Miss Rumphius Makes the World More Beautiful


Miss Rumphius by two time Caldecott winning author and illustrator Barbara Cooney (Viking Books for Young Readers, 1982).  Cooney won the National Book Award the year it was publsihed.  She was also the U.S. nominee in 1994 for the biennial, international Hans Christian Andersen Award, the highest international recognition for creators of children’s books.  This book was first published in 1982 and continues to strike a chord readers of all ages.   This book is one that I remember checking out of the library as a child and just dreaming of what I would do to make the world more beautiful.

Fast forward thirty years and I find myself reading it with the same enthusiasm I had all those years ago, but this time to my petites.  This story is about Alice Rumphius, who dreamed of traveling the world, living her life in a house by the sea, and most importantly follow her grandfathers advice to make the world more beautiful.  This story, is absolutely timeless – what she does to make the world a more beautiful place.  The illustrations of this book are so stunning and so perfect, you will be transported alongside Alice on her mission to make the world more beautiful.  Miss. Rumphius over the course of many years drops lupine seeds all around her community filling it with beauty for years to come.
During the reading of this story we stop at many parts and discuss what is happening.  We discuss where we might like to travel, or what jobs we think would make us happy, where we might like to live; etc.  When the story ends, I asked my petites what think they would do to make the world more beautiful…and I waited my seven year old took only a few moments, she said that she would like to swim all over the oceans of the world and collect all of the garbage that people have left behind.  My three year old very thoughtfully told us that she would like to help the birds, by taking care of them and feeding them if they cannot find food on their own.
I was thrilled to have this amazing interaction with my petites, this book provides you with such a remarkable way to connect with your children, to understand what they are thinking, what they value and how they feel like they might be able to contribute to making the world a better or more beautiful place.
This book got me thinking of how much fun it would be to share this story with students, to read them this beautiful story and have them think of the three things that they would like to accomplish like Miss. Rumphius and then what they would like to do to make the world more beautiful.  There are so many possibilities of how you could you this book in your classroom.
  • one or two sentences and a picture
  • free write about what they would do to make the world more beautiful
  • five paragraphs about who they would make the world more beautiful, why they would want to do it and how they could encourage others to make the world more beautiful
  • brainstorming with table group ways that they could make their community more beautiful and then share aloud
  • make a list of the things “Ways in Which My Life Would Be Different” and “Ways in Which My Life Would Be The Same” if I lived on a tropical island
  • Brainstorm several examples of beauty in the world. Sorting ideas into different lists, such as:
    • natural things
    • made by humans
    • things to do: actions


  • make drawings or collages to represent what they would do to make the world more beautiful
  • recreate their favorite part of the book
  • paint lupines using bubble wrap dipped in paint
  • finger painting lupines


  • tropical island study: learn the plants and animals that live there. (like the island Miss. Rumphius visited)
  • buy a packet of lupine seeds and plant them and do predictions about how the seeds will grow and then plant them around the community or the school
  • Watch The Magic School Bus “Goes to Seed” episode to learn more about seeds

When I worked in the elementary world, I had the most fun making  bulletin boards, with one of my very best teacher friends, and this one would be amazing to create a hillside with lupines filled with what the kids would do to make the world a better place/more beautiful.

What I love most about this book is that it is still so relevant, maybe now more than ever.  Barbara Cooney filled a void that was present at the time in children’s books, a void that I believe many authors and illustrators are still trying to navigate.  Here are her thoughts on receiving the Caldecott in 1959:

 “I believe that children in this country need a more robust literary diet than they are getting…. It does not hurt them to read about good and evil, love and hate, life and death. Nor do I think they should read only about things that they understand…. a man’s reach should exceed his grasp. So should a child’s. For myself, I will never talk down to—or draw down to—children.” 

We couldn’t agree more.  This is a timeless tale that petites of all ages will enjoy.


Petite Patriots: Part Five

Eek! We are only a few days away from the election, have you voted yet?  We voted last night as a family with our two petites and discussed what it means to vote, what types of things we can vote for and how even one vote can make a difference.

For today’s Petite Patriots we have three books to share with you:

Screen Shot 2016-11-01 at 11.44.33 AM.png

Duck for President by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2004) two powerhouses in the kid lit world.  Duck for President is the 3rd book in the Click, Clack, Moo series; this book is filled with wit and is perfect for reading aloud to petites.  This is the story of Duck who believes that he is more equipped to run the farm than Farmer Brown, so he holds an election.  Once he wins, he takes his political prowess all the way to the top.  This book is perfectly marvelous and would be so much fun to share with preschool to third graders.

petite-stag-favoriteMonster Needs Your Vote by Paul Czajak and Wendy Grieb (Mighty Media Kids, 2015) is so bold and bright it begs you to read it.  This book is not only cute it is exceptionally educational.  We found ourselves stopping at many different points to discuss the new terminology that is being used.  What we loved about this book are the ample teaching opportunities, to discuss voting age, soapboxes, oratory skills, issues, town hall meetings, debates, grassroots movement and so much more.  This book is the perfect jumping off point to discuss the election process.  To perhaps even use as part of  a mock debate.  This book is bright and cheery enough to hold small petites attention even when the content is too advanced.  The recommended age for this book is preschool to third grade, but for comprehension of all the details I would say 1st grade to fourth grade.  Teachers, be sure to check this one out there are tons of great teachable moments just waiting for you.

Vote for Me! by Ben Clanton (Kids Can Press, 2012) is spectacular, it has a Mo Willems like feel, a very clever duo and of course convey the mudslinging that is often times found in politics.  This book, offers something a little different than the others that we have shared before, it really focuses on the satire of the political process, the negative name calling that can take place.  We loved the anti-bullying, anti-arguing message that is so strong in this book.  A quick read, but one that is sure to tickle your petites.

In case you are just tuning in, here are the links for prior Petite Patriots:


Counting Concepts for Petites

Counting Concepts.png

My three year old Vivienne, has been wanting to do “lessons” like her big sister for months now.  So since this school year started we’ve been focusing on lessons each day.  So of course, we go to the library a few times a week and get new books.  This week I let her choose a bag full of books and some of these were among her picks.

Musk Ox Counts by Erin Cabatingan and illustrated by Matthew Myers (Neal Porter Press, 2013) is one silly read.  This book is a perfect shape for little hands, filled with tons of silly drama from Musk Ox and Zebra.  This story is as silly as can be, we thoroughly enjoyed reading about Musk ox messing up the counting pages.

8 an Animal Alphabet by Elisha Cooper (Orchard Books, 2015) the premise of this book is simply too much fun.  On each page there is one animal that is shown 8 times, and your job is to find that animal.  I love this book, from the opening whiner Elisha Cooper explains why 8 is the number you’re looking for.  “Because 8 is great, because 8 is round and adorable”.  Too much fun!  Oh, this is also a bang for your buck book because it covers the alphabet too, making this one awesome book for petite learners.

Abagail by Catherine Rayner (Tiger Tails, 2013) Abigail is a giraffe who loves to count, she counts just about anything she can find; even her friends.  They count all day and into the evening, the illustrations are beautiful and sure to get your petite counting.

Turtle Splash: Countdown at the Pond by Cathryn Falwell (Greenwillow Books, 2001) is modeled after the counting song.  It is a terribly fun read and sing along.  We completely enjoyed reading this really fun counting book and counting the turtles.

Bear Counts by Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman (Simon & Schuster, 2015) is a charming book, this book is filled with glorious rhymes and darling illustrations that will make this a perfect read for any petite who is learning about numbers, but also loves a great story.  One of our favorite pages is number 5!

As part of the petites counting lessons, we’ve been using little hippo counters to help her to learn more about counting objects, these have been incredibly helpful.  These counters are so much fun because they have endless uses:

  • sorting by color
  • sorting by type
  • counting
  • story telling
  • patterns
  • comparing numbers – which is larger or smaller

You will also be able to find counters for your petites online, here are some super cute ones that we’ve been eyeing on amazon.



If you have any other counting books that your petite’s are loving please let me know we’d love to check them out.

Gender and Friendship in a Tender Story

Screen Shot 2016-08-24 at 10.51.00 AM

Introducing Teddy: a gentle story about gender and friendship by Jessica Walton and illustrated by Dougal MacPherson (Bloomsbury, 2016) is a poingnat tale of a little boy Errol and his teddy bear, Thomas.  Like most petites Errol and his trusty companion play together, ride their bikes, plant in the garden and have sandwiches in tree houses for lunch.

One day things change, Thomas didn’t feel like playing.  Errol being an empathetic friend tries to cheer Thomas up by taking him to the park, but it doesn’t work.  Thomas is torn, because he clearly wants to talk to his best friend, but he is worried that once he tells Errol what he is feeling that Errol won’t want to be his friend anymore.  With some gentle reassurance from Errol, Thomas begins to tell him what is on his mind:

Thomas the teddy took a deep breath.  “I need to be myself, Errol.  In my heart, I’ve always known that I’m a girl teddy, not a boy teddy.  I wish my name was Tilly, not Thomas.”

What happens next is the most amazing realization for Tilly, that it doesn’t matter to Errol if he is Thomas or Tilly as long as teddy is his friend.  The story continues in the most accepting and lovely of ways.  Their friend Ava joins them at the park with more encouragement and acceptance.  The message is that whatever makes you happy is what is most important.  That Errol and Ava are true friends because they love Tilly.

The story ends with what I believe to be the most important message, that Errol and Tilly play together, ride their bikes in the backyard, plant in their garden and of course still enjoy sandwiches perched in a tree house; just like they did before.

I think that this book does an amazing job of talking about acceptance, friendship and gender.  We spend a lot of time in our house talking about what we feel and how sometimes we feel more like a girl or a boy and that is all part of being human of being true to yourself.  We believe firmly that everyone has the right to be happy, to be accepted for who they are, not to be judged, but instead loved and supported.  Introducing Teddy, is a book that helps start this conversation with petites, about what it means to be a good friend, to accept your friends for who they are…to be understanding.  What an important lesson to teach at an early age.

Here is a peak into the illustrations from Dougal MacPherson

Also, Bloomsbury has created an  activity pack to go along with the book.

A Tribute to Women in Science

Women in Science.png
Women in Science – 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World by Rachel Ignotofky (Ten Speed Press, 2016) is a book that is so beautifully illustrated you will have to read it multiple times to see all of the intricate details.  You absolutely need to get your hands on this book right now!  Seriously, it is by far one of the most swoon worthy books I have seen to date.  It is simply put – gorgeous!  Not only is this book beyond amazingly illustrated, it is filled with so many glorious facts and mini biographies that you will be sure to learn new facts about some of the most important women in science.
Hypatia - p9
We are living in a very exciting time right now in children’s books, we are seeing so many new, innovative books celebrating the genius of women.  This book is a perfect example of what I am talking about, Rachel Ignotofksy has created a book that is as much for a petites bedtime story, as it is a middle schoolers science project reference, or possibly a lovely book to sit on your coffee table and read at your leisure.
Marie Curie - p29
These mini biographies are just enough to get your petites a thorough understanding of these incredibly smart and talented women.  The little facts and bits of interesting trivia that surround the biographies are so much fun to read.  My daughters have been listening intently to life and accomplishments of these brilliant women with loads of questions about how they got to be so smart, brave, courageous and adventurous.
Sylvia Earle - p93
When you give your petites quality books to read and listen to there is only one consequence, you will fill their minds with all the possibilities.  You will give them ideas about what they can strive to do to make the world a better place.  This book does just that, it celebrates women who have made remarkable contributions to not only the world, but to the scientific community.
These women are truly role models for every single young girl who has ever had a dream – this book belongs in every classroom, in every library, in every petites hands.  Eventhough now more than ever children have the potential to be anything they want, there are still too many young girls who believe that their dreams are only dreams.  This book, in my opinion, sets out to change that.  By making these stories known, we can encourage our girls to dream big and to believe that they can accomplish anything.
Bloggers Note:
All Images Reprinted with permission from Women in Science Copyright © 2016 by Rachel Ignotofsky. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.
I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.  All thoughts and opinions shared within this post are my own.

Everyone Makes Mistakes

Many petites really struggle with making mistakes.  Often times it is a fear that they will get in trouble, or embarrassment that they didn’t get it right the first time, or perhaps they just don’t like to be wrong.  Whatever the reason may be many kids struggle with making mistakes and how that makes them feel doubt or shame.

As a teacher and a mom of two young girls teaching about making mistakes is a priority, how we react to making those mistakes can determine quite a bit.  Making mistakes helps to build stamina as well as provides learning opportunities.  However, if your petites are too concerned about making mistakes that they don’t take risks, or adventure or an opportunity for new learning then that is when problems can arise.

Stickley Makes Mistakes Cover.png

Recently, I had the opportunity to spend some time reading Stickley Makes a Mistake: A Frog’s Guide to Trying Again by Brenda S. Miles and illustrated by Steve Mack (Magination Press); this book will be hitting shelves next month on August 16th.  This book is all about a young frog named Stickley.  He, like most petites doesn’t like to make mistakes, he strives for perfection and when he doesn’t attain it, well he doesn’t want to try again. As a teacher this was something that was all too familiar with little ones who struggle and make mistakes.   This book is filled with encouragement and support.

 Nobody’s perfect and good things can happen –  even when you make mistakes!

Stickley Makes Mistakes offers subtle ways to support children as they naturally make mistakes.  We love that the suggestions are to ask for help, feel proud for trying, practicing, how mistakes can sometimes be happy surprises and huge successes and that nobody is perfect.  This is incredibly important for our young girls.

Stickley Makes Mistakes

This book was published by the American Psychological Association and offers a parents, caregivers and teachers guide in the back of the book.  I love this approach, because the book is fantastic and with the incredibly helpful tips in the back the learning can be extended beyond the pages of Stickley.

I think that Stickley Makes Mistakes is a important book, one that should be in every single kindergarten classroom; because making mistakes and navigating challenging situations and problem solving skills are so incredibly important.  This book is a perfect read for preschool through third grade.  The tips in the back are ones all lower elementary teachers and parents should read and learn more about.

Thank you to Magination press for this wonderful book and use of the images for this post.  I received this book from Magination Press in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions and thoughts about Stickley Makes a Mistake are my own.  Magination Press, publishes many books to support the social and emotional well being of petites check out their website to learn more about these titles.

Our Love for Jan Brett

A few years ago I had the pleasure of working with a first grade teacher who introduced me to the world of Jan Brett.  This teacher was one of those teachers that you wish your petites could have over and over again.  Her passion for teaching literacy and her love of Jan Brett was so evident when she read the fantastic stories aloud.  At the time I was a facilitator (for non-teacher folks, that means I didn’t have a classroom, I was able to move around and support students in all classes throughout the day); being a facilitator provided me an opportunity to spend time in the classroom and work with my students who were learning English and I often found myself in this teachers classroom for the literacy block.  It almost seems silly to say it, but I sat patiently and quietly on the floor and fell madly in love with the Jan Brett stories that she read.

Jan Brett, has been writing and illustrating stories for years, she has over 40 million books in print, incredible!  She publishes a new book just about every year, and when you take a moment to look at the incredible illustrations you will wonder how on earth she is able to do it; it’s quite possible she might have super powers.

So let’s dive into the books; there are a ton of them, so for this post, I am only going to cover my absolute favorites.

Screen Shot 2016-07-03 at 3.15.11 PM

The Mitten (1996) is a Ukrainian classic about a young boy who has white mittens and happens to lose one in the snow, this story is all about how many animal friends can fit into this white mitten.  This is a story of whimsy and delight.  This is one of my personal favorites to share with little ones.

Town Mouse Country Mouse (2003) is the story of two mouse couples who are tired of the day to day mouse grind and want a change of scenery.  This story switches back and forth with lovely lush greens of the country to the staggering beauty of the town.  This is a beautiful story and the illustrations are some of my very favorite.

The Hat (1997) is a story of a little hedgehog who finds stocking that has blown off of a clothes line.  Hedgie loves his new hat and all of the animals tease him for his new hat.  However, in the end Hedgie gets the last laugh.  Lisa, the owner of the stocking, has to track down all of her missing woolen things from all the silly animals.  This story is sure to get a laugh.

Hedgie’s Surprise (2000) this is a tale set in Denmark, little Hedgie helps Henny protect her eggs from Tomten who is stealing them daily.  She tries everything to trick Tomten by putting a berry, mushroom and finally a potato and nothing stops him from taking the eggs, until Hedgie comes to save the day.  This is another story that will have petites rooting for Hedgie and Henny.

The Umbrella (2004) I absolutely love this book, it’s about Carlos a young boy who lives in the Costa Rican jungle and the adventure that embarks on.  It is one brilliantly illustrated page after the other.  The animals are amazing and petites have so much guessing what will happen next.  Even though we as readers, see tons of animals Carlos doesn’t see a single one while they play with his umbrella.

Mossy (2012) I think this might be my absolute favorite of her books, the illustrations and the story are so lovely.  This is the story of a scientist Dr. Carolina and her niece Tory.  The two find this amazing little box turtle that has the most unusual garden growing on her back.  They take Mossy to their museum and keep her there for a year for all the visitors to see; but in the end they realize Mossy is sad and belongs back at Lilypad Pond and so they reunite her with her pond and her love Scoot.

Screen Shot 2016-07-03 at 3.19.14 PM.png

Goldilocks and the Three Bears (1987) this is the telling of the Goldilocks and the Three  Bears.  What I love best is the gorgeous illustrations, on the side panels there are little foreshadowing images of what it to come.  We love books with little hints about what it to come.

Armadillo Rodeo (1995) Is a story about a little girl Harmony Jean and Bo the armadillo who  just like Harmony Jean loves a good old Texas adventure.  Bo is on a search for a red armadillo (which happens to be a cowboy boot, on Harmony Jeans foot) and in the midst of his search he encounters some new friends and some spicy eats.  What I love most about this story is Bo’s amazing attitude and his mamas wonderful instincts for her baby.

The Three Snow Bears (2007) This is another take on the classic three little bears, but this time set far north with the Inuit.  This is a stunning take on the three bears, with gorgeous illustrations.

Beauty and the Beast (1990) to be honest, I love this book the art is amazing.  The side panels and tapestries in the background are lovely for foreshadowing.  To be completely honest, my youngest (three years-old)  thinks the illustrations are a little frightening.  It is a stunning take on the classic Beauty and the Beast.

Honey…Honey…Lion! (2005) Is a story set in africa, with the honey badger and honeyguide bird.  The two usually work together as a team, but one day the badger becomes greedy and refuses to share.  Honeyguide has had enough and plays a rather elaborate trick to teach him a lesson.

The 3 Little Dassies (2010) this is the story of the three little pigs but with a twist.  Set in Australia this is a darling take on a classic.  I am sure three little piggy fans will adore this book.

Here is a really great book for teachers filled with all sorts of ways to start using Jan Brett books in your classroom.  Teaching with Favorite Jan Brett Books

Teachers and parents often times Jan Brett books are part of the Scholastic catalog, even if they are not in the little fliers that come home with the petites the titles can be found online.  


Here is my Pinterest page for all things Jan Brett.

Finding Dory Inspired Book List

Screen Shot 2016-06-26 at 11.59.42 AM

We took the petites to see Finding Dory yesterday and it was FANTASTIC, I seriously cannot handle how amazing Pixar is at putting out such quality films.  The girls love the ocean and all the things that live beneath the surface, so when I started thinking about the books that we already have on our shelves that are tried and true and a few others that we borrowed from the library  it was quite clear that we needed to put together a list of our favorites.

 Breathe by Scott Magoon (Simon & Schuster, 2014) This book is all about Dory’s message, just keep swimming.  The story follows a baby beluga through out their day, a lovely message of play, swim and breathe.  Perfect for 2-7 year olds, also a really great first read book as the text is sparse.

1001 Things to Spot in the Sea by Katie Daynes (Usborne, 2009).  This is a really fun book that will keep kids busy for a while searching for all of the hidden items.  We love the Usborne 1001 books they are really well done, with fantastically busy pictures, perfect for 3-7 year olds.

Coral Reefs by Jason Chin (Flash Point, 2011) is a perfect book for transporting you to another world.  This book is full of mystery and intrigue, filled with opportunities to talk about “what if”.  This book is perfect for 5-9 year olds.

Commotion in the Ocean by by Giles Andreae and art by David Wojtowyez (Tiger Tales, 2002) is a silly read that will have your petites giggling in no time.  The poetic verses will be sure to capture the attention of your petites along with the vibrant colors, and you are set for an undersea journey with your petite.  Perfect for ages 2-6.

 24 Hours in the Coral Reef (DK Children’s, 2005)  This non-fiction book is so unique and so stunning in its gorgeous photographs, much like all the other DK books you’ve grown to love.  This book is a unique look at what happens hour by hour in a coral reef.  My girls find this book to be enchanting and love looking and talking about the pictures.  This book is geared toward 10-17 year olds because of its scientific text, however, with guidance this book can be accessed at a much younger age.
Usborne Lift The Flap Under the Sea by Jessica Greenwell and Peter Scott (Usborne, 2010) is a gorgeous book that your budding marine biologists will love.  This book is perfect for 2 year olds and up, however, if your petites doesn’t rip the flaps, then this can be for an even younger babe.

National Geographic Ocean Animals by Johnna Rizzo (National Geographic Children’s Books, 2016) is a gorgeous book filled incredible pictures to pique curiosity and help petites who are interested in learning more about the animals in Finding Nemo and Dory.  Get to know the real animals in this stunning fact filled non-fiction book is perfect for 8-12 year olds.

 Life in the Ocean:the story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle by Claire A Nivola (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012) is a gorgeous look at the life of Sylvia Earle.  This book is gorgeous, we have checked this book out from the library quite a few times.  It tells the story of how Sylvia’s passion for the ocean was sparked as a young girl in the Gulf of Mexico and how she went on to work as an oceanographer.  It is gorgeous and reminds me a little of Me…Jane which we love so much.  Perfect for the 4-8 age set.

 The Magic School Bus on the Ocean Floor by  Joanna Cole and Bruce Degen (Scholastic, 1994) let’s just start by saying who doesn’t love Ms. Frizzle?  Who doesn’t wish that she could be your teacher?  Okay, so lets talk about this book, it is just like all the other books, busy pages with little perfect conversation bubbles.  Ms. Frizzle with her fantastic wardrobe, and you get to learn about science in a fun way.  Yes, please.  These are tried and true books, perfect for budding scientists.  Suggested age range is around 4-8 years old.

Now for my favorite part, do you have a book that would fit perfectly into this list?  If you do, we would love to hear about it and add it.

Happy Reading!



The Octopus Scientists

Recently I was I reading news updates and one stuck out to me immediately, Inky the Octopus Escapes from a New Zealand Aquarium.  It is no secret that my family and petites are ocean loving people, so this is a story I cannot wait to share with my petite when she gets home from school today.  Basically what happened is a very smart octopus decided he wanted an adventure and that his current living situation was too small – why stay in an aquarium when you can roam the entire ocean?  So, Inky escaped from his enclosure making a daring escape crossing eight feet and into a drain where he slid down a 164 foot drain pipe to the sea.  Amazing, I love that these animals can be so sneaky and smart.  You may remember last year our own resident octopus attempted a jail break at the Seattle Aquarium.  Watch the video clip, here.  Hilarious.  I love these animals and so do my girls.  Which is why we’ve been reading this fabulous book about Octopus Scientists.

Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 1.20.55 PM

Many of the books I share at The Petite Stag are fiction so I am really excited to be sharing this amazing non-fiction book.  The Octopus Scientist: Exploring the Mind of a Mollusk by Sy Montgomery and photographs by Keith Ellenbogen.  Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Co., 2015.  This book is perfect for the budding marine naturalist age range roughly 5th to 8th grade.  However, since I am reading it aloud and discussing the more academic scientific words as we read, this book can be made accessible to kids as young as six.  Through this book you learn about the scientists who are studying the octopus on the island of Moorea in French Polynesia.  This book is perfect for the budding naturalist or a kiddo doing a report on this most interesting mollusk.

The photographs by Keith Ellenbogen are gorgeous, there is a particular part that both the petites love where a photo series has captured the color changing process.  I find that introducing animals or honestly anything is always more fun with interesting facts and this book provides you with many interesting tidbits along the way.  In fact, this morning as Zoe raced to the bus stop I heard her telling a much older bus rider that “did you know that  an octopus has three hearts and they pump blue blood?  They do!”.  I love that this book delves deeply into the science, into the octopus and the role that they play in our oceans and what their health means for the oceans’ health.  The images that are in this book perfectly capture the scientific process and are quite exciting to curious minds.  This book really gets you thinking about this incredibly smart animal.

Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 12.51.27 PM

For more reading about these delightfully intelligent and adventurous creatures check out this article interviewing the author of this book Sy Montgomery.  He wrote another book, which made him a finalist for the National Book Award and also the esteemed status of being a New York Times Bestseller, The Soul of an Octopus, Simon and Schuster, 2015.

Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 1.06.37 PM

I think that these World Octopus Day fact sheets are perfect to get petites interested in the nifty octopus.  I know I certainly love the fun facts.  I hope you enjoy checking out these fascinating reads.

Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 1.18.04 PM


The Night Gardener, where magic awaits you when you wake

Recently, I discovered a magical book that will capture your heart.  In The Night Gardener by The Fan Brothers, published by Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2016.  This book takes place on Grimloch Lane in what I am guessing is the 1940s.  This book is about a little boy, William,  who makes a magical discovery when he wakes one morning.  The tree outside his window that had been a completely ordinary tree when he went to sleep the night before had somehow transformed into an owl.  William wondered how this magical owl could have appeared; only to find that the following morning another topiary appeared.  With each new topiary that was created the crowds of people grew and grew, all in wonder an amazement in how the trees were transformed into such whimsical designs and who could possibly be doing it.

I don’t want to spoil the fun, but William decides he wants to know how these magical topiaries are coming to be, so he waits and follows until he finds out.  William meets a new friend who shows him all of his artistic abilities.  Together they work into the wee hours of the morning creating some of the most spectacular sculptures.  Overtime, the seasons begin to change and the leaves fall.  However, the people of the town had changed along with all those magical trees.

I would be remiss, if I did not share the amazing talents of Eric & Terry Fan who illustrated this book; their first book.  The illustrations start out dreary with a deep sense of sadness.  Williams’ home is in the Grimloch Orphanage and a sense of despair is conveyed in the sepia tones of the illustrations.  When the topiaries start to appear little dabs of color here and there enter into the story, bringing with it life, joy and a sense of magical wonder.  By the time the fourth topiary appears all the colors of the rainbow are present.  By the time the fifth tree is sculpted the town people appear with musical instruments and balloons.  The topiaries bring the town to life with whimsy.

This book is intended for preschool age to third grade.  With that said, I think that this book would be perfect to use in the classroom for creative writing in upper elementary and middle school.  I love how the illustrations play such a critical role in the telling of this story – I would love to use this story to exemplify mood and tone.  Another area where I think that this book would be a fantastic choice would be in an upper grade art class.  These illustrations are the epitome of mood and feeling.  I think it would be an amazing study to have students choose a feeling or mood and then illustrate it in a similar way.  Doesn’t that sound like an amazing art lesson to you?

I love this book, I found myself reading it well after the petites had gone to bed and gushing about the incredible talent of Eric and Terry Fan to my husband.  I also wanted to know more about the genesis of this lovely book and the inspiration behind Williams journey.  I can’t wait to hear what you think about this book, please tell me what you think either here on the blog or on our Facebook page.

If you think this book sounds interesting, please also consider checking out the following book as well, Grandpa Green by Lane Smith, I wrote about it here.  It too is gorgeously illustrated and a fantastic story that needs to be on your petites shelf.