the kids a sense of order and completion to their time at the library.

Now, I am not suggesting that parents create a show-stopping storytime for their loved ones each night, but it may help you break through a reading rut with your child or find a new way to explore stories together.

VOCABULARY

 

 

PRINT MOTIVATION

 

NARRATIVE SKILLS

 

 

 

PHONOLOGICAL AWARENESS

 

 

 

(I am an amazon affiliate member, if you click on a picture it takes you to Amazon, where if you make a purchase I get a small percentage of the proceeds. I am not paid to review any particular books and the opinions are all mine.)