I Am Courage: A Book of Resilience by Susan Verde and Peter H. Reynolds

I Am Courage: A Book of Resilience

Susan Verde, Author

Peter H. Reynolds, Illustrator

Abrams Books for Young Readers, Fiction, Sep. 7 2021

Suitable for ages: 4-8

Themes: Courage, Challenges, Resilience

Opening: “When there are challenges in front of me, when I feel unstable, like I might fall…and I think about turning back or giving up.”

Book Jacket Synopsis:

When we picture someone brave we might think they’re fearless, but real courage comes from feelings scared and facing what challenges us anyway. When our minds tell us “I can’t,” we can look inside ourselves and find the strength to say “Yes, I CAN!”

From the New York Times bestselling team behind the I Am Series comes a triumphant celebration of everyday courage: Believing in ourselves, speaking out, trying new things, asking for help, and getting back up no matter how many times we may fall.

Grounded in mindfulness and awareness, I Am Courage is an empowering reminder that we can conquer anything.

Why I love I Am Courage:

Susan Verde’s beautiful prose and timely message is empowering for young children who may be a little anxious about trying something new, but bravely push through their fear and try anyway. In doing so, they build courage and resilience. Readers will see themselves in the main character, who rides his bike through a scary forest, crosses a bridge and takes a few tumbles along the way.  He gets up and faces his challenges, even more determined to succeed. He’s not afraid to ask for support and he’s there to help and encourage others. 

Reynolds’s engaging illustrations are rendered in ink and watercolor and set the mood for the  story. I have really enjoyed their collaborative I Am Series. The series really helps children discover and use the important tools within themselves that will last a lifetime. Follow Verde  and Reynolds  online at their websites.

Resources:  Make sure you check out the Author’s Note and extensive backmatter, which includes special yoga poses and breathing and mindfulness techniques to help readers feel confident.  

Susan Verde is the bestselling author of I Am Yoga, I Am Peace, I Am Human, I Am Love, I Am One, and The Museum, all illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds, as well as Rock ‘n’ Roll Soul, illustrated by Matthew Cordell. She teaches yoga and mindfulness to children and lives with her three children in East Hampton, New York.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

*Reviewed from a library copy.

 

Love You by Heart by Peter H. Reynolds

Love You by Heart 

Peter H. Reynolds, Author and Illustrator

Orchard Books, Fiction, Jan. 4, 2022

Suitable for ages: 3-5

Themes: Unconditional love, Children, Family, Friendship 

Opening: “I loved you by heart / even before I met you. / I loved you always. / I’ve always loved you.”

Publisher’s Synopsis:

I love every smile, every blink,

I love you by heart.

I love your toes, your head, your nose,

I love you by heart.

Celebrated, bestselling creator Peter H. Reynolds brings to life this ode to unconditional love with a delightful and poetic tribute to the rare and beautiful love that binds us together. From the intimate and unbridled love parents and caregivers have for their little ones, to the tremendous love of a lifelong friendship, and the boundless love of a grandparent — this is a heartfelt message to share with the people we cherish; like a song we have known all our lives, we love them by heart.

Peter H. Reynold’s whimsical and charming art conveys this deep expression of love with humor, tenderness, and heart. Love You by Heart is the perfect gift for Valentine’s Day and any day of the year and will become a bookshelf staple. Just right for new and expectant parents, baby showers, birthdays, graduations, and anytime you want to share a most heartfelt message of L-O-V-E!

Why I like Love You by Heart

Reynolds’s sweet book embraces the unconditional love of people we cherish in our lives. It celebrates the love new parents have for their little ones. “I love your good days…your blue days…your funny days…your grumpy days. Unconditional love is just that — a gift of the heart with no expectations.

Written in verse using simple phrases, the book is a perfect read aloud for young children before bedtime and will reassure them how much they are loved. Such a sweet way to put your child to bed. Reynolds’s beautiful and simple illustrations of hearts are ideal for very young children to grasp, without overwhelming them. This is a perfect gift book, which I sent to my two-year-old great granddaughter just before Valentines Day.

Peter H. Reynolds is the author and illustrator of many books for children, parents, and educators alike, including The Dot, Ish, the New York Times bestseller The Word Collector, The Peace Train and Our Table. He lives in Dedham, Massachusetts, where he owns a bookshop, the Blue Bunny. Learn more about Reynolds at his website.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.
 
*Reviewed from a purchased copy.

 

 

 

 

Our Table by Peter H. Reynolds

Our Table

Peter H. Reynolds, Author and Illustrator

Orchard Books, Fiction, Nov. 2, 2021

Suitable for ages: 4-8

Themes: Table, Memories, Family, Togetherness, Technical devices, Creativity, Fable 

Opening: “Violet fondly remember the table.”

Synopsis:

Violet reminisces about the many meals that she shares around the table with her family. She remembers the time they spend setting the table, preparing meals and sharing their days. Gathering with her family was a joyful part of Violet’s day.

Things begin to change and her father is planted in an over-sized chair in front of his big screen. Her mother sits on the stairway texting friends. And her brother is in his room playing games with friends. Her family is not communicating with each other. Violet is lonely as she sits at the table by herself. 

One day Violet notices that the table looks smaller. Everyday she checks the table and it continues to shrink and NO ONE in her family seems to notices because they are involved with their technical devices. Then one day “poof” the table is gone. Violet is courageous and comes up with a creative plan (a big idea) to help her family connect with one another again. She begins by climbing onto her father’s lap and asks if they can watch a special program together… (No Spoilers beyond this point.)

Why I love this book:

Our Table is a modern fable that is timeless for children and adults. It is a heartfelt, uplifting and important message for all families to balance their time connecting with each other and setting limits on their use of technical devices.  

Reynolds is a master at using spare text with his emotive illustrations that really show the story. At the beginning of the story when Violet remembers her good memories of family gatherings around the table, the illustrations are full color. When her family begins to drift, the watercolor illustrations are painted in shades or purple, showing the depth of Violet’s despair. But, Reynolds writes hopeful stories, so the illustrations return to joyous color at the end.  Our Table is an important story about human connections. With the holidays quickly approaching it offers an opportunity to be grateful. I love the quote on the back cover of the book: Remember the gift of time shared together.

Resources: Talk about fun memories you share at your table. I remember that the table in my home was the center for all family meals and talking about our day. There was always after-school treats waiting on the table. We did homework, played board and card games, did artwork projects, made homemade pinatas, gingerbread houses, baked Christmas cookies, and made gratitude trees. What are some of the memories you have about your table? 

Peter H. Reynolds is the author and illustrator of many books for children, parents, and educators alike, including The Dot, Ish, the New York Times bestseller The Word Collector and The Peace Train. He lives in Dedham, Massachusetts, where he owns a bookshop, the Blue Bunny. Learn more about Reynolds at his website.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.
 
*Reviewed from a purchased copy.

Peace Train by Cat Stevens and Peter H. Reynolds

Peace Train

Cat Stevens, Author

Peter H. Reynolds, Illustrator

Harper Collins, Fiction, May 11, 2021

Suitable for ages: 4-8

Themes: Train, Peace, Harmony, Lyrics, Cat Stevens

Opening “Now, I’ve been happy lately, / thinking about the good things to come, / and I believe it could be / something good has begun.”

Book Jacket Synopsis:

Everyone jump up on the Peace Train!

Join friends from around the world as they board a train heading straight for peace.

Featuring the inspiring lyrics of Cat Steven’s beloved anthem and New York Times bestselling illustrator Peter H. Reynolds’s heartwarming interpretation, this moving and joyous book invites us all to sing out for peace.

Fans old and new can now enjoy, share, sing and read aloud the lyrics to “Peace Train’ in picture book format for the first time.

What’s to love about this book:

This inspirational collaboration between Cat Stevens and Peter H. Reynolds will introduce new generations to the song writer’s lyrics. It is so uplifting that it will encourage children to want to join the cause of cultivating peace in the world.

Reynolds’s vibrant illustrations show a boy with guitar in hand on his way to board the Peace Train, which is packed with a diverse group of children singing, playing musical instruments, and swaying to the music. “Now, I’ve been crying lately, thinking about the world as it is. / Why must we go on hating? / Why can’t we live in bliss?” 

Timely topic and a perfect moment in our history to talk about peace, love, kindness, cooperation and compassion. When the lyrics were written and performed by Stevens in the 1970s, we were focused on the importance of our global family. Today it is crucial to teach our children and grandchildren that peace begins in our relationships with ourselves, families, communities, nation and world. This is a perfect book for teachers to use in classrooms and for reading and discussing at home. 

Make sure you read Cat Steven’s “Author’s Note” at the end. Inspiring!

Resources:  Introduce your children to the song before you read the book. Sing it loudly. It has such a fun beat that kids will love singing it repeatedly. Encourage them to draw their own peace train or a picture of what peace means to them. Get children involved in solving local hunger and clothing issues. Visit Steven’s charitable website for ways to help.

Cat Stevens is one of the most influential Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Songwriters Hall of Fame and Grammy-nominated singer-songwriters of all time. He is known worldwide for his hits “Peace Train,” “If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out,” “Wild World,” “Father and Son,” “The First Cut, is the Deepest,” and many more. He is a recipient of the World Social Award and the Man of Peace award. In 2020, he launched the Peacetrain initiative, which delivers relief, medical aid and education globally.

Peter H. Reynolds is the author and illustrator of many books for children, parents, and educators alike, including The Dot, Ish, and the New York Times bestseller The Word Collector. He lives in Dedham, Massachusetts, where he owns a bookshop, the Blue Bunny. Learn more about Reynolds at his website.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.
 
*Reviewed from a library book.

 

I Am One by Susan Verde

I Am One

Susan Verde, Author

Peter H. Reynolds, Illustrator

Abrams, Fiction, Sep. 15, 2020

Suitable for ages: 4-8

Themes: Making a difference, Change, Purpose, Mindfulness

Opening: “How do I make a difference? It seems like a tall order for one so small. But beautiful things start with just One.”

Book Jacket Synopsis:

One seed to start a garden, one note to start a melody, one brick to start breaking down walls: Every movement and moment of change starts with purpose, with intention, with one. With me. With you.

From the #1 New York Times bestselling team behind I Am Yoga, I Am PeaceI Am Human, and I Am Love comes a powerful call to action, encouraging each reader to raise their voice, extend a hand, and take that one first step to start something beautiful and move toward a better world.

Why I like this book:

Susan Verde and Peter H. Reynolds have collaborated on one of my favorite book themes for young readers: children making a difference in their schools, communities and world. But HOW do kids begin? With One step to start a journey…to break down walls…to to start a friendship…to take action…to build a brick pathway that will make a difference and lead to change. Just one small act of kindness can move mountains for someone. Verde’s straightforward prose is a call to action and kids will really “GET” the message in this book. I Am One is timely book for the important times we live in. Teachers will welcome this treasure in their classrooms because it will lead to many positive discussions and opportunities to create change.

Reynolds’s signature illustrations are lively, playful and joyful in this special call to youth activists. He dedicated I Am One to Greta Thunberg, who showed the world the power of ONE young person. Follow Verde  and Reynolds  online at their websites.

Resources:  There is an Author’s Note in the back of the book. Verde includes a mindfulness meditation and self-reflection activity to help readers get started,  She says that when “we feel something isn’t okay in our world, we need to be present and access the problem-solving, creative, compassionate parts of our brains.”  It helps us to respond with kindness, rather than react with anger. Then ask yourself questions about what you may feel needs changing.  What will be your first step?

Susan Verde is the bestselling author of I Am Yoga, I Am Peace, I Am Human, I Am Love, and The Museum, all illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds, as well as Rock ‘n’ Roll Soul, illustrated by Matthew Cordell. She teaches yoga and mindfulness to children and lives with her three children in East Hampton, New York.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

*Reviewed from a library copy.

Celebrate International Dot Day Sep. 15, 2020

Virtual Dot Day Celebration on Facebook with Peter H. Reynolds

Tuesday, Sep. 15, 2020 at 1 p.m. EDT

International Dot Day is upon us and 19,072,152 students from 188 countries have begun celebrating by making their dots.  I have personally watched this phenomenon grow year after year and it couldn’t be more timely and relevant to see children connecting, creating and caring about each other globally. The world needs Dot Day!

It all began with a book. The Dot. Written by Peter H. Reynolds in 2003. Iowa teacher Terry (T.J.) Shay, who held the very first Dot Day celebration in 2009, has been the motivational force behind this extraordinary annual event.

And a girl named Vashti, who claimed she couldn’t draw. Her teacher believed in Vashti and asked her to make a dot. She stabbed her dot on a piece of paper and handed it to her teacher. Her teacher asked her to sign it. A few days later, Vashti saw her “dot” framed and hanging at the front of the class.

Seventeen years later, Vashti’s act of courage continues to inspire children worldwide. Around September 15ish, over 19 million children will celebrate creativity, courage and collaboration as they participate in International Dot Day.

Each year teachers and students continue to take International Dot Day to a new level, using many ways to connect and partner with teachers and students in all 50 states and 186 countries. This is truly a global event where children are connecting the dots with each other around the world.

It’s not to late to sign up for International Dot Day. Register at www.TheDotClub.org to be part of this year’s tally, and get free downloadable #DotDay guide, certificate & multi-language posters.  Just beneath the picture of the world, you can click on language and 110 different languages will appear so may participate in your own language.  You will also find all the information and resources you will need to get started, inspired and connected. Teachers, make sure you check out the special section Skype in the Classroom to learn how to connect with students from other schools.

Follow International Dot Day on:
Facebook: Share on the Dot Day Facebook page (facebook.com/InternationalDotDay)
Twitter: Connect on Twitter using (twitter.com/DotClubConnect)
Use the hashtags: #DotDay and #Makeyourmark

I Am Love: A Book of Compassion by Susan Verde

I Am Love: A Book of Compassion

Susan Verde, Author

Peter H. Reynolds, Illustrator

Abrams Books for Young Readers, Fiction, Sep. 17, 2019

Suitable for Ages: 3-7

Themes: Love, Compassion, Empathy, Gratitude, Kindness, Mindfulness

Opening: I put my hands on my heart and listen. And that is where I find the answer: I have compassion. I act with tenderness. I am love.

Book Synopsis:

Love means showing kindness, living with gratitude, and taking care of our minds and bodies. Letting our hearts lead the way can help move us closer to a better world.

Grounded in mindfulness and wellness, I Am Love asks readers to look inward when they feel afraid, angry, hurt, or sad. When a storm is brewing inside us and the skies grow dark, the transformative power of love lets the light back in.

Why I like this book:

Susan Verde and Peter H. Reynolds uplifting book will leave a smile in your heart. It celebrates love in all its forms and encourages readers to develop empathy and compassion towards others. Love is ever present when you help an older neighbor, listen with understanding, give a hug, face a fear and take care of yourself. The message is sincere and heartwarming.

Reynolds’ colorful illustrations have his trademark whimsical appeal and will resonate with children. They are expressive watercolors and contribute to the books celebratory mood. I love the yoga poses that emphasize self-care and wholeness throughout the story.

I Am Love, is the fourth book in the I Am Books, from this bestselling  team that created I Am Yoga, I Am Peace and I Am Human.

Resources: There is an Author’s Note and a page of Heart-Opening Yoga poses that will help children learn to “lead with our hearts by opening and expanding the front of the body.” These activities can be done at home or in school.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

*Reviewed from a library copy.

17 Million Kids Celebrate International Dot Day Globally

Nearly 17 million students from 182 countries have begun celebrating International Dot Day. I have personally watched this phenomenon grow year after year and it couldn’t be more timely and relevant to see children connecting with each other globally.

It all began with a book. The Dot. Written by Peter H. Reynolds in 2003. Iowa teacher Terry (T.J.) Shay, who held the very first Dot Day celebration in 2009, has been the motivational force behind this extraordinary annual event.

And a girl named Vashti, who claimed she couldn’t draw. Her teacher believed in Vashti and asked her to make a dot. She stabbed her dot on a piece of paper and handed it to her teacher. Her teacher asked her to sign it. A few days later, Vashti saw her “dot” framed and hanging at the front of the class.

Sixteen years later, Vashti’s act of courage continues to inspire children worldwide. Around September 15ish, nearly 17 million children will celebrate creativity, courage and collaboration as they participate in International Dot Day.

Each year teachers and students continue to take International Dot Day to a new level, using many ways to connect and partner with teachers and students in all 50 states and 182 countries. This is truly a global event where children are connecting the dots with each other around the world.

It’s not to late to sign up for International Dot Day. If you are a teacher, homeschooler or parent who wants to get involved in this powerful event, there is still time to enroll your students and children. It will continue next week and beyond. Visit the International Dot Day site for all the information and resources you will need to get started, inspired and connected. Teachers, make sure you check out the special section Skype in the Classroom to learn how to connect with students from other schools.

Follow International Dot Day on:
Facebook: Share on the Dot Day Facebook page (facebook.com/InternationalDotDay)
Twitter: Connect on Twitter using (twitter.com/DotClubConnect)
Use the hashtags: #DotDay and #Makeyourmark

Say Something! by Peter H. Reynolds

Say Something!

Peter H. Reynolds, Author & Illustrator

Orchard Books/Imprint of Scholastic Inc. , Fiction, Feb. 26, 2019

Suitable for Ages: 4-8

Themes: Using your voice, Making a difference, Diversity

Opening: The world needs your voice. 

Book Synopsis: The world needs your voice. Say something, with your words, with your music, with your poetry, with your courage and with your presence. It doesn’t need to be perfect as long as it’s from your heart. If you see someone lonely or being hurt, say something. If you have a great idea, share it with others.

Why I love this book:

Peter H. Reynolds’ newest gem, Say Something, is an inspiring, powerful and thought-provoking story that encourages children to use their voices to make a difference in their communities and world. Say Something pairs beautifully with Reynolds’ books Happy Dreamer and The Word Collector. Written for young readers, children have the power to make a difference through their thoughts, voices and actions. Reynolds’ text is lyrical and spare. His expressive illustrations feature diverse characters and will help kids see themselves. They will enjoy pouring over the detail and a fun word bubbles. Check out the endpapers.

This is my favorite kind of picture book because it introduces children to activism. Children naturally want to be involved and do things that help others or a greater cause. Say Something encourages children to be kind, creative, imaginative, bold, brave and step outside of their comfort zone to make their world a better place. This is an excellent classroom read-aloud and discussion book.

Resources: After reading the book, explore with children the many ways the characters say something. There is a detailed Teacher’s Guide that is packed with ideas about using all three books in the classroom. It will easily support school curriculums and encourage kids to find and use their voices in many unique ways. Visit

Peter Hamilton Reynolds is a New York Times bestselling author and illustrator of many books for children, including The Dot, Ish, Playing from the Heart, Happy Dreamer and The Word Collector. His books have been translated into over twenty-five languages around the globe and are celebrated worldwide. In 1996, he founded FableVision with his brother, Paul, as a social change agency to help create “stories that matter, stories that move.” He lives in Dedham, Massachusetts, with his family. Visit Reynolds at his website.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

Follow Me Down to Nicodemus Town by A. LaFaye

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Follow Me Down to Nicodemus Town

A. LaFaye, Author

Nicole Tadgell, Illustrator

Albert Whitman & Company, Historical fiction, Jan. 1, 2019

Suitable for Ages: 5-8

Themes: African-American, Pioneer Settlement, Native Americans, Community, Kansas

Opening: The whoo-eeeh-follow-me holler of the six o-clock train rumbled right into Dede’s dreams. She rode across a prairie so wide even the angels couldn’t see the end of it. Her family had a plan. They would own a place in that open land.

Synopsis:

The Pattons want to leave sharecropping behind and have a farm of their very own. Mama sews dresses and Papa builds furniture to make extra money at night, and Dede shines shoes at the train station. It will take years before her family will save enough to pay off their debt and by their own place.

One day Dede sees a notice offering free land for colored folks in Nicodemus, Kansas. The Pattons pack their bags and board a train. It’s time for them to claim and stake out a homestead near the brand-new town of Nicodemus. They build a sod home along the bank of the Solomon River before winter. Papa stakes out the boundaries of their claim.  Before they can plow and plant their fields, they must face their first winter on the prairie. While they hunt for food, they meet Shanka Sabe, a member of the Native American Osage Nation, who shares his food with them. Will the Pattons  find a better future for themselves?

Why I like this book:

The cover is gorgeous, as are the expressive and detailed watercolor illustrations by Nicole Tadgell. They compliment A. LaFaye’s uplifting and poetic narrative about these African-American pioneers traveling west — building sod homes, hunting food, surviving harsh winters, plowing the spring fields, building fences, planting crops, meeting new neighbors and watching a town come to life.

Follow Me Down to Nicodemus Town, is a perfect classroom share for Black History month. It is a wonderful peek into a period of history that few know about. Nicodemus was founded in the late 1870s by Exodusters — former slaves and sharecroppers, like Dede’s family, who flocked to the Kansas prairie to stake out land, build a homestead and farm. I love that it is shared in a children’s picture book.

Resources: Make sure you check out the historical information About the Exodusters in the back of the book. There is another important piece of history that is briefly touched on in the book — the Native Americans who were forced to sell their lands in the Great Plains and move to Oklahoma. Check out this website, to learn more about Nicodemus and the amazing people who settled there. Each year the current residents, the families of former resident, and the descendants of the original settlers celebrate the Nicodemus Emancipation and Homecoming during the third week in July.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

*Review copy provided by publisher.