Tag Archives: rhyming

PPBF – Día de Los Muertos

Regular readers will notice that I’m posting not on Friday, as planned, but on Sunday evening. You’ll also find today’s post a bit shorter than usual, which is neither a reflection on the book nor the subject matter. Rather, it’s a reflection on life, and how life can change in an instant. Such changes make me appreciate family even more, and cause me to celebrate those who paved the path along which we trod.

thTitle: Día de Los Muertos

Written By: Roseanne Greenfield Thong

Illustrated By: Carles Ballesteros

Publisher/date: Albert Whitman & Company/2015

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: bilingual; Latino; celebrations; Day of the Dead; rhyming

Opening:

It’s Día de Los Muertos, the sun’s coming round,

as niños prepare in each pueblo and town.

For today we will honor our dearly departed

with celebraciones – it’s time to get started!

Brief Synopsis:

Children celebrate the Day of the Dead with their families

Links to Resources:

  • Learn about Día de los Muertos in an Afterword;
  • Many Spanish words are sprinkled throughout the text and are defined in a Glossary;
  • Make pan de muerto, bread of the dead, that is part of the celebrations.

Why I Like this Book:

Día de Los Muertos is a wonderful introduction to a Halloween-like holiday celebrated throughout Mexico and much of Latin America. Unlike Halloween, though, celebrations are family-oriented, with remembrance of ancestors at the heart of the festivities.

While there isn’t a distinct story per se, the reader follows along as young children celebrate departed relatives, including Grandpa Padilla. Rhyming text keeps the action upbeat and fast-paced.

Colorful illustrations complement the rhyming text, leaving the reader with a sense of joy and connection to family.

A Note about Craft:

We learn as writers that rhyme should be utilized only when it adds to the story, when it’s necessary. In Día de Los Muertos, the rhyme quickens the pace and makes what could be a somber subject upbeat and more kid-relatable. Particularly impressive, Thong rhymes not just in English, but also in Spanish.

This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Books https://susannahill.com/for-teachers-and-parents/perfect-picture-books/ list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!

PPBF -What to Do With a Box

It’s November, time to:

  • Elect our next president and fill other state and federal offices;
  • Turn back the clocks;
  • Head indoors as outside temperatures fall;
  • Give thanks and share our blessings with others.

So why have I chosen to feature a picture book about a BOX?

  • Countless school & community groups are hosting food drives now –  filling cardboard boxes with meals for less-fortunate neighbors;
  • Boxes are a great indoor escape from cold, rainy fall weather, especially as the sun retreats earlier each afternoon; and
  • If you live in a contested state, or listen to, read or watch any news sources, you may by now just want to curl up in a box – or perhaps you may want to do so next Wednesday.

Without further ado, off to unpack today’s Perfect Picture Book:

9781568462899_p0_v2_s118x184Title: What to Do With a Box

Written By: Jane Yolen

Illustrated By: Chris Sheban

Publisher/date: Creative Editions/2016

Suitable for Ages: 6-8 (or younger)

Themes/Topics: rhyming picture book, cardboard boxes, imagination, creativity, adventure, recycling

Opening: “A box! A box is a strange device. You can open it once. You can open it twice.”

Brief Synopsis: A “how to” play with an empty cardboard box

Links to Resources:

  • Use your imagination to repurpose a cardboard box as a vehicle, costume or other  item
  • Think of other things you can recycle into toys or other items.

Why I Like this Book:

In fewer than 200 words, Jane Yolen opens the box on creativity, inviting children to imagine, explore, set off on adventures. The only characters in the book are two unnamed children, a boy and a girl, with a dog, and the suggestion is that “you” can participate in adventures, journeys and imaginative play with a box, too.

Chris Sheban’s soft illustrations mimic the colors of a cardboard box and complement Ms. Yolen’s text well. As one reviewer noted, the pair combine “soft words and soothing visuals”, providing “inspiration without instruction.”

A Note about Craft:

I immediately was struck by two things when I read What to Do With a Box: the quiet, lyrical language and the lack of character names. Concerning the latter, I think by leaving the characters nameless, Ms. Yolen makes it easier for young listeners to envision themselves in the story – something she encourages further by inviting “you” to join in on the action. This reminded me of the directives in A Child of Books, Oliver Jeffers/Sam Winston (Candlewick Press, 2016), in which the narrator, a nameless “child of books,” will journey with “you” to discover the joys of literature.

And while What to Do With a Box is an action story, all of the actions require thought and contemplation. This isn’t hurried, slapstick action. Rather, the children and you think about what to do with the box and, harnessing creativity, repurpose it in many imaginative ways.

Finally, no review of this book would be complete without a note about word choice. Ms. Yolen seemingly chooses her words not just to keep the rhythm and rhyme, but to draw the reader in, to paint a picture as one child “crayon[s] an egret” and the other sails not just anywhere, but “to Paris and back”. Such beautiful images!

This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Books list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!