Book Review: Lucía the Luchadora by Cynthia Leonor Garza

By Cynthia Leonor Garza. Illustrated by Alyssa Bermudez, 2017. New York: POW!

Ages 4-7.

( I am an amazon affiliate, if you click on the pictures or links it takes you to Amazon where if you make a purchase I receive a portion of the sale.)

What this book is about

One day on the playground Lucía is teased by the boys that she can’t be a superhero. It makes her mad and that night her Abuela tells her about the luchadora’s. A luchador is more than an acrobatic wrestler. A luchadora is brave and spunky and fights for what is right. Lucía wears the luchador costume the next day on the playground and soon all the kids show up in masks and costumes. She has fun until the boys tease again that girls cannot be superheros. She takes off her mask to reveal her true identity and show the boys that girls are superheros.

What I like about this book

Print Motivation

It is hard to find picture books that feature diverse characters. This book not only features Mexican culture through the main character it is also a universal and empowering story for girls.

The pictures are vibrant and complement the text well and I love the influence from comic books and Mexican culture.

Vocabulary

The vocabulary is rich in the book. Every page introduces unique words.

Lucia the luchadora
From Amazon.com

As you can see from the sample pages your child will learn the words masked, swift, slick, style, luchadora, agile.

Print Awareness/Letter Awareness

Print Awareness will be developed with each reading. As is typical in comic books, the onomatopoeias are set apart and larger than the rest of the text. This is a great way to use your finger to follow the sentences and also highlight the places where the words deviate from the typical sentence structure. Paragraphs are in different colors which also will help children differentiate the text.

This book provides many opportunities to stop and have the child trace the letters with her fingers and sound out words even if she aren’t reading on her own yet.

Phonological Awareness

Onomatopoeias are also a great way to help kids learn different letter sounds. They are short words, often one syllable. As you read these words, follow along with your finger and then stop and have them repeat the sound.

The text, while doesn’t rhyme, has a strong cadence which gives it a beat like a rhyming book. The flow, not only makes it enjoyable to read out loud, strengthens your child’s expressive reading when they become independent readers.

Narrative Skills

Feeling different is a normal part of growing up and this book will provide a jumping off point to discuss this in your own family. Often times societal norms tell us girls act one way and boys act another. Talk about what you did as a child and some of your favorite memories that might help dispel the stereotypes.

There are many places in the book to stop and ask further questions about what is happening on the page that might not be told in the sentences. Ask your child about the pictures and what is also going on in the story.

Why you should pick this book up today

This book is a great read aloud that girls and boys will enjoy together. It features a strong Hispanic girl, provides rich vocabulary and strong text that makes this a book you will come back to again and again.

 

Other great picture books with strong female characters

Happy Reading!

Book Review: Where Will I live? by Rosemary McCarney

Ages 4-7

Where Will I live? By Rosemary McCarney. Second Story Press: Toronto, 2017.

(I am an Amazon Affiliate. If you click on the pictures it will take you to Amazon where if you make a purchase, I receive a portion of the sales.)

 

What it is about

Children search for a place to call home because where they live isn’t safe anymore. Despite the hardships these children face, they still find joy and laughter and fun.

This book tackles a hard, sad, scary topic on a level kids can understand. You know your child best and not every child will be ready to hear this story. I still remember a fourth grade novel assignment, Bridge to Terabithia, I wasn’t ready for. I cried for an hour after finishing! I could comprehend the book but wasn’t ready for the content.

If your child is ready, I suggest this book. Many of our cities have resettled refugees. It is important to not only understand their difficult journeys to the US, but that even in the hard journeys, kids are kids. Every child longs for a home, family, friends and fun.

Letter Knowledge and Print Awareness

Trace the title with your finger while you read it to the child. Point out the author and say that the author wrote the words. Show on the last page all the photographers who shared their pictures for this book.

Ask the child what letters he sees in the title. Are any of the letters in his name?

As you read the book follow the text with your finger. It familiarizes the child, not only with the letters, but how a book is read.

Narrative Skills

This book talks about community, family, friendship and belonging. After reading the book, use the Cotton Balls Kind Words Sensory Lesson (retrieved from preschoolpowolpackets.) It teaches children the difference between kind words and hurtful words using sensory materials. This lesson not only will strengthen the impact of the book, but it also develops vocabulary and narrative skills through describing the cotton ball and sandpaper.

Talk about times your child felt scared. What helped her feel safe, calmer, loved?

There are different landscapes and climates shown in the book. Have your child find a photograph and describe what he sees. Prompt with the colors of clothes, the temperature they think it might be.

Print Motivation

This book is about a child’s home environment. With a camera or phone, have your child take pictures of your house, neighborhood, town or city, car, favorite toy, where she sleeps, and friends. Assemble the pictures into a book and have child narrate each picture while you write down her responses. This will reinforce narrative skills, vocabulary and letter knowledge.

Phonological Awareness

Find songs that celebrate differences/diversity and community. Find music from other cultures, especially research the countries listed in this book.

Vocabulary

This book is rich with vocabulary. You can introduce new words by discussing the different climates in the pictures and introduce Geography through all of the countries portrayed in the photos.

  • Croatia
  • Hungary
  • Rwanda
  • Lebanon
  • Iraq
  • Jordan
  • Slovenia
  • Greece
  • South Sudan
  • Kenya
  • Cameroon
  • Myanmar
  • Niger

This book uses a lot of positional language. Write out cards using the word list below. Illustrate and have your child act out the action on the card. What else would you add to this list? You can also use a favorite toy and a clear glass to act out the cards.

  • Down
  • Beyond
  • Past
  • Across
  • Under
  • Beneath
  • In

Check out these other books about Refugee experiences to help build empathy and understanding.

What activities worked or didn’t work for your family? List in the post comments.

 

Happy Reading!

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: This Old Band by Tamera Will Wissinger

  • Ages Infant, Toddler, Preschool
  • Illustrated by Matt Loveridge
  • Skyhorse Publishing Inc, 2014

I love picture books you can sing a long to. Not only are they fun, singing is a great way for young children to hear sounds and how they are broken apart into syllables and singing also accentuates consonants and vowels in ways we don’t always get in reading.

But, if you are musically challenged, don’t worry! Reading the text is still a great way to help build these skills. The great thing about songs, read or sung, is the rhythmic text and the alliteration.

Phonological Awareness

This old band is sung to the tune, “This old man” It is a song most kids will recognize and join in with even if they don’t know the words they can hum along. I love the playful use of onomatopoeia and alliteration throughout the song. The pictures are fun and comic like. There are lots of different objects to talk about on the page. And after a few repeats your kids will be singing along.

Math Literacy

Another great part of this book is the math literacy it builds. Although I wish they used the actual numbers along with the written out number, counting backwards is a skill young preschoolers will find fun. And after the book is finished you can continue the conversation by grabbing sticks, or toys or whatever is at hand and using them to count 1-10 and then 10-1.

Narrative Skills

It is also great to help your child build narrative skills. Talk with your child about what instrument is played first. Maybe write it out on paper, cut them out and help your child organize as you read through the book again.

After all when we talk about literacy we aren’t just talking about words.

This is a great book to pick up when you are short on reading time. It has the vocabulary, the sounds, and the narrative skills we are looking for in a book.

Happy Reading or in this case Happy Singing!

 

Other fun books to sing with your child

(Reminder I am an amazon affiliate. When you click on a picture it takes you to amazon, where if you make a purchase, I get a portion of the sale. I do not get paid to promote any particular book. The views and opinions are mine and mine alone.)

 

Book Review: Joseph’s Big Ride by Terry Farish

  • Preschool-Age 7
  • Illustrated by Ken Daley
  • Annick Press

 

You may have seen on Facebook, Twitter or other social media the call for publisher’s to produce more diverse books. When I was a children’ librarian in the inner city I struggled to find books that the kids I worked with could relate to. Illustrations skewed towards traditional families and more northern European features. And the multicultural books that were published had heavy themes and mature content that young children would struggle to relate to.

Joseph’s Big Ride is a wonderful book that brings together the universal experience of being a child and the life of a child living as a refugee in camps and in America. All children will respond to the childhood bucket list item of riding a bike. But Farish brings a sensitivity through Joseph’s story of kids who long to participate in this rite of passage but life circumstances have kept them from it. Although it could have been a heavy topic of life as a child refugee, Joseph’s story reminds us we are all children with similar dreams and goals. Instead of differences separating the children it brings them together.

The book is beautifully illustrated with vibrant, rich pictures. As noted on the back cover the illustrations are modeled after the illustrators African-Caribbean roots. The pictures are engaging and draw the reader in along with helping tell the story.

The text is just as beautiful proving that children’s books can be literary works. Farish uses metaphors, similes, alliteration, assonance and more to bring the story to life. The carefully thought out text makes this book the perfect read a loud and, although young kids aren’t ready to write their own rhetorical devices, the repetition of such tools in the books they hear will build future readers and discerning students.

The book builds phonological awareness by using onomatopoeia which is a fun way for kids to hear different sounds that they will use as they learn to sound out words on their own. The strong narrative will build reading comprehension. The vocabulary is sophisticated but also approachable in the text. Your child will walk away with a stronger personal dictionary of words to draw from as they experience the world around them. (What are the 6 pre-literacy skills?)

This is a great book to use as a guide when selecting books with your child at the bookstore or library. Not all books are created equal and what we look for as parents in books are stories that engage our children (and us too!) while helping build the skills that will provide the stepping stones for future reading success.

Happy Reading!

Other Books By this Author:

 

Book Review: The Girl Who Saved Yesterday by Julius Lester

Preschool-school age

Fairy tales, folk tales and fables are important stories for our children to read and to have read to them. Psychology Today says the stories are universal and help children express his or her own feelings of anger, fear, shock. Imagination Soup has a blog post that says among the many skills fairytales help kids build it teaches them resiliency and how to handle problems. I like fairytales, folktales and fables because they help teach emotions and empathy.

We don’t only look to fairytales to teach our kids emotional lessons. They are also great resources for building print motivation and narrative skills and reading comprehension. Some of the best illustrations are in the retelling of familiar stories. And because these are stories our children hear again and again and again they are able to use these stories as guides in building their own stories.

Julius Lester is the author of more than twenty books. In his most recent picture book he combines the classic fairytale, folktale and fable structure to his own experiences growing up in the inner city. His protagonist is a girl, raised by trees after her parents die, returns to the village that abandoned her to remind them how important the past is for their future survival.

The language is beautiful, poetic and meant to be read aloud. The word pictures are as vibrant as the illustrations on the page. It is a cautionary tale and a tale of resiliency all in one. Lester created a story that is as important for parents to read as it is to the kids they read to.

Fairytales aren’t meant to be read one time. This is one of those books you will return to time and time again. Not only will it help build familiarity but your children will learn universal themes of responsibility, remembrance and hope.

Happy Reading!

What are your favorite classic tales?

 

(I am an Amazon Affiliate. If you click a picture on the page it will link you to Amazon, where if you make a purchase, I receive a percentage of the sale. I am not paid to review books. My opinions are mine and mine alone.)

 


Book Review: Thank You, Jackson by Niki and Jude Daly

Ages 3-5

Thank You Jackson. Niki and Jude Daly. Francis Lincoln Children’s Books. 2015.

(I am an Amazon affiliate member which means when you click on the pictures it takes you to Amazon where if you make a purchase I receive a small percentage. I do not get paid to review books.)

 

A farmer takes his donkey Jackson up a hill every day with a load of goods for the market. The donkey completes his job without complaint until one day Jackson won’t go up the hill. The farmer gets frustrated and no amount of prodding, pushing or yelling will get the donkey to move. Jackson loses his load and the farmer threatens to punish him and gives him to the count of ten to move and as he speaks the number ten his son, Goodwill appears. He stops his father from punishing Jackson and whispers something in the donkey’s ear. The donkey rises. The farmer asks what the boy said to get the donkey to move and the boy answers,, “Mama, says, that it’s the little things, like saying please and thank you, that make a big difference in the world.” Shamed for his attitude the farmer and boy carry the goods to market and allow Jackson to graze and rest. The story ends at the end of the day back home with the farmer thanking Jackson for all he does.

I love folktales. Not only because of the lessons they teach but they are perfect stories to teach narrative skills to emerging readers. They often hold a child’s interest with phrases that can be repeated which increases print motivation. Even though the story takes place in Africa it is a story with a universal theme that all children will relate to. This story provides unique language, using words such as market, stubborn, task, load and many more. Unique language is words we do not use in our every day conversations with our children. These unique words build vocabulary as the books are read and reread many times. There is also an emphasis on letter knowledge with the bold text numbers written out. The children can say the number out loud as you point to the text.

I highly recommend you add this book to your reading list and find other folktales and fairytales for your growing reader.

SKILLS BUILT:

  • Narrative Skills
  • Print Motivation
  • Vocabulary
  • Letter Knowledge

 

ENGAGE WITH THE STORY:

  • Talk about the book before you begin reading. Look at the pictures and name the objects you see on the page. Have your child point to pictures and identify what the object is. You can focus on colors or animals or shapes. This teaches your child how to interact and go deeper into the story than the words on the page.
  • When you come to a word your child may not be familiar with, for example task, stop and explain what the word means and give an example. It can take up to Word frequency to build vocabulary using and hearing a word before a child learns it. Find ways to incorporate these new words into your conversation today.
  • Before you turn the page, ask your child what she thinks might happen. Before you reveal what the boy says to the donkey, ask what the boy could say. When the farmer is frustrated ask your child what he thinks the farmer might do next to get the donkey to move. Reading comprehension is one of the most important skills for a child to learn and it starts early with helping your child engage in the text, anticipate and see how their guess matched up with the ending.

 

TAKE IT OFF THE PAGE:

  • Write a thank you note. Your child may not be able to write yet but sitting down and writing with you will show them how it’s done. You can have them dictate the note and you write but make sure to leave a space for them to practice their letters. At age 4 they will start forming letters especially those letters in their name. But no worries if they aren’t there yet, the simple act of using a pencil or colored pencil will help them develop the hand strength needed to develop writing.
  • Have a snack with the vegetables shown in the book. It may be an opportunity to go to the “market” just like the farmer, boy and donkey in the book. The store is a fabulous place to build vocabulary. Bring home the food and set up your own marketplace and finish with a snack.

 

Book Review: Waiting for High Tide by Nikki McClure

Waiting for High Tide. Nikki McClure, Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2016.

Ages 4-7

(I do not get paid to review books. I chose this book off the shelves of my local library. I am an Amazon Affiliate Associate. Any book you purchase from clicking the link I do receive a small percentage.)

 

Waiting for High Tide is about a family working together to build a raft. The pictures are stunning, the author hand-cut the paper with an exacto knife. They are mainly black and white but have well placed pops of color. This is a book that adults and children will be drawn to from the gorgeous pictures. (PRINT MOTIVATION)

The text is as intricate as the illustrations. The VOCABULARY is very sophisticated for a children’s book. The challenge of this book is the long pages. What I appreciate is the author has set in bold and uppercase print the main points of the story. So this book can be used with a younger reader and will grow with the child.

The emphasis on exploring the world and working together and spending time with family will encourage readers to pick up this book again and again. It is a great example of how authors can reach a wide audience through the structure and design of the book. I picked it up because of its intricate illustrations, I have a soft spot for paper art. My children enjoyed this book for the story of building a raft together and it intrigued my 11 yo, 8 yo and 5 yo.

This book is strong in reading comprehension. There will be lots of questions to ask from each page, either through the pictures or the text. (NARRATIVE SKILLS)

This book intimidates at first but there are lots of ways to use the book that your children will enjoy.

SKILLS BUILT:

  • VOCABULARY
  • PRINT MOTIVATION
  • NARRATIVE SKILLS

 

TALK ABOUT THE BOOK:

  • Read the book through and have your child retell the story. This will help build up their narrative skills.
  • Pick one of the illustrations and help your child write a story or do research on what the see on the page.
  • Ask your child how she thinks the family will use the raft in the summers to come. Make up a different ending to the story.

TAKE IT OFF THE PAGE:

  • Look at the end pages. The pages glued to the cover of the book are a vocabulary lesson in and of themselves. It shows how the raft is built and on the back of the book are animals and sea life the family encounters during the story. This can be a vocabulary addition as well as a place to talk about the parts of a book. The title page, the end pages and how books are put together. There are great YouTube videos on how books are made. Watch one together.
  • We don’t all live by an ocean or lake or pond but we all have an ecological system nearby. Find a nearby nature center and explore what animals and plants are found in your community.
  • Make your own raft! Okay, so not as big as the author’s but other materials work with your child to build a replica. Here is a great link from Discovery Education to get you started.

OTHER BOOKS WITH WOOD OR HAND CUT ILLUSTRATIONS:

Book Review: Red by Jan De Kinder

Red. Jan De Kinder. Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2015.

Ages: 4-5

(Amazon affiliate. I receive a percentage of sales when you make a purchase after clicking on the image link. I do not get paid to review books. This book I selected from the local public library)

 

Red is a Belgium story translated into English. It is about a boy named Tommy who is made fun of because he blushes easily. A girl points it out to others on the playground and soon all the kids join in. One boy named Paul refuses to stop when the other children realize how bad they made Tommy feel. And when the teacher asks who started the teasing, one brave girl raises her hand and tells what she saw. Soon other children join in and they all stand up to Paul. Paul wants to scare the girl after her brave act but this time the rest of the class stands up against Paul.

I like this book because of the rich, vibrant language through the use of unique words and metaphor and simile. (VOCABULARY) The pictures are simply but beautifully drawn with a diverse body of characters along with focus on bullying that all if not most children will deal with at some point in their lives. (PRINT MOTIVATION) It has a strong narrative that children will follow easily and because it is a topic on emotions and feelings a child is familiar with it helps in the repetition of the story. (NARRATIVE SKILLS)

This is a carefully written and illustrated book that will help build your child’s vocabulary while helping them navigate the difficult feelings and emotions that arise when they or someone they care about is teased.

By reading together and asking questions as you go along it helps build the important skill of reading comprehension which is a critical learning step in the literacy process. Guide your child into thinking about the story, anticipating what might happen and discussing at the end whether the prediction was right or wrong.

SKILLS BUILT:

  • VOCABULARY
  • PRINT MOTIVATION
  • NARRATIVE SKILLS

 

FOCUS ON THE BOOK:

  • Have your child look at the front cover of the book. How do you think the boy in the middle feels? What about the girl on the left? The boy on the right?
  • Look at the back page and have your child describe the ending scene. Is the boy happy or sad now? What about the girl?
  • After reading the book, discuss why you think the author chose the title Red? Flip through the pages and find all the red in the book.
  • What kind of emotion do you think Red is? Angry? Made? Embarrassed? Ashamed?

 

TAKE IT OFF THE PAGE:

  • Have your child pick an emotion and have him decide what color best represents that emotion. Have them paint or draw a picture using the color to express that feeling.
  • Make a feelings chart. Help build your child’s vocabulary while helping them understand their own feelings. Take pictures while they make different feelings faces. Print them out and label each feeling. You can even list underneath the emotion what makes your child sad or glad or embarrassed or shy.
  • Red is full of similes and metaphors which is a way to connect to a reader on a deeper level. Come up with simple similes and metaphors with your child and write them down or draw a picture to illustrate. For example. Her face was like a red apple; or He was an escalator of feelings. This is a difficult and advanced concept so it is fine to use other books and stories to find these rhetorical devices.

Book Review: Maya’s Blanket La Monta De Maya by Monica Brown

(I am not given books to review. All books are chosen by me for the early literacy skills they possess. If you click on the picture you will be redirected to Amazon where I do make a small commission if you make a purchase.)

Ages:4-6

A retelling of the classic Yiddish tale I had an overcoat, Maya’s Blanket tells the story of a much loved blanket that Maya’s grandmother made for her. She loves this blanket so much it begins to wear out so her grandmother transforms it into a dress, skirt, shawl, scarf, ribbon and bookmark. She loves the blanket in all its many forms and is sad one day when she can’t find her special bookmark anywhere. Maya finds a creative way to keep her much loved blanket close to her for the rest of her life.

This book is rich in VOCABULARY, NARRATIVE SKILLS, PRINT MOTIVATION, PRINT AWARENESS, LETTER KNOWLEDGE and PHONOLOGICAL AWARENESS. It is a great book to hit all the early literacy skills your preschool child has developed throughout their childhood. He will be introduced to layered language in the spanish and english text. There are many words to explore throughout the pages. The book also has vibrant and beautiful illustrations which will engage your child reading after reading. The way the story is laid out will highlight how readers follow a story and draw meaning from the pictures. The Spanish word is named first and then the child will derive meaning from the pictures and following text to understand what that word means and how it is used. Spanish words are in italics which draws attention to the letters. Lastly the mulilingual book is perfect for hearing letter sounds and putting together words from those sounds. The book teaches sequencing in story from the repetition of the transformation of the blanket to each of its next forms.

This is one of those rare books that engages children in every early literacy skill. I love it for its diversity and focus on universal themes of love between family members and those mementos every child keeps with herself to feel safe and secure.

What skills your child practices?

6prereadingskills

Questions to ask will reading the book:

  1. What is your favorite toy or blanket. What could you do to reuse it if it got old and frayed like Maya’s blanket?
  2. How do you think Maya felt when she lost the bookmark? What would you do if you lost your favorite toy, book or blanket?
  3. Can you tell me the story using the pictures?

Take it further:

  1. Create a storybook about your child’s favorite toy, book or blanket. Write down special memories, draw pictures and read the completed story together.
  2. Go to the library or favorite bookstore and find other retellings of the Yiddish tale or other books that are strong in narrative skills like Maya’s Blanket. Joesph had a little overcoat by Sims Taback is a Caldecott Honor book. The bag I’m taking to Grandma’s or any of Shirley Neitzel’s wonderful books.
  3. Make your own special blanket together. Go to a fabric store and pick out fabrics in your child’s favorite colors. Explore the store while there and point out the signs your see and the objects he may not be familiar with.