Picture Book Review: The Frank Show

David Mackintosh, author & illustrator. (2012). The Frank Show. New York, New York: Abrams Books for Young Readers.  Age range: 5-7.

My volunteer time among the local library stacks has led me to a new picture book gem, The Frank Show by David Mackintosh.  A little boy is trying to hard find a family member to bring to show and tell.  Mom and Dad are busy.  The only person left is Grandpa Frank.  Frank is boring, and complains about everything.  The other kids in class have family members who do cool stuff like speak Italian or work at the potato chip factory.  Frank surprises everyone, including his grandson, by regaling them all with tales of battlefield heroics from his youth.

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Picture book review: A Home for Bird

Philip Stead, author & illustrator. (2012). A Home for Bird. New York, New York: Roaring Brook Press.

Can Vernon the frog help the silent Bird find its way home? Follow Vernon as he helps his lost friend.

A Home for Bird was published in April 2012, and is still in print. The book’s list price is $16.99 in the US, and $18.99 in Canada. Amazon has the price at $11.55 for brand new copies. The cover price of $16.99 to $18.99 is rather prohibitive for many books, especially children’s books. Amazon’s price is more reasonable, but then one would need to pay for shipping and wait for the book to arrive in the mail. The cheapest and easiest way to access the book is to go to the library. (Could I be biased in this regard?  Yes, likely.) Philip Stead won the 2011 Caldecott medal for A Sick Day for Amos McGee, as such his work is likely to be included in children’s library collections.

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Important tips for encouraging literacy in children.

“Studies have shown that it’s ‘print knowledge,’ and not just general experience with books, that advances children’s reading ability.

‘Print knowledge’ is an awareness of the mechanics of the reading process, like the fact that English is read from left to right and that written words map on to spoken ones…  Ohio State professor Shayne Piasta and her coauthors report that when preschool teachers drew students’ attention to print while reading to them, the children’s skills in reading, spelling and comprehension improved. These positive results were long-lasting, too, still showing up a full two years later.”

How do you encourage print knowledge?  For example:

“Ask, ‘Where should I begin reading on this page?’, and ‘Do you know this word?’ Say, ‘I spot three capital letters on this page—see if you can find them,’ or ‘This dot here is a period, and it tells me I’ve reached the end of the sentence.’ Point out, ‘This is the title of the book—it’s on the cover and also on the inside,’ and ‘This is the name of the author—she wrote all the words that you see.'”