It's never too soon to teach children the importance of good manners.
Say Please by Tony Ross (Kane Miller Book Publishers, ISBN 1-933605-16-2) is the sixth and, in my opinion, the most important book in the Little Princess series. As a book on manners for children ages 3-5, Say Please encourages children to say please and thank-you in everyday situations.
The premise of the story is simple. The Little Princess learns to say please when asking for something and thank-you when something is given. It’s a quick lesson on why we should all learn to use manners, whether we are at home or trekking through the great outdoors. The examples given, such as wanting dinner and a teddy bear, are situations that all parents and children can relate to. The story is also written in simple child-talk, allowing children to identify with the Little Princess so that her lesson on using manners quickly becomes their own lesson.
My favorite aspect of Say Please is that it talks directly at children instead of talking down to children. Say Please does not tell children why using manners is important, it shows why manners are important. As I’ve explained to young parents in the past, there is a difference between telling children what is right and showing children what is right. If I were to tell my child to use her manners, she would not fully understand why manners are so important. However, if I, as her parent, use my manners everyday in front of my child and show her how to properly act, my child will come to understand why she needs to use manners and in what social situations. This is called teaching through example.
Say Please is a charming book and the perfect reinforcement for young children who are just learning to say please and thank-you.
SEBASTIAN’S ROLLER SKATES
Kirkus Reviews (September 15, 2005):
In this story about the power of self-confidence, Sebastian is a reserved boy to the point of stifling shyness. He lives with his thoughts, unable to express himself to others, though full of fascinating ideas. When an abandoned pair of roller skates piques his interest, he tires to learn to skate with a quiet determination. Alas, his fear of falling down and failing prevents him from becoming proficient. An impromptu rescue of a runaway dog proves the impetus he needs to use his new skills on skates – instilling him with confidence and unleashing his self-restraint. Rovira skillfully conveys the changing tenor of Sebastian’s moods in a distinctive manner: The illustrations are primarily full-bleed watercolor and ink; however, he uses his collages to indicate Sebastian’s internal thoughts. At first, the collages consist of monochromatic ripped pieces of paper, full of detail, but in blacks and grays. As Sebastian overcomes his reticence, the collages increase in clarity and vibrancy until tale’s end where they become a torrent of joyful, bright colored images. Sebastian’s triumph provides inspiration for timid readers to seek out their own strengths.
School Library Journal (October 1, 2005):
Sebastian always has a lot to say, but he is too shy to speak up. He won't answer in class, tell the barber that he doesn't like his haircut, or talk to his neighbors. He is especially shy around the curly haired girl he likes at school. Then one day, Sebastian finds an abandoned pair of roller skates and tries them on. At first, he falls down and decides that skating is not for him. However, these mysterious skates won't go away and eventually he is gliding through the park. Soon, with his newfound courage, he is talking in spite of himself-after all, he has always had a lot to say. The cartoon illustrations tell what the text cannot, as a collage of torn-paper "thoughts" spills from Sebastian's head whenever he wants to talk. The collages start out in black and white but as Sebastian grows more confident and begins to share his thoughts aloud, they erupt into full color. Careful observers will notice that details from previous spreads reappear a few pages later in Sebastian's thoughts and that any text in his mind and in the art itself are in Spanish as this book was originally published in Spain. There is much to be savored in this story of self-discovery, and young audiences will find something new with each rereading.
Children’s Bookwatch (October 2005):
Sebastian’s Roller Skates is an award-winning picturebook by Joan de Deu Prats about a very shy young boy who has a lot to say but can’t bring himself to talk much. One day he finds a pair of old roller skates in the park – and as he tries them on and practices, he learns not only how to skate, but also much more! The whimsical color illustrations by Francesc Rovira are the perfect complement to the entertaining story about growth and self-discovery through applying oneself to a new talent. Highly recommended.
Publishers Weekly (December 19, 2005):
Sebastian may have a couple of spills as he learns to roller skate, but this tale from a Spanish team never takes a misstep. The young hero’s shyness stops him from saying all he wants to, and from approaching his schoolmate Ester (she “had curly hair and eyes the color of honey”). A pair of roller skates he finds in a park fascinates him, and as Sebastian masters this new skill, he also finds the courage to say more. Rovira’s confident caricature-style human figures all share the same wide-open eyes and stubby, squared-off noses; by contrast, he distinguishes objects in minute details, with addresses lettered on packing boxes and bulletin boards crowded with drawings and announcements. The artist has great fun rendering the story of Sebastian’s interior life, gluing a dense trail of dreary black-and-white newspaper scraps above Sebastian’s head to signal his trapped thoughts in the opening scenes, then scattering brilliantly colored scraps and photographs as the boy brims with opinions he says aloud: “And this time I don’t want my head to look like a billiard ball!” he tells the barber. He even invites Ester to go skating. Sebastian’s transformation emerges naturally, rather than from methods or techniques. He discovers the skates, practices hard and persistently, and his new abilities unfold on their own. Shy readers may well emerge with the feeing that change is indeed possible.
Booklist (November 1, 2005):
This picture book from Spain features Sebastian, a boy so shy that he can barely whisper a word to his apartment-house neighbors, his barber, or even his teacher. Inside his head, though, he has plenty to say. Finding a pair of roller skates abandoned in the park, he tries skating but goes so slowly that he stumbles from one place to the next. When he catches hold of a runaway dog's leash and takes a wild ride though the park, Sebastian is spurred to overcome his hesitancy in skating and, even better, in speaking to those around him. His happiness shines from his face and from the collage of images that represent his words and thoughts. First in shades of gray and later in brilliant colors, the collage elements imaginatively express what Sebastian is feeling as well as what he is saying. The universality of Sebastian's experience ensures that this pleasing picture book, translated from the original Catalan, will resonate with children on this side of the Atlantic.
Christian Home & School (January/February, 2006):
Sebastian has a lot to say but rarely shares it because he’s so shy. He gives one-word answers to his teacher, barber, and neighbor and doesn’t dare utter a single word to the curly haired schoolgirl who sits in front of him. One day Sebastian finds a pair of roller skates in the park and decides to try skating, but he immediately falls and gives up. However, the skates are still there the next day, so he decides to try again. With a lot of practice, Sebastian gradually gets his balance, and one day he grabs the leash of a runaway dog, who takes him gilding through the park. Sebastian’s newfound courage spread so other areas of his life; now when he ahs a lot to say, he says it. Sebastian’s thoughts spill out with the help of cartoon-type characters and torn-paper collages. As his courage grows, so do the illustrated thoughts – going from drab to full color.
Curled Up Kids.com (August 2006):
Sebastian is a shy, shy boy, but when he finds a pair of roller skates on a park bench, everything changes. At first, he is quiet and rarely makes eye contact with anyone. Even when he knows the answers to questions at school, he says nothing. But one fateful day, he slips on some skates and soon he is expressing himself more and more, even with total strangers.
This award-winning book is all about coming out of your shell, even if it takes some wobbly roller skates to help you along, and author Joan de Deu Prats, who has over 45 children’s books to her credit, sneaks a strong theme of standing up for yourself and being who you are into her delightful story of a little boy we can all relate to. The wonderful illustrations by Spanish artist Francesc Rovina combine colorful line drawings with real images that create a very unique visual backdrop for the story.
Sebastian’s Roller Skates is a book that will especially resonate with kids who may be on the shy side, encouraging them to realize that they are worthy of speaking up and strutting their stuff, even if it takes them a while to get their balance.
BIG A little a (September 23, 2005):
Sebastian's Roller Skates is a charming tale about a shy little boy who wants to be able to talk, but freezes up when spoken to. One day he finds a pair of roller skates on a park bench. He tries to skate and falls. He swears never to skate again.
But the skates are still on the park bench the next day and Sebastian decides to try again. Slowly, slowly he improves taking tiny, tiny strokes. One afternoon a dog escapes and runs up to Sebastian and begins licking his face. Sebastian grabs onto the dog's leash to steady himself and the dog takes off. Sebastian's ride through the park exhilarates him. He can skate! And fast. After his wild ride, Sebastian can do anything. He tells the barber, "I know the names of all the most important deserts in the world and where they are: the Sahara in Africa, the Gobi in Asia, and the Atacama in South Africa. And this time I don't want my head to look like a billiard ball."
Joan de Déu Prats' text is very sweet and tells a tale all the shy kids in the world (myself included) can appreciate. Francesc Rovira's illustrations are beautiful and each page incorporates a slowly changing collage on its edge. The collages are dark and newpapery at the beginning and close the book in tissue-papery brilliance. From Kane/Miller books, who specializes in translating and publishing foreign books for U.S. children.
*Publishers Weekly (Monday, August 11, 2003):
Bauer's hand-size volume delivers big things in a small package. Her pen-and-ink and watercolor wash images framed on creamy pages with generous borders make the perfect accompaniment for her simple message. A world-weary dog, slumped at a table with a half-empty glass of wine, decides to seek out "the wise ram" and asks him, "What is happiness?" The ram answers him with a fable about Selma, a wide-eyed ewe with a big snout. "Every morning at sunrise, Selma would eat a little grass.../...she would play with her children until lunchtime.../ ...exercise in the afternoon," says the ram, unspooling her day at a leisurely pace. The loosely drawn ink cartoon panels, one per spread, glow with gentle tints that mark the passage of the sun across the sky. Foreign elements-the hand of an interviewer or the tail of a fox-intrude slyly, but Selma stays unruffled, true to her unhurried life, exchanging bleats with her children and chatting with her neighbor. An interviewer holding out a microphone asks Selma what she would do if she had more time or if she won a million dollars. Her answer: she would change nothing ("eat a little grass... play with her children until lunchtime," and so on), though Bauer adds some comic touches to vary the paintings. Selma makes an ideal mascot for living in the moment and for the importance of rituals, in this charming antidote to the clamor of consumerism.
Hornbook Guide to Children (Thursday, January 1, 2004):
Asked about happiness, a "wise ram" tells the story of Selma, a sheep with a routine of eating grass, playing with her children, exercising, and sleeping. And if she were given more time or a million dollars? Selma explains that she would eat grass, play with her children, exercise, and sleep. Although philosophically light, the book will charm readers with its tiny trim size and quirky, subtly colored line drawings.
San Diego Union-Tribune (December 18, 2005):
The question is: What is happiness? The answer is in the story of Selma, the contented sheep. Every morning at sunrise, Selma eats a little grass. She plays with her children until lunchtime and exercises in the afternoon. Then, she eats a little more grass. In the evening, she has a little chat with Mrs. Miller and finally falls fast asleep. When asked what she would do if she had a little more time, Selma answers, "Well I could eat a little grass in the morning. ..." And, if she won a million dollars? "Well I would love to eat a little grass in the morning. ..." Bauer has written an endearing antidote to the quest for more, in few words with expressive watercolor sketches.
Through the Looking Glass Book Reviews:
There is no doubt that the world has become a very complicated place and it is very easy to lose sight of what is important in life. This is not the case for Selma however, and she is truly an inspiration. Selma the sheep has very simple tastes and she knows what she likes to do and how she likes to spend her days. Selma likes to "eat a little grass" here and there, spend time with her children and her friends, sleep, and "exercise in the afternoon." What is very special about Selma is that even if she had more time, or if she had a million dollars to her wooly name, Selma would not change her life in any significant way. Things are the way she likes them, simple and uncomplicated. Selma's story is a reminder that the search for happiness does not need to be a difficult business. We just have to look at ourselves in simple terms and find the things that really make us happy - just like the kindly sheep did. With very simple text and minimal artwork this little book is a treat for readers of all ages.
Kids Book Shelf:
Selma is a beautiful book for both young and old alike. If you want to know what happiness is then you need to hear the story of Selma. Everyday Selma the sheep would eat a little grass at sunrise, play with her children until lunchtime, exercise in the afternoon, eat some more grass, have a chat with Mrs. Miller in the evening, and then fall fast asleep. This she did every day, no matter what, even if she had more time and more money, Selma was happy with her life. Many people think being happy is about getting new things and doing more things, but true happiness is being happy with your life as it is. A touching story that everyone should read.
Curled Up Kids.com (August 2006):
This small red book about a sheep named Selma contains much more than just an awfully likable sheep chewing grass.
Selma is a wise and sensible animal. In a few pages, she shows us the secret to being happy and content in life. It’s a simple concept presented in a straightforward way, with minimal text, minimal color, and minimal detail. Children will enjoy the repetition in the book, and everyone can enjoy Selma’s high spirits, which are captured so well in the illustrations.
Selma just exudes life as she fully enjoys her days and her night-time sleep. Selma will get you thinking and maybe even changing.
Everyone can use Selma in their lives.
SING, NIGHTINGALE, SING!
1-929132-98-0 Booklist (March 1, 2006):
Translated from the French, this book introduces 51 birds, each one in a paragraph of text accompanied by an illustration. The linocut artwork represents the birds in simplified, rather rounded forms that are decorative, though not as useful for identification as photos. Tucked into the envelope in the back cover of the book, a CD offers recordings of the birds’ songs. A few tracks include piano accompaniment, but usually the birds sing a cappella. The book’s European focus will suit some purposes. For instance, storytellers looking for birdsong to use with Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Nightingale” will find it here. On the other hand, songs of some common North American species, such as the whippoorwill and the mourning dove, are not included. Still, there is something to be said for a bird book that can be read while listening to the birds themselves. For larger collections.
A Chair, a Fireplace, and a Tea Cozy (March 13, 2006):
Ten Reasons Why Sing, Nightingale, Sing! by Francoise de Guibert, illustrated by Chiaki Miyamoto is a cool and fun book:
Who doesn't like birds? This tells about 60 different birds, from appearance to habits to food.
The illustrations are clear and detailed.
You know how frustrating it is to read about a sound being described, but how you just can't "get it" because it's a sound, music, a bird call? Or at most they give you an Internet link that may or many not still be working, and that depending on your connection you may or may not hear? Not to worry: find out what all the birds really sound like thanks to the included CD, with music by Daniel Goyone. It's birds and music; way cool.
Sometimes, we read for story; other times, for information. This is a great information book, the type that you don't so much read page by page, but rather bird by bird, depending on what you're interested in. Having just read Birdwing, I first read about swans.
The birds are pictured together in their typical environment, so its realistic; it's not swans are pictured next to sea gulls next to parrots, in some imagined bird utopia where all birds live regardless of "real" habitat.
I love footnotes and indexes and endnotes. Since this book is grouped by habitat, there are references to make it easy to find the bird you're interested in. It not only make this book easy to use, but it's a fun way for kids to start using these types of finding aids.
I'm not a birdwatcher. I can barely tell a blue jay from a robin. But I loved leafing through this book, admiring the illustrations, and learning about birds that I usually only know through books.
Eight, eight, I forget what eight was for.
My niece, Queen Lucy, is usually very understanding about having to wait to take a book home until Aunt Sissy has reviewed it. In this case, however, she insisted that she bring it to her house immediately, leaving me to make scrawled notes on post-its while she was putting her jacket on. It passes the "must own it NOW" test of a five year old.
And I put the scrawled notes in a safe place, and they are now LOST, so I had to go by memory, and this book and its details were good enough to stick in my memory without notes.
Live Mind (May 2006):
Other books teach kids about birds, but “Sing, Nightingale, Sing!” is a book/CD combo with original compositions inspired by birdsong. Where else can you hear a piano/pheasant duet? Each audio track tells a musical story, and music is, of course, how children experience birdsong in the first place. Sixty birds are featured, each with an illustration and pertinent facts about diet, nesting habits, and plumage. Midwestern kids might notice the absence of important characters like the cardinal, but they’ll meet rare and wonderful birds in exchange and find the tools and inspiration to match their favorite creatures with their unique vocal expressions.
Hip Librarians Book Blog (May 27, 2006):
Organized by habitat--garden, forest, ocean, pond, mountains and zoo--this birding book presents over 50 species common to Europe. Stylized representations with thick lines and bright colors of common owls, gulls and finches are depicted along with more exotic flamingoes, puffins and peacocks. Each image is accompanied by a fact-filled paragraph that gives tips for identification, such as social behaviors, special skills, and preferences for food, sleep, and flight.
Every entry includes colors of plumage and markings, length, beak style, song, diet and nest. The entries are numbered, with the number appearing on a static silhouette. The numbers correspond to tracks on the accompanying CD, which contains the bird songs of nearly every bird detailed in the book. The CD also contains original and lovely inspired compositions by Daniel Goyone that create a duet between bird and piano.
The book is not flawless - a map to show range of each species, or any kind of geographic indication, would make this more useful for report or amateur bird watching. Many North American species aren't included: the oriole, cardinal, screech owl, sandpiper, pelican, egret or turkey, just to name a few, and there is no introduction to define the scope of the book. The index is simply an alphabetical list of species.
The graphics are wonderful, however. While it's true that photos would have made identification impossible to miss, the illustrations are truly fantastic. Miyamoto shows birds in flight, birds close up, and birds together in their habitat. Somehow the artist imbues the characteristics of the breeds into the expressive drawings, so that a warbler looks cheery, and a raptor, predatory.
Perhaps better suited to European purchasers, the book does hold value to American audiences for the artwork, clever facts and companion CD, all for a bargain price of less that the cost of the average picture book.
Everyone loves to listen to birds sing, but can you tell one bird sound from another? "Sing, Nightingale, Sing!" is a great book and CD you can use to discover and learn about the birds of the world and their amazing songs. Each bird is unique in its song, sound, likes, dislikes and habits and this book will introduce you to over 60 different ones. Learn about birds in the garden like the robin and blackbird, discover birds in the forest like owls and woodpeckers, get to know birds in the pond like mallards and herons, learn about birds by the sea like gulls and puffins, and discover birds up in the mountains like buzzards and eagles. As you read about their biology and behavior you can pop in the CD and listen to the beautiful music they make. A great book for bird lovers or young readers interested in nature!
Field Guide to Parenting (November 9, 2006):
Learn how to identify over 60 different birds by sight and by sound. Some of the birdsongs on the CD are accompanied by original music written as a duet for bird and piano. Colorful illustrations center on the main characteristics of the bird. Just the right amount of information accompanies each illustration. The CD is wonderful – the bird sounds are remarkably beautiful and the piano takes care to accompany and not overwhelm the birdsong. Use the CD to learn to identify birds, but also as music for young ones to settle down to nap or a more quiet pursuit. A reminder to stop in the busy world to notice and appreciate the wonder of sounds of nature. It’s not a big book, but the CD and book together are great.