Monday, March 25, 2013

Stubborn as a Mule

Stubborn as a Mule and Other Silly Similes (Ways to Say It)is the best simile picture book I have reviewed yet. First it uses common similes that children may have heard or will likely encounter. Second, the book is written as a story, but the author uses a style that takes time out to explain the similes in the book while continuing with the story. She explains how similes are used, the different types of ways to use them, and the origins of some of the more common similes. Having a story may make it a book that children return to after the initial reading.

This would be top on my list if I were putting together a book box of picture books covering similes and metaphors. With all the picture books out there covering the topic, I think children, parents and teachers have some wonderful resources for understanding what used to be a pretty dry textbook lesson.

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Dove Dove Funny Homograph Riddles

If you are looking for a fun way to get students or your children to explore homographsThe Dove Dove: Funny Homograph Riddlesprovides an entertaining but educational look at homographs.

The books uses a riddle format to engage children in learning, but the riddles are challenging and clearly illustrate how homographs work. The author begins by defining homographs and explaining the format of the riddles to help draw children into the challenge. Unlike most of the other picture books I have reviewed this one is geared more for children who can read. While non-readers might get some benefit from reading along with a parent, children who can read and discuss this with a parent or teacher will get more from the experience.

The author begins with one and two syllable words focusing on vowel sounds. At the end of each of the sections he provides a pronounciation guide that explains how the riddles work. Chapter two focuses on the changing sound of s and how that creates homographs. Chapter 3 explains how where the accent is placed on syllables in words can also create homographs. Chapter 4 discusses how extra syllables that are added when word are pronounced create homographs. Chapter 5 gives to bonus challenging riddles that don't fit the previous rules. The end of the book provides a complete list of all the homographs used in the book

While done in the fun format of riddles, this is one of the most detailed lessons in homographs I have seen. I think it would be a great addition to an elementary lesson on the topic.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Skin Like Milk Hair of Silk

In Skin Like Milk, Hair of Silk: What Are Similes and Metaphors? (Words Are Categorical)Brian Cleary continues his Words are CaTegorical series with a study of similes and metaphors.

I have been a fan of Cleary's for a while because he provides parents and teachers with accessible picture book resources to teach, introduce, reinstruct, and entertain children regarding a range of English language topics.

I thought the introduction where Cleary explains the difference between similes and metaphors was strong. I think children will be drawn to the cartoon illustrations throughout the book. I thought the similes were better chosen than the metaphors. I do think many authors choosing to create these books would benefit from picking some similes and metaphors that most children would know and then broadening the choices to introduce new ones.

I was less impressed with the metaphors chosen for this book. I think children would understand the construction of similes from the examples chosen, I think the metaphor examples were less clear. I would have started with more obvious and familiar choices and then moved to more obscure choices.

I continue to be impressed by the move to publish picture books on English Language topics. Parents and teachers have a wide range of choices to use with children of all ages.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Detective Blue

In Detective Bluewe discover Little Boy Blue has left the farm to become a detective. Using a comic strip format, Steve Metzger tells of Blue's latest case, finding Miss Muffet. As he explores the mystery, we encounter his first case in the story, the Dish and the Spoon, which he "cleans up" prior to taking on the missing Miss Muffet. He also meets Mary's Lamb and his encounter there is a different take on the lamb's attempt to get into school. Jack Spratt lets Blue know about the missing Miss Muffet and he is on the case. He encounters Bo Peep and Humpty during his inquiry. The Three Blind Mice are little help and Jack Horner sends him to Old King Cole's Castle. Miss Muffet's nursery rhyme provides him with a fairy tale clue and an unexpected twist to the story at the end.

This is a great way to generate interest in reading nursery rhymes to understand the jokes in the book or as a way to review nursery rhymes for children already familiar with the characters. Children will find the dual nursery rhyme/fairy tale identity twist interesting.

I am hoping this is not Detective Blue's only case. I would love to see a series of nursery rhyme mysteries developed around this character.