Monday, August 13, 2012

August 10 for 10 Picture Book Event 2012

      I really enjoy the annual showcase of August 10 for 10 Picture Books from a wide variety of fellow bloggers! This event is virtually co-hosted on the Internet by bloggers Cathy Mere and Mandy Robek. Mandy's blog is called Enjoy and Embrace Learning, and Cathy's blog is called Reflect and Refine: Building a Learning Community. Three years ago, they started this event and shared their recommendations for picture books that you can't live without via the Blogosphere and fellow Twitter users. I posted for the August 10 for 10 for the first time last year, and I gave my post a focus of ten great picture books that had come out within the past year. This year, I decided to highlight nature-inspired picture books that had come out in the past twelve months. I adore both fiction and nonfiction texts which have nature woven within the story. Like so many other topics, I love that an appreciation for nature can be supported through the talent of finely tuned words from a crafty writer and the gorgeous illustrations from a creative artist. As you can imagine, picking just ten books is a challenge. :) Here are ten of some of my favorite nature-inspired picture books from the past year: 

1. In the Sea Written by David Elliott and Illustrated by Holly Meade    
 (Candlewick, February 2012)

    This book is part of a collaborative series of animal-inspired text by David Elliott and illustrator Holly Meade. They have authored several other books together, including In the Wild (Candlewick, 2010) and On the Farm (Candlewick, 2008). The book In the Sea is written about various animals of the ocean habitat through short poems. The illustrations are created through wood block cut prints and create a bold visual. Reading all three of these selections are a distinct style of writing. This collection can also be used to illustrate the writing traits of voice and presentation. 

Here is an example, entitled "The Shark":
The fin, 
the skin, 
the brutal grin...

The terror 
of the dark within. 

      You can review the Horn Book's inclusion of In the Sea in a list of recommended ocean themed books.  Also, here is the review of In the Sea from Publishers Weekly.

  2. The Beetle Book Written and Illustrated by Steve Jenkins
(Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2012)

     I have blogged on several occasions about my appreciation of author and illustrator Steve Jenkins. I enjoy his works so much because of his talent to write about nonfiction in an engaging manner. Like his other books, there is nothing dry or stiff about how he imparts knowledge on these six legged creatures. Here is an excerpt: 

"The mottled tortoise beetle uses its oversize wing casings like a turtle's shell, tucking its head and legs underneath when danger threatens."

     This book can be used in a variety of ways for teaching. The sample sentence given above shows how Jenkins is quite talented with his uses of comparisons and analogies in order to help the young reader visualize a specific breed that they are most likely not familiar with. The text lends itself well to teaching examples of the writing trait of word choice, with the use of words like "threatens," "casings," and "tucking." You can also use the book to highlight how to have an effective lead in writing. He opens up his book with this powerful idea: "Line up every kind of plant and animal on Earth, and one of every four will be a beetle." That opening is effective in illustrating the impact beetles have in our lives, whether we realize it or not! :) 

    You can peruse the online preview of the book through Google books.  Here is the link to the Publishers Weekly review of The Beetle Book.  In addition, you can read about this bug book and more in a Horn Book Magazine article from May 2012. 

3. Outside Your Window: A First Book of Nature Written by Nicola Davies and Illustrated by Mark Hearld 
(Candlewick, 2012) 

     Nicola Davies is a noted author of numerous highly appealing nonfiction trade books, including Bat Loves the Night (Candlewick, 2001) and One Tiny Turtle (Candlewick, 2005) You can read more about her work one of my previous posts.  In this offering, Davies provides a collection of nature-inspired poetry that will perk the interests of any creature-loving child. The poems are presented by grouping them with appropriate seasons. 

      This book would be wonderful as an example of a hybrid nonfiction text (a text that is nonfiction, but in a format that is not cut and dry.) Also, the traits of word choice and presentation could be nicely supported with this picture book. Being able to write about nature and observations through poetry certainly exemplifies how to carefully select choice words to support written expression.  I would also recommend using this book as a mentor text for "making the ordinary extraordinary" and "exploding a moment." Davies would make for a fantastic and engaging author study as well! Here is the link to Nicola's blog and her website for you to further explore her work. Also, here's a bonus clip that you can share with students straight from Nicola Davies herself. She shares about the magic of discovery and exploring!



4. Secrets of the Garden Written by Katherine Weinder Zoehfield and Illustrated by Priscilla Lamont (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2012) 


    This book by Zoehfield layers information in an engaging way! There are aspects such as speech bubbles and very scientifically speaking chickens which give more facts beyond the central story line. It lends itself to be read more than one time, once as a story and again as an informational reference. It is fantastic to use with studies of food chains, life cycles, and school garden habitats. 

    Be sure to check out the Google books preview of the text. You can visit Katherine Weinder Zoehfield's author page here to see the more than 60 books that she has authored. I bet you will find some familiar favorites here!  Also, you can explore the official website for Priscilla Lamont here.

5. Over and Under the Snow Written by Kate Messner and Illustrated by Chris Salas Neal (Chronicle Books, October 2011)

     Messner's book Over and Under the Snow shares "a secret kingdom under the snow" with readers.  The book starts out as a wondering of a child as her and her father go skiing in the snow. This book can be used as a text which provides an example of comparing and contrasting things in a story. Children can easily think of what visibly happens above the ground when winter and snows arrive, but this book opens children's minds to what happens in what scientists call the "subnivean zone" underground.

    This text is the winner of the Golden Kite Award from the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI.) You can read their interview with Kate Messner on the official SCBWI blog here.  She shares how she brainstormed about this book on the back of an attendance sheet while on a bus going home from a field trip with her 7th graders when she was a teacher. That is the perfect kind of antidote to share with budding young authors about how seed ideas are everywhere, just waiting to be cultivated and grow!

     You can follow Kate Messner is a variety of ways online. She can be found on Twitter, Facebookemail, or snail mail.  Messner also Skypes with groups and schools, and maintains a page on her website where she gives information on authors who will Skype for free to schools and classrooms! How wonderful is that? She keeps a current blog as an author where you can find out more about her thoughts and work. Be sure to check out her advice for writing on her website as well. It is wonderful to share with students when investigating of her author's craft skills. 


6. Creep and Flutter: The Secret World of Insects and Spiders Written and Illustrated by: Jim Arnoksky 
(Sterling Children's Books, 2012) 
    Author and illustrator Jim Arnosky has been a prolific author and illustrator of books about nature for many years. This book is fourth in a series for Sterling Children's Books, and there are over 200 spiders and insects featured throughout the book. The books in this series are in a larger format and have fold out page spreads. Previous books in the series include: Thunderbirds: Nature's Flying Predators (Sterling, 2011), Slither and Crawl: Eye to Eye with Reptiles (Sterling, 2009) and Wild Tracks: A Guide to Nature's Footprints (Sterling, 2008).  These larger, highly appealing illustrators are great gateway books into Arnosky's collection as an author. He has a variety of books, most of which appear as if you are looking directly in his sketchbook. Arnosky makes for a great author study to review the traits of presentation, organization, and voice in nonfiction writing.

   If you haven't explored Jim Arnosky's Crinkleroot books, check out the website devoted just to this character and his nature adventures.  Arnosky's cleverly drawn books are a feast for any young naturalist!

7. Nasty Bugs Poems Selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins and Illustrated by Will Terry (Dial, 2012)  

     In this latest collection of poems, Lee Bennett Hopkins showcases the sometimes yucky (but always intriguing) world of creepy crawly bugs. There are 16 poems from authors such as J. Patrick Lewis, Douglas Florian, and Marilyn Singer.

     Lee Bennett Hopkins keeps a blog and a wonderful, comprehensive website that will show you to more of his fabulous compilations. You can read more about Lee Bennett Hopkins in a previous post from my blog as well. In that post, I highlight his work with poetry and how you can explore his work with your students. 

Here is a sampling of a poem Hopkins penned himself entitled, "Ode to a Dead Mosquito":

8. Sounds of the Wild: Forest Written and Illustrated by: Maurice Pledger
(Silver Dolphin Books, 2012) 

     This book is an installment in a series by Maurice Pledger. He is a renowned nature artist who does extraordinarily realistic drawings. The series includes titles on other topics such as birds, the jungle, nighttime, bugs, and the ocean. This book on various forest habitats is extra special because it is a wonderful pop up book that includes animal sound effects! That makes this book appealing even to the most reluctant reader. There are five different types of forest habitats showcased in full panoramic spreads throughout Europe and North America. 

9.Ocean Sunlight: How Tiny Plants Feed the Seas Written by: Molly Bang and Penny Chisholm and Illustrated by: Molly Bang (Blue Sky Press, 2012)

    Author and illustrator Molly Bang, in partnership with friend-scientist Penny Chisholm, created a vibrantly illustrated picture book. This book can be shared as a companion text to Living Sunlight: How Plants Bring the Earth to Life (Blue Sky Press, 2009).  Since Chisholm's scientific passion is studying phytoplankton, that gave this book its niche topic. Bang shares on her website that this book took about a year and a half to complete and they made 134 drafts of the book! I think sharing such struggles with students shows them that determination with revision is worth the effort because everyone needs to polish their first attempts. Check out the starred review of Ocean Sunlight on Publishers Weekly and a fantastic interview with Bang and Chisholm which was featured on the Horn Book website in July. 

10. Gem Written and Illustrated by Holly Hobbie
(Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2012)

     Holly Hobbie is well known for her Holly Hobbie artwork, as well as the seven book collection of Toot and Puddle picture books. With the book Gem, Hobbie introduces the main idea of the book on the book cover preview: "Look carefully. There may be a gem in your garden." From the inside flap, Hobbie discloses how she found the inspiration for this idea and concept. She wondered about the journey a frog had to take in the spring time. That is a great example to illustrate the trait of ideas and how to zoom in on a topic. 

     Click here to enjoy a virtual preview of the text through the publisher's website. Here is the starred review from Publishers Weekly as well.

     I hope that you have discovered a few books that have peeked your interest! :) I look forward to delving into the other blogs that have also participated in this annual blog round-up. Currently, there are over 60 other bloggers who have posted lists as well! You can follow people that are sharing about August 10 for 10 by searching Twitter with the hash tag #pb10for10.  You can also find Mandy and Cathy's compiled collection of August 10 for 10 on their Jog the Web collection for 2012. Bookmark this Jog the Web list to quickly refer to the over 60 blogs that have generously shared their book recommendations to help rejuvenate your use of children's trade book literature. Enjoy the 2012-13 school year everyone! Here's to a wonderful, inspired start to your year!

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