Posted in Early Reader, Fiction, Preschool Reads, Realistic Fiction

The Branch gets a new lease on life after a storm

thebranchThe Branch, by Mireille Messier/Illustrated by Pierre Pratt (Sept. 2016, Kids Can Press), $16.95, ISBN: 9781771385640

Recommended for ages 3-7

A little girl’s favorite tree branch comes clattering down during an ice storm. A neighbor teaches her how to repurpose the branch, to create new memories.

What a great book to communicate so many ideas! First, we have the imagination of the tree branch. As the little girl says, the branch,”was my castle, my spy base, my ship…”, and she experiences the grief of losing the branch when she spies it on the sidewalk. She doesn’t want to part with it right away, so her mother allows her to hold onto it for a little while – long enough for the girl to encounter her neighbor, who tells her that the branch is “full of potential! …it means it’s worth keeping”, and we learn that he builds things from salvaged wood, and encourages the little girl to think about what the branch could become. When she uses her imagination and reaches into herself to reimagine the branch, she and the neighbor work together to give the branch new life.

In addition to imagination, we’ve got reusing/recycling, which is great for the environment; showing a child unwilling to discard a tree branch as a casualty of the storm, and finding ways to recreate it will get kids thinking about what they could create with objects in the world around them: cereal boxes could become robots or cities for superheroes to protect; old cans can become pencil holders; soda bottles can become terrariums. There are thousands of ideas on the Internet, so there’s no need to wait for Earth Day to come around again to make kids aware of the fun things they can make when they reduce/reuse/recycle.

Finally, we’ve got making: the whole creative process is here: sketching out plans, sawing, planing, drying the wood, waiting, waiting, waiting. It’s a great book to feature with The Most Magnificent Thing, HowToons, and fun nonfiction books, like those in the Make series. Encourage kids and parents to work together on anything from paper airplanes (great use of catalog paper) to repurposing a tree branch – large or small – of your own.

Mireille Messier is a Toronto-based author who’s had over a dozen books published in French. She’s also one of the French reviewers for the National Reading Campaign. Her website is available in English or French and offers information about her books, school visits, and her blog. Pierre Pratt is an award-winning illustrator of over 50 books for children. He lives and works in Montreal, Quebec, and in Lisbon, Portugal.

 

Posted in Intermediate, Middle Grade, Non-fiction, Non-Fiction, Tween Reads

Let’s Sew: DK helps you get started

letssew_1Let’s Sew, by DK (March 2016, DK Children), $15.99, ISBN: 9781465445087

Recommended for ages 6-10

Ready to get crafty but need a little bit of help? DK to the rescue with a step-by-step guide to beginning stitches, the tools you’ll need to begin sewing, easy, fun projects, and templates, too!

DK books are great because they’re beautifully photographed, incredibly detailed, and full of simple, explanatory text. Let’s Sew has bright, fun crafts projects, many made by using household items like that one missing sock that always seems to emerge from the dryer, or with affordable materials you can find at your local craft store.

Let’s Sew is a kid’s book, but it’s a great resource for any age. When I started knitting, I’d borrow children’s project books because of the simpler language and projects: books are for everyone, after all! Just starting up a sewing club or looking for a quick maker space project? This is your book. There are helpful templates for projects like a whale and a bird in the back of the book: just photocopy, trace onto your material, and begin!

The book includes a warning that kids will be working with sharp needles and scissors, and strongly suggests that an adult oversee or handle the tools as necessary. This is a fun, affordable addition to crafting collections; a good purchase.

 

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