Monday, February 27, 2017

Stanley's Store - a review

I first met Stanley at the farm in 2015.  It was love at first sight. Peachtree Publishers calls him "the hardest working hamster in the book business." Today I'm pleased to participate in a blog tour for Stanley's latest gig as a storekeeper.


Stanley's Store
by William Bee
Peachtree, 2017

With simple text,
It's going to be another busy day at Stanley's Store,
and vivid colors outlined in black against a white background,


Stanley's Store is perfect for very young listeners—but there is much more to like.  There are myriad opportunities to explore shapes, colors, numbers, and food groups while sharing this and other Stanley books. There is also some light humor, as when silly Charlie spills Stanley's fruit display and ends up with a banana on his head.  Stanley's Store spans the course of a day, so the concept of time is included as well.  The day begins with the delivery of produce to the store, proceeds to shopping, and ends with supper, bath, and bed - a recurring theme in the series.  A sturdy cover and substantial pages complete the cheery story. 😊
 
View an excerpt from Stanley's Store here.

Previous Shelf-employed reviews of Stanley books:



Bee, William. 2015. Stanley the Farmer. New York: Peachtree.
Stanley is a hardworking hamster. Illustrations and text  are bright and simple, making Stanley a perfect choice for very young listeners. Along the lines of Maisy, but with a crisper, cleaner interface.  Nice size, sturdy construction.

When I next encountered him, he was offering a small and sturdy look at colors and shapes.

Stanley's Shapes by William Bee
Peachtree Publishers, 2016

William Bee's illustrations are crisp, bright and simple. In Shapes, he ensures that the featured shape on each double-spread page is easy for children to discern, outlined heavily in black.   There are 8 shapes in all, and each one is something that should be easily recognizable for a child.  A tent is a triangle, a window is a square, bike wheels are circles, a kite is a diamond, etc. Text is minimal for each shape,
Wheeeeeeee! Circles make the best wheels!
Preceding the simple, black text is a white outline of the featured shape.  The final spread is an illustration that contains all of the shapes,
What a lot of shapes! How many can you see?
Stanley's Shapes is exactly what a concept board book should be.


Stanley's Colors by William Bee
Peachtree Publishers, 2016

Like Stanley's Shapes, Stanley's Colors is a perfectly simple, child-sized, concept board book.  There are eight featured colors on double-spread pages.  The background is white, except for a colored banner on the bottom.  The colored banner contains the simple black text,
Choo Choo!  Here is Stanley driving his purple train.
and matches the color in the illustration.  Almost everything in the image is purple with the exception of Stanley, and a few small accents.  Black outlining ensures clarity.

If you're looking for a color concept book for very young kids, this is a great choice.

Note:
My copy of Stanley's Store was provided by the publisher at my request.

Friday, February 17, 2017

The Astronaut Instruction Manual - an audiobook review

The Astronaut Instruction Manual: Practical Skills for Future Space Explorers
by Mike Mongo, read by Mike Mongo with foreword by Alyssa Carson
Listening Library, 2017
47 minutes

If you'd read my blog for any length of time, you will know that I'm an avid fan of several things - two of them are nonfiction and outer space.  I was happy for the opportunity to review the audiobook version of The Astronaut Instruction Manual.

Mike Mongo narrates his own book with an infectious enthusiasm for his topic guaranteed to draw you in to this practical and inspirational look at the future of space travel.

The Astronaut Instruction Manual began as a book on Inkshares, basically a "Kickstarter" for self-published books.  Largely do to its author's subject knowledge and enthusiasm, it became a popular seller, hence the recent release of the audiobook version.  According to the Hollywood Reporter, there is also a television series in the works.

My complete review of The Astronaut Instruction Manual may be found in AudioFile Magazine, in print and online at this link [http://www.audiofilemagazine.com/reviews/read/121233/the-astronaut-instruction-manual-by-mike-mongo/].


Friday, February 10, 2017

Scratch Coding Cards - a review

Scratch Coding Cards
No Starch Press
Creative Coding Activities for Kids by Natalie Rusk
 December 2016, 75 cards ISBN: 978-1-59327-774-1 Full Color, Box Set

No Starch Press was kind enough to provide me a review copy of their new Scratch Coding Cards.  The set of 75 cards contains instructions for a variety of projects including games, stories, and the creation of virtual pets.  Each card shows the desired project on the front and simple instructions on the back.  They are large and sturdy and would be perfect for classroom use.  While the cards can be used as definitive instructions for particular projects, their true purpose is to be inspirational and instructive for the creation of personalized projects.  Scratch teaches kids (and adults) to think logically and act creatively.  With time and practice, you can create almost anything with Scratch.  It's a great precursor to other coding languages.

To illustrate, I used the basic instructions on the cards to create a small sampling of things that can be designed with Scratch.  To begin, click the green flag below. (Turn on your sound) If the project does not appear in your browser, you can use this link:
[https://scratch.mit.edu/projects/142996255/]