ages 6 – 9


5M4B disclosure

calvin_look_outA few years ago, I became enamored with a little starling named Calvin, a book-loving bird who skipped flying lessons in favor of trips to the library and more time immersed in a book. Jennifer Berne’s Calvin Can’t Fly: The Story of a Bookworm Birdie became a much loved read aloud in my preschool classroom, and it remains a favorite of my own children to this day. Imagine my excitement when I saw that Berne had collaborated with illustrator Keith Bendis once again to bring a new Calvin story to the shelves. Calvin, Look Out! A Bookworm Birdie Gets Glasses gives the gist of the book’s tale right there in the title, but be prepared for a little silly adventure in the process, of course.

When Calvin seems to be having some trouble making out the words on the pages of books and tripping over things at the library, the kind, and appropriately named librarian, Mrs. Readalot, suggests that he may be farsighted. As Calvin is wont to do, his first inclination is to do a little research on the topic, and when he learns that he may just need some eyeglasses to fix the problem, he rushes right off to the eye doctor, who does confirm his suspicion. When he walks out with a spiffy new pair of glasses, he’s feeling proud and confident… until some of his starling cousins begin to tease him. When he walks off from the laughing flock, he walks right into a wacky situation like only Calvin can. Using his book-smarts, Calvin just might find a way to get a message to his huge starling family. They’ve helped him in times of trouble before, so he hopes they’ll be able to do it again.

There really is something endearing about this little starling guy– for me and my children, all proud bookworms, he is delightful and lovable. My daughter especially was excited to read this book to her younger brother, telling him, “I think I’ll really understand this one, because I had to get glasses, too!” Berne has scattered several literary and historical references that provide tidbits of new information and make for fun asides to discuss while you’re reading with young children, too. Just as before, Calvin remains true to himself, even in tough times, and his confidence and passion for reading are two admirable traits in a beloved children’s literature character.


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Kindergarten, Planes, and Sea Bears from Chronicle Books

Planes Go by Steve Light is a highly appealing book for the youngest of booklovers. I have to enumerate what I love: I love board books, but this one is unique because of its size, 12 x 6 inches. Fun sound words like “wheeeevvrrruuhmmm,” “huk, huk, huk, wwwhhhiiirr,” “bbbrrrrmmmmmm.” Bright pictures and a fun font make each page exciting. The Bear’s Sea Escape by Benjamin Chaud is another uniquely-sized book, at 14.5 x 9.8 inches. It has an old-fashioned busy style of illustration which takes up the majority of the page,inviting readers to find Little Bear on each page, as Papa Bear is looking for him as well. The scenes are diverse, from snow to sand to sea. Planet Kindergarten equates starting Kindergarten to a
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Dreamworks Press Dragons mobile story app #Giveaway

Disclosure: I received a complimentary app to review and other promotional consideration for this campaign. My son Kyle has read a heckuva lot less this summer than he has in years past. There are many reasons for that, and if I cared more, I’d do something about it. I know that once we get back into the routine of school, he’ll be back to consuming novels at a rapid pace. Last year he had the most AR points of any 4th grader, so there’s that…. He’s just so drawn to those handheld (and desktop) computer devices. That’s why I was excited to try out the new app from DreamWorks press, which combines reading with a familiar app experience. Ultimately, he decided he’s a bit too
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Song for Papa Crow

My kids and I can often be seen walking around our yard area trying to pinpoint a songbird up in the trees. There are some calls that are easy for all of us to identify- the American robin’s cheery trill, the blue jay’s jarring calls, and the chickadee’s confident repeating of its own name. Of course, another one most folks can immediately recognize is that of the American crow, though their raucous caws don’t usually convey the same warm feelings as the songbirds. Perhaps after reading Marit Menzin’s picture book Song for Papa Crow, however, children (and parents) may come to have a new appreciation the next time they hear a crow’s caws. In colorful cut-paper illustrations that convey texture even on the two-dimensional page, the story
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Ready, Freddy! Going Batty

The wee ones love the Ready, Freddy! books. It’s one of the first chapter book series that they started reading, and they felt like such big kids, along with Freddy and his first grade friends. In Ready, Freddy! Going Batty by Abby Klein, Freddy is once again being challenged by the classroom “bully” Max. Freddy has been hearing scraping noises in his attic, which has been keeping him awake at night. As he talks about the monster upstairs on the bus, Max overhears and challenges Freddy to get a picture of the monster that weekend, or else he’s chicken. Of course Freddy can’t back down, but luckily he has his best friend Robbie who volunteers to spend the night and help Freddy track down the monster.
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Hilda and the Black Hound #MMGM

Earlier this year, I was introduced to the Hildafolk series by Luke Pearson. My review of Hilda and the Troll emphasized my adoration of this spunky young character and the adventurous tone of the story in this complex comic book.  What I didn’t realize was that the series had continued with three additional books! Hilda and the Black Hound is the latest, and this fourth in the series has Hilda facing another adventure, of course, with just the amount of pluck and heart readers have come to expect from her. Since the first book in the series, Hilda and her mother have moved away from the Fjords and into the small city of Trolberg. It’s clear that Hilda still misses the wide expanse of the natural world, and
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Kelsey Green, Reading Queen / Annika Riz, Math Whiz #Giveaway

Welcome to Mrs. Molina’s third grade class at Franklin School, a fun group of kids, each with their own ‘thing.’ In the first two books in the series, young chapter book readers are introduced to two girls whose special interests are laid out right in the titles: Kelsey Green, Reading Queen and Annika Riz, Math Whiz. In the first book, Kelsey Green has her nose in a book– many, many books– throughout the story, as she is working hard to both help her class win the school-wide reading contest, as well as to claim the honor of being the student who has read the highest number of books in the entire school. There are some obstacles in her way, though, such as family events that
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TIME for Kids Big Book of When

Kids and their questions. It seems like my children can come out with questions I never would have thought to ask in a million years! I admire their curiosity, and I’m happy that they still see books as resources for finding answers. A new information book full of “801 Facts Kids Want to Know” has caught their attention, answering questions they’ve wondered and providing information to appeal to a wide variety of interests. TIME for Kids: Big Book of When is the kind of book that children will pull out again and again for entertainment (that is educational, too!). Sized like a traditional classroom textbook, this book is way more engaging than I remember any of my old school books to be. Vivid photographs and illustrative maps,
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Fact or Fib?: A Challenging Game of True or False

Combine a trivia game and an informational book, and you’ve got Fact or Fib?: A Challenging Game of True or False. Along with its companion, Fact or Fib? 2, these kid-friendly books provide a fun and educational reading experience for all ages. Their small size (about 5″x7″) make them perfect for popping into a purse or backpack as a time-killer when out and about! On each two-page spread, three statements are given about a variety of topics including animals, dinosaurs, bugs, technology, and many more. Two of the statements are absolutely true, while one is a big old lie. With the next page turn, the facts are revealed and the fib is unveiled, along with a little extra context information about each of the statements. While these
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The Baby Tree #Giveaway

It’s an inevitable rite of parenthood– answering the age-old question, “Where do babies come from?” Accomplished author/illustrator Sophie Blackall tackles this question in a beautifully rendered new picture book, The Baby Tree. My eight-year-old daughter and I had a little chat about the book, which we’ve enjoyed reading together, as well as about how she used to think babies originated. Check the video out over on 5 Minutes for Mom, and enter to win a copy of the book for yourself while you’re there! Now, let me tell you that I absolutely love this book. I’m already a huge fan of Blackall’s illustrative style, ink and watercolor pictures with a soft quality that immediately conveys tenderness. In this story, a young boy’s parents tell him that
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Bad Piggies: Piggy Island Heroes

My children adore Angry Birds. It started with the original game, and it has expanded to every conceivable facet of our lives from shirts to stuffed animals to board games and – of course, to books. Bad Piggies: Piggy Island Heroes is the first chapter book that I’ve personally seen starring the Angry Birds characters. This particular book, however, focuses on the pigs instead of the birds, which means the “bad guys” are the heroes. I’m always a little tentative when bad guys are made to be the heroes in any book (or tv show or movie) because I don’t want my own children to emulate them. In this book, however, the bad guys are so obviously still bad and incompetent that I’m not concerned
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5 Awesome Moms in #KidLit {Friday’s Five}

It’s almost Mother’s Day. If you don’t know that, get thee to a greeting card store and a florist or chocolatier or jeweler ASAP. As mothers, we might be campaigning for a whole weekend, not just a day. We thought we’d take this opportunity to honor 5 Awesome Moms who can be found in the pages of some of our favorite children’s books: DAWN If you’ve ever met my kids, it would be no wonder why I identify with moms of feisty kids in children’s literature. Sure, the focus of the story is on the character of the energetic child, but the mom is usually not too far behind in the background, ready to help patch up whatever fiasco is the latest adventure for her
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