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review 2018-09-09 05:21
Imagine That
The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend - Dan Santat

The Adventures of Beekle, The Unimaginary Friend tells the story of Beekle, an adorable little marshmallow-looking character who is in search of a real child. You see, Beekle comes from a faraway land, where day after day he patiently awaits for a child to imagine him. After waiting for many nights he decides to do the unimaginable: embark on a journey to the real world. This short story is full of bright, beautiful illustrations and will undoubtedly capture the hearts and imaginations of young readers. Many children will be able to connect with the story by relating an imaginary friend that they once had (or have) with Beekle. 


After reading the story aloud I would discuss the themes of friendship and bravery. ("Beekle faced many scary things on his quest to find his friend...what are some ways that you show courage?") Another way to follow up the story would be to have students design their own imaginary friend. Since Beekle resembled a cute marshmallow puff, give students marshmallows (both jumbo and small), toothpicks, a sharpie, foil paper, scissors, and tape and let them go to town crafting their new friend! I also love the idea of connecting the story to Maurice Sendak's Where The Wild Things Are. In what ways are the stories alike? In what ways are they different? Students could draw a Venn Diagram to show the relationship between the two.


Recommended for Ages: 5-7

Lexile Level: AD480L 

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review 2017-09-12 01:50
Swimmy by Leo Lionni
Swimmy - Leo Lionni

Title:  Swimmy

Author:  Leo Lionni

Genre:  Animals / Drama / Family / Danger

Year Published: 1963

Year Read:  2010

Publisher:  Alfred A. Knopf

Source:  Library

Content Rating:  Ages 5+ (Some Scary Scenes and Death of a Family Member)




I have have heard works from Dr. Seuss, Maurice Sendak, Marc Brown and David Wiesner, but I have finally stumbled upon some works that came from my childhood a long time ago and those works consist of Leo Lionni! “Swimmy” is a Caldecott Honor book by Leo Lionni and it is about how an unusual little fish named Swimmy, who survives a giant fish attack, tries to find another family to live with. “Swimmy” may have an intense scene with the big fish that might frighten small children, but I am pretty sure that most children will easily enjoy this book!

Once there lived a happy school of small fish who were all red except for one fish was black and his name was Swimmy. One terrible day however, a huge tuna fish came by and swallowed up all of the red fish except for Swimmy who had escape from the huge tuna. Swimmy, now the sole survivor of a tuna attack, then swims around in the deep watery world by himself in order to find a new family to be in.

Will Swimmy find a new family?

Read this book to find out!

Never have I read a children's book that has both effective drawings and a heartwarming story at the same time as Leo Lionni has made this book! Leo Lionni has done an excellent job at both illustrating and writing this book as it details the adventures of a unique black fish named Swimmy. Leo Lionni's illustrations might look a little bit simplistic, however, they are extremely effective and colorful, especially of the images of the underwater world where it seems that Leo Lionni took a piece of sponge and patted the background with the painted sponge, which really brings out the creativity of the images of the underwater world. The image that truly stood out the most for me was the image of Swimmy himself as he is shown to be the only black fish among a group of red fishes, who merely look like red outlines of fish. Leo Lionni has certainly made this book extremely intense yet heartwarming at the same time as I have felt sympathy for Swimmy after he lost his family to a tuna fish and I can understand how many children and adults will also sympathize with Swimmy's predicament, especially if they lost loved ones to an accident.


Parents should know that at the beginning of this book, Swimmy's family is eaten by a giant tuna fish and that might be too upsetting for smaller children to handle. On a side note, this scene strongly reminds me of a scene in “Finding Nemo” where Marlon's family except Nemo is also eaten by a huge fish and how Marlon has to cope with protecting his only son from anymore danger. Parents might want to discuss about death of a family member with their children before they read them this book.

Overall, “Swimmy” is a highly emotional and heartwarming book for children who have also lost their family members and how they can still find love among friends and other family members. I personally would recommend this book to anyone who loves Leo Lionni's works and learning about what it takes to be a true family. I would recommend this book to children ages five and up since the scene where the big fish eats all the other fish might scare smaller children.

Review is also on: Rabbit Ears Book Blog


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review 2017-08-13 05:01
There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly by Simms Taback
There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly - Simms Taback

Genre:  Surreal / Humor / Chain Reaction / Food / Animals

Year Published: 1997

Year Read:  2009

Publisher:  Viking




“There was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly” is a silly lyrical book rewritten from a 1940s American folk poem by Simms Taback and is a Caldecott Honor Book. This book is about how an old lady manages to swallow every animal that comes in her path for no reason, until she goes a bit too far towards the end. This book is full of silly fun, but smaller children might want to watch out for the disturbing ending. 

Simms Taback has done an excellent job at writing this story as it sounds upbeat and is creative, especially when he states about why the old lady swallow one animal after the other. Simms Taback also brings some attitude to the story as he makes it seem like what the old lady is doing is absurd, such as how he stated that it was absurd how the old lady swallowed a bird. Simms Taback also does a superb job at illustrating this book as he makes each character look surreal. The image that stood out the most was the image of the old lady herself as she is the most surrealistic looking character in the entire book. The old lady has bloodshot eyes throughout the book indicating she is crazy and her dress is black and has colorful dots painted all over her dress. I also love the way that Simms Taback made die cuts in this book when she shows the animals that the old lady has swallowed in her belly and the die cut gets larger the larger the animal she swallows gets. 


Parents should know that the ending might be too disturbing for smaller children. I will not spoil the ending for you, but it does deal with the subject of death and children might worry about the concept of death. Parents might want to explain to their children about how death is apart of life and be careful into how they are explaining this theme since smaller children might not understand the full concept of death. Also, parents might want to talk to their children about he difference between reality and fantasy, especially since this book was not meant to be taken seriously and the things that the old lady has done does not really happen like that in real life.

There was an Old Lady who swallowed a fly” is certainly one silly book that children will love for many years. I would recommend this book for children ages five and up since the format is simple for children to read, but the ending will definitely disturb smaller children since they do not understand about death in real life.

Review is also on: Rabbit Ears Book Blog


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review 2017-05-13 23:16
One Morning in Maine by Robert McCloskey
One Morning in Maine (Picture Puffins) - Robert McCloskey

Genre:  Family / Childhood / Growing Up / Travel

Year Published: 1952

Year Read:  2010

Publisher: The Viking Press



“One Morning in Maine” is a Caldecott Honor Book from the great mind of Robert McCloskey and it is about how a young girl named Sal learns about the wonders of growing up after she loses her first baby tooth. “One Morning in Maine” is a truly inspiring story about growing up that many children will easily love.

Robert McCloskey has done an excellent job at both illustrating and writing this book. Robert McCloskey’s illustrations are much more beautiful in this book than in his other books as the characters look so realistic and Sal’s expressions as she realizes that she has a loose tooth are extremely realistic as she expresses shock and pure excitement, like any child who has a loose tooth and they are sometimes scared because they are worried about the pain if their baby tooth comes loose and the pure excitement they exhibit as they see their baby tooth come out. Robert McCloskey’s illustrations are also in black and white, giving this story an old fashioned feeling while also making this book more effective in displaying the characters’ emotions, as the characters expressions are realistic. Robert McCloskey makes this story extremely cute and inspiring a the same time as Sal tries to figure out the meaning of growing up after she looses her tooth and many children will easily relate to Sal’s emotions about her loose tooth as many children have often lose their baby teeth and they usually have feelings of fear and excitement as they fear that they will feel pain when their baby teeth will fall out and feel excitement as they experienced the joys of growing up.

Parents should know that this book might be a tad bit too long for smaller children to handle as the book is about sixty-pages long and parents might want to read the first thirty pages one night and then the next thirty pages the next night so that children would not be easily bored by this book.

“One Morning in Maine” is a fantastic book about the wonders of growing up and will be an instant classic for many children who also experience the wonders of a loose baby tooth. I would recommend this book to children ages five and up since smaller children might become bored with the length of this book.

Review is also on: Rabbit Ears Book Blog


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review 2016-09-03 01:34
Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold
Tar Beach - Faith Ringgold

Genre: African American / Racism / Family

Year Published: 1991

Year Read:  2010

Publisher: Crown Publishers




I have actually seen this book on an episode of “Reading Rainbow” and I thought that this book was great! “Tar Beach” is a Caldecott Honor Book and Coretta Scott King Honor Book by Faith Ringgold that is about a young girl named Cassie Louise Lightfoot who tells the audience about how she flies in the sky over the city and relates her tale to the audience. “Tar Beach” is certainly a memorable book that children will love to read!

After reading this book, I started taking an interest in the art of creating stories through quilts! Faith Ringgold has done an excellent job at both illustrating and writing this story about the life of an African-American girl during the 1930s. What really made this book stand out was the fact that it was based off of Faith Ringgold's story quilt that details the life of African-American women in America and I really loved the idea about this story coming from a story quilt, which is a quilt that tells the story of a person's life, since it made the story more creative and memorable to read about. Also, this book helped me learn more about black history, especially seeing how African-Americans and Native-Americans were treated during the construction of the Union building during the 1930s and it is interesting to see how far we have came from those times. Faith Ringgold's illustrations are truly creative and gorgeous, especially when she uses watercolor painting to illustrate the characters and the cities. The images that truly stood out for me were the images of Cassie flying over the George Washington Bridge and her apartment where her family lives on as it is simply breathtaking. I also loved the way that Faith Ringgold pasted pieces of her quilt on the bottom of the pages since it brings true creativity to the story and made the story even more heartwarming to read.


The only reason why I gave this book a four star rating is because even though I gave this book so much praise, the story seems to go through the events a bit too fast and there does not seem to be enough information about the characters themselves and the events that surrounded them, especially regarding the Union building since I wanted to learn more about the situation at the Union building during the 1930s.

Overall, “Tar Beach” is a great book for children who want to see stories through the eyes of a quilt and learn more about black history. I would recommend this book to children ages four and up since the format is easy for younger children to understand.

Review is also on: Rabbit Ears Book Blog


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