Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Children's Book Reviews: Finding Winnie & Toys Meet Snow

The CCBC (Cooperative Children's Book Center), a library of the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin- Madison puts out an annual list of CCBC Choices. These titles are new titles published during that current year for children and young adults which have been found to be engaging and informational for children and teens. This is a GREAT list to use when looking for something specific for teaching a topic or theme like Science, Poetry, Art, etc. As a teacher librarian, I love getting this little book each year at conferences in WI where we live. There are SO many fantastic books listed in it which I have either been hoping would make the list because I think they're awesome too, OR I can't wait to see what books I haven't even heard about yet which are great. 
Although I work predominantly with grades 6-12, I like to stay current with younger children's literature too. Plus, I have girls who still LOVE to be read to or to have time to all read aloud while passing the book around the room. These are special times for us. 

Here are 2 books from the CCBC Choices 2016 list that we recently tried out...

Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World's Most Famous Bear 
Author: Lindsay Mattick
Illustrator: Sophie Blackall 
Release date: October 20, 2015
Published by: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers 
Awards: Caldecott Medal 2016 & 2016 Charlotte Zolotow Award Book Honor 
CCBC Choices Category: Historical People, Places, and Events 
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the true story of a bear name Winnie being told to a young lad by his mother. An army veterinarian bought her as a cub on a whim while at a train station in England on his way to begin his job taking care of the horses during WWI. Winnie soon not only won the heart of Dr. Colebourn but also his entire army base in England. He finally has to her over to be cared for by the London Zoo before heading to the frontlines, where a young lad named Christopher Robin meets her.

Our thoughts: This was an absolute delight in every way! We read this one aloud around the fire one night in our backyard. We even passed it back and forth between Reaghan (9yo) and I while the grandparents, Mallory (11yo) and daddy all listened. We were entranced, to say the least.

We thought that it was so darn fun that the story was being told to the audience and the little boy by the living relatives of Dr. Colebourn just as the story was told to them by him over the years. To go along with this, we also thoroughly enjoyed the illustrations which did a great job feeling "historical". We also loved the actual photographs at the end of Winnie in the army and at the London Zoo with Christopher Robin. 

One thing that really stood out for me as a librarian and as a teacher is that this was a fantastic non-fiction book for younger children. It didn't overwhelm you with textual information and still told a complete story very well. Plus, it was just plain sweet, sad and memorable. 

There are so many ways you could use this one in the classroom! If you were talking about WWI, or animals in war, or even about the treatment of animals since in the end he makes a good decision for what's best for the animal by taking her to a place where she would be cared for in the best possible way. I personally think that picture books can be used birth to adult, and this one is a great one for absolutely any age. 

View all my reviews 

Toys Meet Snow: Being the Wintertime Adventures of a Curious Stuffed Buffalo, a Sensitive Plush Stingray, and a Book-loving Rubber Ball 
Authors: Emily Jenkins & Paul O. Zelinsky
Release date: September 22, 2015
Published by: Schwartz & Wade/RandomHouse
CCBC Choices Category: Seasons and Celebrations
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A day in the life of Lumphy, StingRay an Plastic as they adventure out into the snow.

My thoughts: This was a lovely and sweet picture book about three adorable characters who each have very different personalities and yet all enjoy a small adventure in the snow for the day. It made us smile and smile while also making us feel as though we were right there with them exploring.

This is a very sweet book for a young audience of perhaps birth to 5 only. We were certainly able to enjoy and appreciate both the artwork and the sweet simplicity of it, but were not wow'd at our adult and 9yo ages. It would be PERFECT for my sister-in-law the Kindergarten teacher to use with her students as winter nears, or even on that most exciting day in Wisconsin when it first snows. I can hear in my imagination my friend the elementary teacher librarian doing voices for each of the three characters if she were to read it out loud for an audience. 

This book just makes me smile when I think about it, and isn't that just great!? I think so.

Have you read either of these? What did you think? 

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