Saturday, February 19, 2011

Kid Konnection: President's Day Edition

Every Saturday, I host a feature called Kid Konnection -- a regular weekend feature about anything related to children's books. Today, I'm going to share with you a few books that kind of, sort of fit with the President's Day Holiday (or at least our country's history!)

Summary: They weren't rock stars -- they were patriots! With an inventive story and charming pen-and-ink drawings, the contributor to favorites such as Math Curse and The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales introduces your child to four of the founding fathers as kids. Through tales of their youth, readers learn about the heroes' future endeavors. A true-or-false quiz at the end ensures that readers know the true facts behind Smith's imaginative rendering. -- Scholastic

I've been a big fan of Lane Smith's picture books for quite awhile now -- especially the recent  IT'S A BOOK (my review.) So when I was working the annual Scholastic Book Fair at our elementary school, I was thrilled to discover JOHN, PAUL, GEORGE & BEN. This book is adorable, educational, and could very well be one of my all-time favorite picture books. Don't you just love how the cover resembles another "Fab Four?"

JOHN, PAUL, GEORGE & BEN is a fun way to introduce some our country's forefathers to young kids. The book tells the stories of John Hancock, Paul Revere, George Washington, and Ben Franklin... and Thomas Jefferson (he's the fifth, but he's "always off doing his own thing.") There are a few pages devoted to each famous man, and children get an insight into some of their greatest achievements. At the end of the book, there are slightly more "serious" summaries of their accomplishments as well as a cute True/False quiz.

JOHN, PAUL, GEORGE & BEN is so much fun to read because the tone is very tongue-in-cheek and filled with lots of humor! In addition, the book is filled with adorable illustrations as only Lane Smith can create. There are lots of different fonts and font sizes to make things exciting, and many of the characters have hilarious expressions on their faces.

There are many things that I love about Lane Smith, but one of the best things about his books is the humor. This book made both Booking Son and me laugh out loud in places. I truly love that Mr. Smith realizes that picture books aren't just for little kids. He actually write books that appeal to both youngsters and their parents. I never tire of reading his stories.

This book is a must-read for children...and parents! Don't miss!

Summary: Eleven-year-old Abigail Jane Stewart's fictionalized diary about her life, family, friends, and neighbors, and the sides they have to choose in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, during the height of the Revolutionary War, renders a vivid portrayal of one of the most memorable and crucial winters in American history.

Abby's life with her family is quickly upended when they are awakened by the unfamiliar sound of drums. General George Washington is leading the Continental soldiers into their winter encampment at Valley Forge, PA. 

Hardship is a constant companion for soldiers and citizens alike throughout the winter, and in her diary, Abby pieces together the beauty, pain, and blessings of this long, revolutionary winter. -- Scholastic

I was so excited to discover that the Dear America series is making a comeback. I just love the idea of getting young girls interested in historical fiction during the late elementary and early middle school years. While my daughter has been reading books from this series for a few years now, I just recently started with DEAR AMERICA: THE WINTER OF RED SNOW - THE DIARY OF ABIGAIL JANE STEWART, VALLEY FORGE, PENNSYLVANIA, 1777 by Kristiana Gregory. As a fan of historical fiction, I just loved this book and can't wait to read more from this series!

THE WINTER OF RED SNOW tells the story of Abigail Jane Stewart and how her family becomes involved in the Revolutionary War. When General George Washington, the leader of the Continental Army, camps his soldiers at Valley Forge, right next to the Stewart home, Abigail's family has to decide which side they want to give their loyalty. I felt as if this book did a good job of representing the dilemma that many families faced.

The entire story is written in the form of Abigail's diary, and I think this first person narrative is extremely effective -- especially for young girls. I know, as a child, that I loved to read first person accounts of stories. I think it was made me more deeply involved with the characters' plights. In THE WINTER OF RED SNOW, I felt as if the author effectively captured the essence of Abigail, and I'm pretty sure that young girls will find themselves relating to some of Abigail's thoughts and actions.

In addition to the story, there are also some terrific learning tools at the end of this book. There is a "Historical Note" which gives some facts about the American Revolution and many maps, pictures, clippings from the time period. I can only imagine how much kids (and teachers) are going to like reading the Dear America series to supplement some of the boring old textbook information!

This novel is a fantastic way for girls to learn about the horrific winter at Valley Forge as well as the sacrifices so many Americans made to gain their freedom. I highly recommend this book!

Thanks to the publisher for sending a copy of this novel.

Summary: Introducing the first title in a series of full-color historical graphic novels-each focusing on a key moment in American history, and dropping readers headlong into the conflicts, the characters, and the events' lasting impact on American culture and government.

In Road to Revolution!, Nick and Penny-an orphan and a tavern owner's daughter-find themselves in the thick of the conflict as the colonists prepare to revolt against the British military. -- Bloomsbury

ROAD TO REVOLUTION!: THE CARTOON CHRONICLES OF AMERICA by Stan Mack and Susan Champlin is a great way for middle-schoolers to learn about the history of America's revolution. This book is actually a colorful graphic novel that is very fun to read -- both for kids and adults. Not only is this book educational, but it also has eye-catching illustrations.

I really liked this book and I thought the story was exciting. I'm pretty certain that it will appeal to kids even more than me. The book takes place in Boston right before the war against England and gives readers an inside look into not only some of the actions that brought on the revolt, but also some of our country's major players in our history. The fictional characters of Nick and Penny are great too, and I can definitely see how their smarts and bravery will appeal to kids.

As a mom, I can't rave enough about this book. I think even reluctant readers will be drawn to the graphical novel format as well as the story. I also liked all of the "extras" in the back of the book -- from the chapter-by-chapter breakdown explaining what was fact versus what was fiction to the teacher's guide. There is even an interview with the authors as well as some great discussion questions. I would love to see books like this one being used in the classroom to make learning more fun!

Thanks to the publisher for providing an ARC of this graphic novel. (Note: My ARC was not full-color.)

If you'd like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children's books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, please leave a comment as well as a link below with your name/blog name and the title of the book! Feel free to grab the little button too!


bermudaonion said...

Those all look great, especially John, Paul, George and Ben! What a clever idea! I hope you're feeling better.

Laura at Library of Clean Reads said...

I love reading books to my kids that teach them history. We've read a few lately about Canadian history, but I don't limit it to North America. European history is fascinating too.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

These sound great. I know when I was younger, my favorite way to read bible stories was to read one of those cartoon or "graphic" versions. They make it more fun for kids, I think.

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks said...

Great concept in John, Paul, George and Ben! Another "fab" book from Lane Smith.

Rebecca Rasmussen said...

These all look fabulous! I love your Saturday feature! XO

Meghan said...

I adored the Dear America books when I was younger! They started to come out when I was just the right age for them, and I actually have most of them. I'm delighted to see they're coming back!

Meghan @ Medieval Bookworm