Amy Says Read This

Seriously, you should totally read this.


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Mind Your Manners, Alice Roosevelt! by Leslie Kimmelman

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Kimmelman, L., & Gustavson, A. (ill.) (2009). Mind your manners, Alice Roosevelt!. Atlanta: Peachtree. ISBN: 9781561454921

Annotation: Teddy Roosevelt could handle almost anything. Except his oldest daughter, Alice, who liked to break rules and get into mischief.

Reaction: This picture book is as much about Teddy as about Alice, but it did have some fun facts about the President’s daughter, including that she owned a pet snake at one point!

The art is detailed and reflects the mischievousness of Alice and the whole of Roosevelt family. Gustavson’s depictions of Alice and her family’s antics are really my favorite part of the book, making it a much more enjoyable read than the text alone.

This book is not quite as much fun as What To Do About Alice, which focused more on Alice’s exploits rather than her father trying to get her to behave, but it was a good read. I enjoyed the way it depicted the family, and I think it’s always fun to see “behind the scenes” in the lives of famous people.

Media Used: Oil on prepared paper

Author’s Website

Illustrator’s Website


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The Cloud Spinner by Michael Catchpool

Image from Goodreads.com

Image from Goodreads.com

Catchpool, M., & Jay, A. (ill.). (2012). The Cloud Spinner. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN: 9780375870118

Annotation: A young boy has the ability to spin the clouds into beautiful cloth, only ever using as much as he needs. When a greedy king sees the cloth, he demands that the boy make clothes for him, with disastrous results.

Reaction: I was drawn to this book because of the spinning. I love the idea of creating your own yarn through the simple act of twisting it together, despite the fact that I’m terrible at practicing it. So I love to see spinning and knitting and other fiber arts represented in children’s books.

This is a sweet, quiet fairy tale featuring the traditionally foolish king and wise, hardworking peasant. The art is beautiful, and the crackle varnish adds age and gravitas to the illustrations. I love the shapes Jay draws in the clouds and the faces she gives to the houses, hillsides, clouds, sun and moon. These details add a touch of whimsy to the art.

This story isn’t action packed or funny, but it would appeal to lovers of fairy tales and fiber arts.

Materials used: Alkyd paint & crackle varnish on thick cartridge paper

Illustrator’s website


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Grandfather Tang’s Story by Ann Tompert

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Image from Goodreads.com

Tompert, A., & Parker, R. A. (ill.) (1990). Grandfather Tang’s story: A tale told with tangrams. New York: Crown Publishers. ISBN: 9780517885581

Annotation: A grandfather tells his granddaughter a Chinese folk tale about shape changing foxes and uses tangrams to help illustrate.

Reaction: I picked this book up because the idea of a “tale told with tangrams” was really intriguing. It wasn’t until I started reading that I realized I was confusing tangrams, which are different pictures made with the same seven pieces of a single puzzle, with anagrams, which are different words made out of other words.

The story is a fun folk tale about two fox fairies who have a shape changing contest that almost ends in tragedy, and Grandfather Tang uses his tangrams to illustrate all the different shapes they become. I really enjoy the folk/fairy tales from other cultures, especially non-Western ones, since their traditions are so different, but also not really that different at all. And this one has the fun added element of the tangrams.

The art is loose and impressionistic and has an Asian flavor to it, sort of reminiscent of Chinese brush paintings. The colors are muted, giving the illustrations a feeling of age.

This book would be great to introduce kids to some Chinese folklore and tangrams. I remember other kids playing with them in school, but for some reason I never did. I think it would be a fun activity for a class or family to read this story together and then make their own tangrams stories.

Media Used: None listed, but it looks like pencil and watercolors.

Author’s Website: None

Illustrator’s Website: None


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Exclamation Mark by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

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Image from Goodreads.com

Rosenthal, A. K, & Lichtenheld, T. (ill.) (2013). Exclamation Mark. New York: Scholastic Press. ISBN: 9780545436793

Annotation: Exclamation Mark didn’t fit in with any of his friends. He tried everything, but he always stood out, and then the day came when he learned to embrace his differences.

Reaction: Omg, this book is so adorable, and if I thought my four year olds in storytime understood what punctuation was, I would totally use it in storytime over and over. As it is, I want to read it over and over, and I think it could probably be a good book to help introduce kids to punctuation and the different purposes of a period versus an exclamation point. I love the simple illustrations on what looks like lined writing practice paper. This is a simple sweet story that is original and totally delightful.

(And, here, have a video from the publisher!)

Media Used: Ink and “other exciting materials”

Author’s Website

Illustrator’s Website


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Nighttime Ninja by Barbara DaCosta

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Image from Goodreads.com

DaCosta, B., & Young, E. (ill.) (2012). Nighttime ninja. New York: Little, Brown and Company. ISBN: 9780316203845

Annotation: Late at night, when everyone is asleep, a ninja creeps through the house on a secret mission.

Reaction: This is an exciting adventure story that highlights a child’s imagination and ability for creative play. Throughout the story we see the ninja as he sees himself, and it’s not until the end when he’s busted while on his mission that we see him as he really is. I love the way his mother plays along with him and gives him a new “back-to-bed mission” rather than scolding him or ignoring his play.

The illustrations are what really make this book outstanding. Young’s use of paper, cloth and string add texture and depth to the images and really make the story come alive. Dacosta’s text is simple and plain and allows the illustrations to do most of the heavy lifting.

I think this book could inspire kids do some of their own creative play and let their imaginations create new personas and adventures.

Winner 2013 Children’s Choice Book Awards

Media Used: Cut paper, textured cloth, string and colored pencil

Author’s Website

Illustrator’s Website


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Dangerously Ever After by Dashka Slater

Image from Goodreads.com

Image from Goodreads.com

Slater, D., & Docampo, V. (ill.) (2012). Dangerously ever after. New York: Dial Books for Young Readers. ISBN: 9780803733749

Annotation: Princess Amanita loves all sorts of dangerous things, and she has the most dangerous garden around, full of prickly, sharp, hard and smelly things. So when Prince Florian introduces her to roses, a pretty flower with big thorns, she must have some.

Reaction: This book is adorable and silly and wonderful. Princess Amanita is a delightful, sassy princess who doesn’t mind getting her hands dirty working in her garden. The dangerous plants in her garden are imaginative and sure to make readers giggle.

Docampo’s illustrations are lovely and the perfect complement to Slater’s story. The drawings capture Amanita’s spirit, and I love the Royal kitties who follow Amanita and Florian around.

This book is great for young readers, giving them a sort of silly story and a strong heroine who doesn’t conform to traditional expectations for princesses.

Media Used: None listed

Author’s Website

Illustrator’s Website


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One Cool Friend by Toni Buzzeo

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Image from Goodreads.com

Buzzeo, T., & Small, D. (ill.) (2012). One cool friend. New York: Dial Books for Young Readers. ISBN: 9780803734135

Annotation: Elliot is a proper young man, who discovers the perfect pet on a trip to the aquarium.

Reaction: This book is so adorable and funny. I love seeing Elliot’s efforts to take care of his new pet, and I love the little surprise Buzzeo and Small give readers at the end.

As always, David Small’s artwork is fantastic, with just the perfect amount of whimsy and his facial expressions are completely delightful. The palette is primarily black and white, but the small splashes of color he adds keeps it feeling fresh and vibrant.

I think is a little long to use during a storytime, but it would work for kids in smaller groups, and my husband thought it was HILARIOUS.

2013 Caldecott Honor Book
2013 Notable Children’s Book

Media Used: Pen and ink, ink wash, watercolor and colored pencil

Author’s Website (she’s a librarian!!)

Illustrator’s Website