Monthly Archives: September 2013

IMWAYR: Baking Tales by Heather Forest

IMWAYRAugust House, a publishing company based in Atlanta, sent me review copies of several of their latest titles. I don’t always review everything I receive; I am hesitant to recommend any book that I am not fully impressed by. After all, this blog is essentially a labor of love. That said, I liked what I received and decided to promote the items. Last Thursday, I sponsored a giveaway for the book Teaching with Story: Classroom Connections to Storytelling. Only three people have signed up so far, so I encourage you to enter! But this Monday, I wanted to write about two picture books from August House. Both are beautifully illustrated and well-written adapted folktales. And by the way, I have received no money for these reviews or the giveaway.

The Woman Who Flummoxed the Fairies
Retold by Heather Forest
Illustrated by Susan Gaber
Ages 4+

Author Heather Forest and illustrator Susan Gaber have been friends for twenty-five years and have collaborated on four picture books. When you read The Woman Who Flummoxed the Fairies, you get a sense of this close relationship between text and images. Fairies literally hang off words and fly through the pages.

Flummoxedfairy1The fairies are not evil in this Scottish story, but they need to be tricked if the talented bakerwoman is ever to regain her life as a mother and wife. Jealous that they are deprived of her fine cakes, the fairies plot to kidnap the woman and keep her as their own personal baker.  This woman is no one’s fool, however, and she manages to fool the fairies into releasing her, but not without promises of future goodies. I would recommend this story to children who love fairies, as well as fans of folklore. Parents or educators looking for books featuring strong female characters would also do well to check out this title. Finally, a story where Mom is the hero!

The Baker’s Dozen: A Colonial American Tale
Retold by Heather Forest
Illustrated by Susan Gaber
Ages 5+

Christmas is coming and what better way to celebrate than to read a traditional tale featuring talking Saint Nicholas cookies. Van Amsterdam, a baker in Albanytown, works hard to develop a excellent reputation and then, not uncommonly, proceeds to rest on his laurels and cut corners. An old woman (possibly a witch) notices this decline in quality and chides him for being greedy. Soon, he is unable to bake anything at all and his costumers flee. Van Amsterdam is forced to rebuild his baker's dozenbusiness, but this time he is generous instead of stingy. Thus, the American idea of baker’s dozen (13 instead of 12) was born.

I originally thought this story was a bit harsh, but my 5-year-old son really likes the book and asked me to read it several times. Of course, he loves the gorgeous pictures of baked goods, but I think he is also moved by the message of the importance of hard work and charitable behavior. Thank you again to August House, as well as Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. Happy Reading!

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television show based on picture book

In Print and On the Screen: Pairing Picture Books and Media

As much as I love books, I am aware that we are increasingly living in a technology-based world. You are now more likely to see kids playing iPads than flipping through a pile of books. Do I have a problem with this? Yes, but I also don’t want my kids to be complete Luddites, either. In my ideal world, children would be exposed to both text and multimedia, with top quality as the main goal for both. So, who better to help design apps, television shows and movies than the amazing authors and illustrators who have been creating such beautiful (and sometimes overlooked) picture books. Technology need not overshadow print; it can also support it. Here is a list of apps, television shows and movies that can supplement picture books and encourage young children to love reading.

iPad Apps


Book: Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! by Mo Willems , Ages 3+
App: Don’t Let the Pigeon Run This App! , Ages 4+

Children never tire of Pigeon’s juvenile antics. Unable to drive a bus, deprived of a hot dog, chased by a mad cow, there is always something for Pigeon to freak out about. This app allows you to create your own Pigeon stories or draw Pigeon. If your child enjoys the Pigeon books, he or she will probably like playing the app. On the flip side, this app might also motivate reluctant readers to read more books about Pigeon. Either way, Don’t Let the Pigeon Run This App is a winner.


Books: Elephants Cannot Dance! (An Elephant and Piggie Book) or Leonardo, the Terrible Monster, Ages 3+
App: Pigeon Presents Mo… on the Go!, Ages 3+

For fans of the rest of the Mo Willems books, there is Pigeon Presents Mo.. On the Go!, with games such as Elephant & Piggie’s Dance O-Rama and Leonardo’s Monster Maker!

elephantandpiggie  leonardo

I bought this app for my kids before going to the beach this summer, it was a perfect downtime activity. They especially liked “interacting” with Mo Willems himself, who appears in a number of games.


Book: Olivia Saves the Circus , Ages 4+
App: OLIVIA the Great App , Ages 5+

Olivia is a born performer. In Olivia Saves the Circus, she single-handedly runs an entire circus… or so she tells her class. The show continues in OLIVIA the Great App, except this time she is a magician and it is your job to help her with her tricks.


Books: The Magic School Bus on the Ocean Floor, Ages 5+
App: The Magic School Bus: Oceans, Ages 5+

The Magic School Bus – Oceans is technically an e-book, but it has so many added features that it is worth getting, even if you already own the book. This app allows children to view plankton under a microscope, create a wave with their finger and use x-ray vision to see inside a marine animal.

Television Shows

Books: The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me, The Very Quiet Cricket, The Mixed-Up Chameleon, Ages 2+
Show: The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Other Stories, Ages 2+

Picture books don’t always directly translate well to the screen. My kids and I have watched a number of not very interesting programs based on books that we adore. Other, better shows, such as Martha Speaks, Arthur  and The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That, are fun to watch, but don’t necessarily follow the original books closely. The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Other Stories is a notable exception. This DVD brings to life four books by Eric Carle, complimenting his distinctive art style with well-chosen classical music. Our favorite is Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me; there is something hauntingly beautiful about this rendition that stays with you after you watch it.

Book: How the Grinch Stole Christmas! , Ages 4+
Show: Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas , Ages 4+

This 26-minute television classic was released in 1966 and has since been re-digitized and re-released. I loved watching it as a child, and unlike the Jim Carrey movie, it follows the original book fairly closely. I don’t think my kids have seen it yet, but I plan on changing that this Christmas!

Book: The Magic School Bus Inside the Human Body, Ages 5+
Show: The Magic School Bus: Human Body, Ages 5+

Kids love anatomy and what is more fun than imagining a school bus driving around your intestines? The DVD Magic School Bus: Human Body features three television shows that include all the great science information from The Magic School Bus Inside the Human Body, but with added storylines.


The following movies have been widely reviewed by many esteemed people, so I am going to just list ones that I feel are entertaining for children and reflect the books on which they were based, at least in spirit, if not in all of the details.

Book: The Lorax, by Dr. Seuss, Ages 5+
Movie: Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, Ages 5+

Book: Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, by Judi Barrett, Ages 4+
Movie: Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs, Ages 5+

Book: Shrek! by William Steig, Ages 4+
Movie: Shrek, Ages 5+

Book: The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg, Ages 5+
Movie: Polar Express, Ages 6+

So what have I missed? Please comment (or add to the Listly list) if you have any additional suggestions about multimedia based on picture books.

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Reviews of Apps, Television Shows and Movies Based on Picture Books

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