The Scoop on Children & Adolescent Literature

Posts Tagged ‘Picture Books’

Books for Kids Who Lose Someone by Holly Papa

Posted by hollybookscoops on March 22, 2013

Many of you know this already, but my Grandpa passed away at the end of January. We expected him to go, and were glad that he no longer suffered the effects of age and illness. However, it was still hard. We only live a few miles away, so we saw him on a regular basis. This was my kids first close experience with human loss- we’ve had pets pass before, and they lost some other great grandparents when they were too young to understand much. So of course, I wanted to find books to help my kids through the grieving process. I haven’t found the perfect book- probably because every circumstance is different. But, here are a few books we have read that have helped us share and deal with our grief. I hope they might help you too.


The Dragonfly Door by John Adams, illustrated by Barbara L. Gibson is a book that follows the lifecycle of a Dragonfly through a pair of nymph friends, Lea & Nym. Lea is older than Nym, so she changes from nymph to dragonfly ahead of Nym and Nym is left behind wondering what she did wrong for her friend to leave her. It’s a non-denominational way to express a belief in an after-life in a way kids might relate to. It has won many awards (Mom’s Choice, Benjamin Franklin, & Evelyn Turman Young Readers Book Award), and has beautiful illustrations. I personally found the text longer and more cumbersome than necessary, but my kids liked it and we had a great conversation.


What’s Heaven by Maria Shriver, illustrated by Sandra Speidel

Again, very heavy on the text, but sweet pastel illustrations lend to an angelic feeling in this book. I read it to my kids while they were eating dessert so that their attention span was longer than normal. Despite the long text, there were great discussion points and lots of questions and answers that children deal with whenever someone dies. It follows the journey of Kate, who has just lost her Great Grandmother as she comes to understand that when we lose someone to death, they are still a part of us because they have loved us and taught us things.

Grandpa and Me and the Wishing Star by Barbara J. Porter, illustrated by Dilleen Marsh

This one is also an award winner. Yet again, lots of text (it seems to go hand-in-hand with the subject).

This book reinforces my personal LDS beliefs about death and was a great fit for my kids when their Great-Grandpa passed away. The book starts with a little boy named Jamie and his Grandpa who are best friends. But one day Jamie comes home from school and sees Grandpa being taken away on a stretcher. Later he finds out that Grandpa passed away and he is angry at God for taking him. Jamie goes through some of the stages of grief in a realistic way that I feel is useful for kids to read about so that they know that those feelings are a normal part of grief. My kids had some special experiences with my Grandpa and were able to be with him right up to the end, so they had a lot of feelings to work through.


Always my Brother by Jean Reagan, illustrated by Phyllis Pollema-Cahill

Cari posted a review of this great book two years ago that helps children deal with the loss of a sibling. Please feel free to check out her review and her interview with author Jean Reagan

Grief is a part of life here on earth- we love people and we miss them when they are no longer with us. What are some of your recommendations of books that help children of all ages through this natural, but often painful process of grieving for a loved one?

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | 6 Comments »

Poopendous! by Artie Bennett

Posted by hollybookscoops on September 10, 2012

I have to admit I was excited to get this book to review courtesy of Author Artie Bennett. I know it sounds rather odd that a book like this would excite me so much. But not really, when you consider that I am the mother to four boys. We once spent a whole dinner discussing the finer points of passing gas- yes, everyone- well actually, everything that has a digestive tract does this (we had to do our research after we came to a draw). Your possible next book idea Mr. Bennett?

After reading other reviews, I was prepared for much laughter and hilarity. I was not prepared, however, for what we actually got. My two year old has a new bible. Poopendous is his potty training, all about poop bible. He holds this book and studies it like it is the be all-end all book about poop. I only wish it had a picture of a kid actually sitting on the potty instead of running for the bathroom door in desperation. He knows now that pooping is normal (I’m not sure he was wondering, but just in case) and that there are many different animals that do it in many different places. So, he’s decided he is a puppy and needs to poop like a puppy outside. He ran outside with no pants on just yesterday in a serious attempt to prove to me that he is in charge of where he goes to the bathroom. All the characters in his ‘bible’ poop in different places, so why should he be restricted to the toilet?  I just hope he doesn’t take any cues from the monkey in the book, “Monkeys fling when ender stress it helps the monkey decompress.” Over all though it has encouraged him to make all kinds of poops in his potty. Thank goodness!

A big thumbs up goes to this book about the finer facts of Professor Pip Poopdeck’s favorite subject. And just so you know there was no laughter, just quiet internalizing and digesting of these exhaustive facts. By all four of my boys. I was rather surprised. The other children who have been in our home and looked at this book have all gotten a silly grin on their faces. There’s just something special about a whole book devoted to poop- and in rhyme no less. It deserves our utmost respect and hallowed devotion. Kudos to Mr. Bennett and thanks again for the book!

Posted in Books for teaching Math and Science, Picture Books | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Ramadan Moon by Na’ima B Robert and Shirin Adl

Posted by hollybookscoops on June 25, 2012

This is a sweet book written in verse about the Muslim celebration of Ramadan. I first learned about Ramadan from one of my neighbors in Forest Grove, Oregon back in 2001. I believe my neighbor was pregnant at the time, and the idea of fasting from dawn to dusk was astonishing to me. Iman (my beautiful neighbor) was cheerful about it though. I wish I had this book back then to help me understand all that was celebrated and looked forward to with henna patterns on hands, Eid day and an increased focus on charity, sharing, praying and giving.

Ramadan Moon is a rich and comprehensive picture book that reaches out to share some of the treasured beliefs of Muslim families everywhere. I love the collage enhancements on the illustrations. Well done!

Posted in Picture Books, Poetry | Tagged: , , , | 4 Comments »

The House on Dirty-Third Street by Jo S. Kittinger Illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez

Posted by hollybookscoops on April 16, 2012

We are all about fresh starts, here in America. Fresh starts have been forced upon many families as a result of the real estate crash, massive job-losses, or even after the loss of loved ones whether from divorce, death or any number of unfortunate circumstances.  The House on Dirty-Third Street is a glimpse into the resiliency of the human spirit. Gonzalez’s illustrations gradually fill with more and more color as life gets better and better for a struggling little family starting over. There is a truth to the fact that the help they receive comes after the Mother and her daughter first reach out to help their neighbors, and then are humble enough to ask for help at the corner church on Sunday. Soon, their yard and home are filled with people giving service, reaching out to lift their neighbors. It reminded me of the times when communities would gather for barn raisings and accomplish something in a brief amount of time that would be almost impossible to achieve independently.

Magic is real. You can see it all around you in the wonderful acts of kindness that go on in our schools, neighborhoods and churches. Ugly things can be transformed, communities can be changed. Life does get better. We create a wonderful synchronicity when we come together for a worthwhile cause. Kittinger’s nameless character expected starting over would bring adventure and possibly buried treasure. In her journey of beginning again, she really does find treasure- the treasure of a changing and caring community!

Posted in Picture Books, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

The Prince’s New Pet by Brian Anderson

Posted by hollybookscoops on March 25, 2012

I love graphic novels. I love picture books. This is not a graphic novel, but it appears to be a magical creative blend of graphic/comic/picture book. It reminds me of a comic in picture book form. Fitting, since the author and brilliant illustrator, Brian Anderson is also the comic artist for Dog Eat Doug. My third grader just finished reading two of the Lemony Snicket books and this brings to mind a similar dark feel- everything in Prince Viridian’s life is so dim and dull. Since his mother died and King Cerulean became depressed- the color has just gone out of life.  The color catcher is an evil being that nightmares are made out of, and he’s done his job so well, that there is no color at all. Until the prince gets a special present.

I think this book has a myriad of applications to life. It may have a place in child psychology as an opener to discussions about feelings of sadness and depression. It can be the basis for in-depth discussions with your own children- whether at home or in a classroom. It’s interesting how much literature gets picked apart to discover hidden meanings, an author’s agenda, or that sort of thing. I wonder if Anderson had anything particular in mind or not? Sometimes the story just comes and you go with it and think about hidden meanings later.

I highly recommend The Prince’s New Pet. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Have you ever felt like the color has gone out of life? How do you get the color back in if it’s left? It’s an interesting question to pose to children and adults alike.

Posted in Picture Books, Uncategorized | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Always My Brother by Jean Reagan, Illustrated by Phyllis Pollema-Cahill

Posted by caribookscoops on May 24, 2011

I met Jean Reagan at a Utah Book Bloggers Social in February 2010 and she offered to send me a copy of her book, Always my Brother* for review. She explained what it was about and I knew immediately it was a book I wanted to review. It took me a while (over a year) to post my review, but it is finally here and as part of Utah Author’s Month, Jean also graciously agreed to an author interview. Her book deals with a very hard topic, sibling death. While I have not personally dealt with this, I know people who have and I also look for books that help children deal with all kinds of life’s issues from going to school, to chronic health conditions, to sibling rivalry. Death is probably the hardest topic to discuss with children along with sexuality as it makes adults uncomfortable. It’s hard, nobody likes to talk about it and yet we will all experience it.

I read the book with my then 6 year old and I have to admit I was nervous about reading a book about death with her especially since I am about to give birth to her baby brother. I didn’t want to scare her unnecessarily. Her experience with death is limited to 2 great-grandparents and a dear professor friend of mine. I was pleasantly surprised at how well my daughter liked the book. We had a good conversation about death and life and how all humans die. Plus we could talk about our beliefs in an afterlife.

So with that in mind, I really liked the book. Based on Jean’s own experience of loosing her son and watching her daughter go through the grief process. I have not lost a sibling, but I know it would devastating for me, but would be really hard is to watch my children deal with the death of one of their siblings. Some things I really appreciated about the book is that is mentions nothing about a religion making this book universally available to any child who has lost sibling regardless of belief system. Jean also does not mention a specific cause of death allowing parents or  broadening the audience of her book to any child who has a lost a sibling.

If you know of children who have lost a sibling this would be an excellent choice. In fact, after the school I work at experienced three student deaths within one month this last year, I recommended Always My Brother to our school pyscologist. When I told him about the premise of the book and a bit about Jean’s son, he agreed that siblings are often ignore or missed in the aftermath of a child’s death. He really liked the book and thought it would be a great book to use with children and teens.

Jean Reagan’s website and remember to stay tuned for our author interview with Jean coming Friday, May 27th.

Physllis Pollema-Cahill’s website

*This review copy was given by the author

Posted in Picture Books | Tagged: , , | 5 Comments »

Nic Bishop Butterflies and Moths by Nic Bishop

Posted by caribookscoops on December 7, 2009

We are big fans of Nic Bishop in our house and here at Bookscoops as my sister and I reviewed Nic Bishop Spiders for our Double Scoop in March and I reviewed Nic Bishop Frogs, which is my favorite, the month before. I highly recommend both of those other books. I finally got a copy of Butterflies and Moth meaning we actually purchased this one. My daughter loved the photographs and learning about butterflies. Although I don’t necessarily agree with her about the picture (shown 45 times it’s actual size)  of the newly hatched caterpillar/larvae looking creature – she thought is was adorable. I should have guessed she would think that because after all I did tell her it was a baby caterpillar. To me it’s larvae and it gives me the creeps. That said though it is a lovely book with not only fascinated pictures, but fascinating text to keep the reader engaged.

Another favorite picture is of a caterpillar that resembles a snake. We spent several minutes on that page. I highly recommend this book for anyone looking for a high quality book about such beautiful creatures and butterflies and moths.

This post is part of Nonfiction Monday hosted by Rasco from RIF. Check out some of the other great titles.

Posted in Books for teaching Math and Science, Non-Fiction | Tagged: , | 6 Comments »

Black Book of Colors by Menena Cottin, Illustrated by Rosana Faria, Translated by Elisa Amado

Posted by bookscoops on November 28, 2009

Holly: The Black Book of Colors is amazing. I just keep thinking about how amazing it is. Combining English and Braille, does that qualify as bi-lingual? I’m not sure of the right term to use.

Cari: I loved how the author attempted to describe colors without being able to see, I loved it! The words are delicious.

Holly: Hmmm, I would venture to say that yellow tastes like lemon, not mustard, but it could taste like mustard, or lemon or banana. Which I guess are all delicious in their proper setting.

Cari: I really liked that it made you think differently and appreciate maybe what the world is like for someone who can’t see. I thought the author did an excellent job, and I want it in Spanish since it was orginally written in Spanish.

Holly: Really? It was done in Spanish first?

Cari; Yep, some of the other reviews said that the braille isn’t what a blind person really would read, it needs to be more raised. But it makes you think how important tactile books are for children who are blind because that is how they see the world.

Holly: I had my kids read the book with their eyes closed. (Of course, mine were open, so I could read). They wanted to peek so they could see, their favorite was the rain pouring down – they thought that felt like rain.

Cari: We should clarify that all of the pictures are black, they are not in color, The text is grey.

Holly: The most controversial ‘picture’ for us was the one that was hair and my littlest one adamantly insisted  that doesn’t feel like mommy’s hair.

Cari: I loved that part, I thought it felt like hair.

Holly: I thought it felt like hair too, or at least how hair would ‘feel’ like illustrated on paper.

Cari: I wonder what things felt like for Great Grandma B when she went blind?

Holly: She must have been able to tell quite a bit by the limited colors she could see and what she could feel . . .

Cari: . . .because we each got a quilt made especially for us as her great grandchildren.

Holly: Yep. I still have mine. . . but I won’t rub that little fact in or anything.

Cari: Go right ahead. It’s not like we’ve never brought up this subject before.

And now . . . for a trip down memory lane:

One of our favorite shows to watch growing up was Little House on the Prairie. We loved it so much that we actually played Little House on frequent occasions. A monumental day was when Mary Ingalls was actually declared blind. That changed everything. How would we pretend to be Mary if she couldn’t see? Shortly after this episode, we were hanging out with some friends when we decided to play Little House. Cari got to be the fun-loving rambunctious Laura while Holly (enraptured with the beautiful Melissa Sue Anderson) was thrilled to play Mary.

Cari: You can be Mary, Holly, but it has to be Mary before she was blind, you can’t pretend you can’t see, we all know you can see.

Holly: Oh yeah? I can be blind like Mary, I’ll just keep my eyes closed!

Cari: I’ll make a bet with you. If you can keep your eyes closed the whole time, I’ll let you . . .

Holly: What?

Cari: Um, I’m not sure. I guess I’ll let you be in charge next time.

Holly: Okay! Hey guys, do you want to come over to our house? We could all put on pioneer dresses and play Little House on the Prairie

Cari: Yeah, let’s go. I’ll race you there on my bike.

Friend #1: How are we gonna get there if Holly has to have her eyes closed?

Friend #2: Yeah, you can’t ride a bike with your eyes closed!

Holly: You wanna bet? I betcha I can ride my bike all the way to my house without peaking. Not even once.

Cari: All right! The last one there’s the rotten egg!

Holly: That’s not fair! I didn’t say I’d get there fast! Wait for me!!!

Friend # 1: Woah, Cari, look! I think Holly really has her eyes closed.

Friend # 2: Are you really closing your eyes?

Holly: Don’t my eyes look closed? I promise I”m not peeking. (okay, so honesty didn’t always work in my favor when it came to bets with Cari) Keep talking so I can follow your voices.

Cari: Woah! I think she’s really doing it! She must have learned how to tell where she’s going from that one pillowcase game we play. I didn’t know she’d gotten so good.

Holly: See, I told you I could do it. Now, I get to be in charge! Laura, you’re the younger sister so you have to do what I say. Now, go take care of Carrie!

Cari: No, Mary. I’m too busy playing with my friends right now. We’re going to go fishing by the creek! Too bad you’re blind Mary, or maybe you could come with us. See you later!

Holly: Hey! Wait! I’ll be the Mary before she goes blind! I wanna go fishing too. Wait up!

Posted in Double Scoops, Picture Books | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

Winter Lights by Anna Grossnickle Hines

Posted by hollybookscoops on November 26, 2009



In anticipation of Christmas, I selected one of my favorite books. Since it’s so cool and there is more than just Christmas about it, I really wanted to share it. One of my most recent hobby acquisitions is quilting and I was amazed, to say the least, at the beautiful quilts that illustrate this book. My favorite one is a double-page spread of a young child looking out over hills of snow as the sun is setting. The companion poem echoes the feelings my children have when they get home from school only to have, if they’re lucky, an hour to play in the snow before the sun goes down. The poems and quilts weave together to bring warmth and comfort no matter how that wind is blowing outside!


This unique way of illustrating a book through pictorial quilts has me in awe of the amazing Hines. Equally impressive are the demonstration pages at the back of the book where she shares how she makes her quilts and brings her books to life.



I finally have my first quilt finished. It took me two long years to embroider and piece. It was machine quilted by Joyce Ross, an amazing free-hand quilting artist. My boys and I love to curl up with our snowman quilt and read stories together (after they wash their hands of course). We call it our snowman quilt and creating a tradition of reading with a special quilt has my boys excited to snuggle up and read some winter stories together. They know this quilt is special- they’ve seen me working on it forever!

Posted in Picture Books, Poetry, Uncategorized | Tagged: , | 5 Comments »

Grace for President By Kelly DiPucchio Illustrated by LeUyen Pham

Posted by caribookscoops on March 23, 2009

graceforpresidentbykellydipucchioGrace is learning about the presidents at school. She is floored when she finds out that not a single girl has ever been president of the United States and decides that she wants to be president when she grows up. First though she must win the class election for president.

It’s a very cute and well written book as Grace practices her campaigning and speech giving skills at her elementary school. It also goes through and explains the electoral process, campaigning process and is a great introduction into the women suffrage movement. My daughter and I really liked the illustrations, lots of color and they really help you understand the text. I really liked that the children in the story are of various ethnicities.

Great book for elementary age students to learn about the election process. My daughter (5) really liked this book and even ‘wrote’ her own story about a girl becoming a president complete with villians, bats and a jail cell. Her story consists of about 6 pages of illustrations as she tells the story out loud. but don’t worry the girl in her story gets to be president.

Kelly DiPucchio’s Website and LeUyen Pham’s Website

This book is part of my reading for Woman’s History month, which include: The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch illustrated by Michael Martchenko, When Marian Sang by Pam Muñoz Ryan and Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson.

So here is my question for this book, when do you think we will have a woman president in the United States?

Posted in Picture Books | Tagged: | 3 Comments »


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