Posts tagged ‘Chronicle Books’

August 27, 2013

Will there be a sea monster in my kindergarten class?

SeaMonsterBossyFish_Tour_Banner

The countdown has begun in our house! We have new lunch boxes, new socks, and a whole whopping stack of new forms to fill out. The school year is upon us and for us, The Wizard of Why will be headed to the big leagues. You know, the Majors.

Kindergarten.

And right now, we are not TOO sure how we feel about that. Which is why it was so awesome to come home from the last vacation of the summer and find these books waiting for us as part of Chronicle Books Sea Monster and the Bossy Fish blog tour.

sea monster-Kate MessnerI was also lucky enough to interview the awesome author, Kate Messner. Here are some things she had to say:

1. Hi Kate! One thing I try to talk about in my blog is what we can do with books after the reading. Or in addition to the reading. In other words, when a parent reads your books to their child, do you have ideas for follow-up activities? Or conversation-starters so that they can keep carrying your message?

Every book can be a conversation starter when it’s shared as a family, but I think SEA MONSTER AND THE BOSSY FISH especially lends itself to those conversations because its subject matter is something to which every kid (and every adult!) can relate. Everyone knows a bossy fish, and learning to deal with that person can be the difference between smooth sailing and a really rough day at school or the office.

We often ask kids how they can relate to characters in a shared read-aloud, but I think sometimes, as parents, we forget that it’s powerful for us to share our own stories, too. SEA MONSTER AND THE BOSSY FISH can be a great springboard for talking about how to get along with people whose leadership styles might be different from yours.  Kids will enjoy hearing your own stories – both failures and successes – when it comes to negotiating those kinds of relationships.

2. Your fish pledge mentions speaking out when a child see bullying. We often tell kids this, but it is SO HARD. In fact, I would argue that most adults don’t even do it. How do we really teach kids to speak up? Can you think of a way to use your book as a starting point for that?

It is hard – harder than we think when we give that advice to kids – and that’s why I think conversations about these situations can be so valuable. When we discuss bullying before it happens, we provide a really safe environment for kids to imagine “what if.” What would I do if someone treated me this way? What if someone treated my friend like that?  Role-playing can be a wonderful, natural follow-up to reading a book like SEA MONSTER AND THE BOSSY FISH. Giving kids the opportunity to practice standing up for friends and modeling inclusive behavior in a fun, non-threatening setting makes it more likely that they’ll be able to be a positive force on the playground when a real situation arises.

3. I like the idea of parents reading books like these because they can share an important concept without lecturing their kids. Do you have advice for parents who want to talk further with their kids about this but don’t want to lecture?

Questions are  more powerful than lectures, I think. The very first time I read this book aloud to kids, I was visiting a classroom full of kindergarten students near Albany, NY, and I was blown away by their reactions. I think I asked a question or two as we read – things like “Hmm…how do you think that made the Ernest feel?”  But soon, all I had to do was pause after reading a page and let the kids reflect. Without me even asking questions, they wanted to talk about the impact of the bossy fish’s behavior. They were able to empathize with the fish being pushed around, and Andy Rash’s great illustration style makes it clear that school settings are full of emotions.  The kids used the facial expressions as evidence in their arguments: “Look, he didn’t say anything, but he’s upset. You can tell by the way his eyes look…”  These kinds of quiet discussions promote empathy and build memories that are likely to be recalled when there’s a need for kindness on the real-life playground.

4. What’s the most important thing you want kids to take away from your books?

That sometimes a “bossy fish” just needs help to be a better friend. As an adult, I love the Robert Frost poem “Outwitted.”

He drew a circle that shut me out,
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But Love and I had the wit to win.
We drew a circle that took him in.


I’d like to think BOSSY FISH is the preschool version of that sentiment.

Isn’t that all very cool? And in addition, I can offer you a discount:

Just enter this promotion code: SEAMONSTER on this website: http://www.chroniclebooks.com/. Offer ends September 6, 2013.

seamonstersfirstdayseamonsterbossyfishTitle: Sea Monster and the Bossy Fish (and the earlier release Sea Monster’s First Day)
Author: Kate Messner
Illustrator: Andy Rash
Genre: Picture Book
Ages: 4 – 7

Download your own Friend Fish pledge here. Use it in the classroom or your own home to promise friend-making over bullying. And good luck!

Have any other books you like to read before school starts? Share them here!

July 18, 2013

anagram THIS

Okay, don’t do that because that would mean a different four-letter word and this is a family-friendly blog. But if you would like to work on some other anagrams, boy do I have the book for you. I LOVE this book! One of the most excited things about having a book blog is getting unexpected goodies in the mail. And Chronicle Books always sends me some awesome ones.

annandnanTitle: Ann and Nan are Anagrams
Author: Mark Shulman
Illustrator: Adam McCauley
Genre: Picture Book
Age: 4 – 9

Ann and Nan are Anagrams is a picture book filled with anagrams. (In case you are thinking “WHAT is she talking about?”, an anagram is a word or a phrase rearranged to make another word or phrase. Like Ann and Nan in the title of this book. Or spot, stop, tops, pots, and post on pages 4 and 5.)

There are some anagrams in the text itself.

Then she whispered like a wise shepherd.

Or how about one of my favorites:

…bring me your aunt. She’s a nut.

And as you might expect, the anagramming leads the story a bit, which leads to a crazy, goofy plot. This page gets an interesting illustration:

The schoolmaster was in the classroom teaching vowels to wolves and feeding presents to serpents.

There are also anagrams spread through the illustrations. Such as “eleven plus two = twelve plus one” on the chalkboard at school or “Gold Roaches Grade School” on the door.

The illustrations are bright and fun and remind me of an old circus poster for some reason. Maybe the fancy fonts (to point out the anagrams) combined with all the yellows and reds.

I love this book for a young reader or even a pre-reader who is learning a few words, because they can really stop and enjoy the words. It teaches them that stories are made of words and words are made of letters and that sometimes, there’s a lot of fun to be had in that!

Let your kids find the anagrams in the text. (It’s made easier with matching font for each one. And you can move on to the anagrams hidden in the pictures as well. Then have them make up their own anagrams. You could write letters on index cards and have them mix and match them around until they find different words. (For example, give them one card with “S”, one with “P”, one with “O” and one with “T” and see if they can rearrange them to make the words from the book I listed above.) Good luck!

July 24, 2012

Ride, Sally Ride: a children’s book character honors the astronaut

As astronaut is someone you look up to literally. Talking with your children about Sally Ride is a way to teach them about an important hero. You could start a great conversation about heroes. Young kids might share their own heroes, which will probably range from Batman to a Tyrannosaurus Rex if you were asking the question in my household. Older kids could talk about the pros and cons of looking at otherwise ordinary humans as heroes. One of the most profound dangers, of course, is that the more we turn our success stories into heroes, the more we make excuses for our own selves about why we aren’t following in their footsteps, the assumption of course, being that we are not heroes ourselves.

However, I think there is still something to be said for honoring the people that have made a difference. In the words of our President, ‎”As the first American woman to travel into space, Sally was a national hero and a powerful role model. She inspired generations of young girls to reach for the stars and later fought tirelessly to help them get there by advocating for a greater focus on science and math in our schools. Sally’s life showed us that there are no limits to what we can achieve and I have no doubt that her legacy will endure for years to come.”

The illustration above is by children’s author and  illustrator Micah Player. According to publisher Lara Starr, “the image features the character Lately, Lily an adventurous young girl who travels the world with her family. Her appreciation for Sally Ride’s boundary-breaking life is shared by many, especially the legions of young girls she inspired to study science and reach for the stars.”

So go, start a conversation, and bring your children that much closer to their own stars.