Friday, January 31, 2020

UNDER MY HIJAB: A story about different ways to express yourself by Hena Khan & Aaliya Jaleel

I was really interested to learn about the hijab and all the different ways it can be worn!

Summary from Amazon:

Grandma's hijab clasps under her chin. Auntie pins hers up with a whimsical brooch. Jenna puts a sun hat over hers when she hikes. Iman wears a sports hijab for tae kwon do. As a young girl observes the women in her life and how each covers her hair a different way, she dreams of the possibilities in her own future and how she might express her personality through her hijab.

With cheerful rhyming text by the author of Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns, and charming illustrations from a talented newcomer, Under My Hijab provides a friendly introduction to hijabs for all readers, and celebrates the many Muslim women and girls who choose to wear them.

Under My Hijab was written by Hena Khan and illustrated by Aaliya Jaleel. It was published in 2019 by Lee & Low Books.

Grandma peeks into the oven
as a brown loaf of bread starts to rise.
Her hijab is carefully folded,
like the crusts on my favorite pies.

My Thoughts as a Writer:

One of the things I found intriguing about this text was the structure. Each woman or girl is shown first in one situation wearing a hijab, and then in a situation without it. I haven’t seen many picture books written this way, but I like the way it allows the reader to compare the situations easily. I really enjoyed the way the women are shown with many different roles and interests.

My Thoughts as an Educator:

This is a great book for talking about individual differences and cultural or religious traditions. I loved how each character expressed themselves differently through their clothing.

Ages: 4-9

Grades: K – 3

Themes: individual differences, women, traditional clothing


Dramatic Play: Provide pieces of cloth for children to fold and experiment with wearing.

Draw & Write: Do you have a favourite piece of clothing? Draw a picture of it. What makes it special to you?  (Educators could hang the drawings around the classroom for a “gallery walk” as a basis for more discussion on individual differences.)

STEAM Challenge: Design a piece of clothing that can be worn on the head – a head scarf, hat or hair accessory. What patterns and colours could you include? Draw your design first, and then try to make it using paper, cloth and other materials.

Friday, January 24, 2020

THE MAGIC BOAT: A lovely story about imagination and friendship by Kit Pearson, Katherine Farris & Gabrielle Grimard

Reading this book made me long for the beach! This book has been nominated for the Blue Spruce Award in the Ontario Library Association's Forest of Reading program in 2020. I read a hard copy from my local library.

Summary from the publisher:

Every summer morning, Ellie and her Nonna go to the beach. They swim and build sandcastles, and while Nonna reads, Ellie watches the other children play. One day Ellie builds up the courage to approach an older girl playing on her own in a beached rowboat. Piper has a gift, an imagination so great that she whisks Ellie off on grand adventures, going high in the air, deep below the ocean and everywhere in between in their little blue boat, their magic boat. When Piper has to leave, Ellie discovers she has her own vivid imagination.

The Magic Boat, written by Kit Pearson and Katherine Farris and illustrated by Gabrielle Grimard, was published in 2019 by Orca Book Publishers. 

Every summer morning, Ellie and Nonna went to the beach.

Ellie built castles and decorated them with pebbles.

My Thoughts as a Writer:

What a lovely example of a "quiet" book! This book transported me to the beach with vivid details. The story wonderfully captures the transient connection between two children at the beach—and how different imaginations can lead to different play experiences. The soft pencil and watercolour illustrations are perfect for this sweet story.

My Thoughts as an Educator:

There are many possibilities for discussion with this story. It would be a good one to read before encouraging children to draw and write about their own experiences in writing workshop, for instance, meeting a new friend, going on a vacation, or doing something with a grandparent.   

Ages: 4-8

Grades: K – 2

Themes: friendship, imagination, beach vacations


Discuss: Was the boat magic? Why or why not?

Find and List: Look and listen for all the different birds and animals in the story. Make a list and count how many different animals there were.

Imagine and Write: Provide a “magic boat” (e.g., big box, large plastic tub, large mat) to sit in. As children sit in the “magic boat,” encourage them to imagine a story. On a clipboard, they can draw and write about what they imagine as they spend time in the “magic boat.”

STEM Challenge: Provide boxes, wood, bubble wrap, etc. Prompt: Create your own “magic” boat. Will it float?

Friday, January 10, 2020

TANGLED: A story about shapes by Anne Miranda & Eric Comstock

Happy New Year! I’m starting off Perfect Picture Book Friday this year with a story about shapes. As an educator, I especially liked how this rhyming book includes both 2-D and 3-D shapes.

Summary from Amazon:

When the neighborhood shapes go climbing on the park jungle gym the last thing they expect is a tangle. First the circle, next the triangle and then the square. One by one soon all sixteen shapes are trapped. They push and pull and tumble and cry for help. Who will save them? One special shape can set the others free. Can you guess which one it is? This charming story makes learning the names of sixteen shapes as easy as a day in the park.

Tangled: A Story About Shapes was written by Anne Miranda and illustrated by Eric Comstock. It was published in 2019 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.

One day, a little circle, just as happy as could be,
Got caught inside a jungle gym and couldn’t wiggle free.

My Thoughts as a Writer:

This is a fun rhyming book. I don’t write rhyme, but it’s nice to see how rhymes can be used when telling a complete story with a problem and solution.

The illustrations show flat 2-D shapes as well as shaded sides to show the 3-D shapes. The expressions on the faces of the shapes are great and really help to show their feelings. As some other reviewers have pointed out, it would have been nice if the circle character wasn’t referred to as female and coloured pink with a bow. Questions I had: Why do the shapes need a gender? Why does the girl need to be rescued? 

My Thoughts as an Educator:

This book is a good introduction to shapes. Since it includes both 2-D and 3-D shapes, it’s allows for some interesting discussions about them. I thought that including the jungle gym was clever, since children will relate to similar structures on their playground (and maybe even the experience of momentarily being caught in the structure) and it also reminded me of classroom activities for building shapes using sticks and modeling clay.  There's a great chart on the endpapers that shows many different shapes.

Ages: 4-8

Grades: PreK – 2

Themes: shapes, problem-solving, rhyming


Draw/Count: Provide dice and drawing materials. Roll the dice. Draw one dot on your paper for each number on the die. Switch papers with a friend and join the dots to make a shape. How many sides does the shape have? How many points? Give the shape a face and a personality!

Compare/Contrast: Provide a collection of 2-D and 3-D shapes in a bag. Pull out two different shapes at a time. How are they the same? How are they different?

STEM Challenge: Provide craft sticks and playdough. What shapes can you build? Help your brain grow by trying more than one way to build a shape.

Read and Think: Read the book My Shape is Sam by Amanda Jackson & Lydia Nichols (see my review here). Which book did you like best? Why?