Category Archives: Stella Blackstone

Bear Series – BEAR ABOUT TOWN (Board Book Review)

Written by: Stella Blackstone
Illustrated by: Debbie Harter

When I signed up for the Barefoot Books Stallholder program, I was given a starter pack that contains all of the Barefoot Books Best Sellers of all Time. One of them, is this board book (but also comes in Paper Back Edition), BEAR ABOUT TOWN.

Just like my previous post about BEAR IN A SQUARE, the main character that the author Stella Blackstone puts in the spotlight is the BEAR. To give a more detailed look of the bear, I will try to describe to you how the bear looks like: The bear in this book is portrayed as friendly, engaging and always on the go. The bear has a smooth and even skin tone that appears clean and inviting. The bear does not look scary at all. In fact to me, it does not give the impression that he will growl and give the reader a look that says, “Go away!”. This bear looks huggable and throughout this series, the bear seems to be smiling even though the mouth is not visible because it is hidden under the bear’s nose.
Each page of the book contains the same language format as the previous Bear book, which is simple, direct and one-sentence per page. In this book, the Bear goes to different locations in the local geography introducing places in the neighborhood such as the bakery, the swimming pool, cinema, gym, toyshop and the park. As the Bear goes around these neighborhood locations, the days of the week are also introduced. Each day of the week, the Bear visits one area until Sunday comes, where the Bear’s activities are done. At the end of the book, there is a map which can also double up as a maze for an additional activity for the readers to do. 
Recommendations to use for:
1. introducing the DAYS OF THE WEEK
2. local geography
3. possible play time activities
4. identify things that are associated in a certain local destination

 

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Bear Series – BEAR IN A SQUARE (Board Book Review)

 

Written by: Stella Blackstone
Illustrated by: Debbie Harter

 

This is one of the books that is included in the Bear Series that is written by Stella Blackstone (I believe there are six of them, and each of these books are also written in Spanish edition). I have seen four out of the six books in this series and each one of them is phenomenal. The four books that I have seen and read to my daughter are the following: Bear in Sunshine, Bear about Town, Bear’s Busy Family and Bear in a Square.

I remember the very first Bear Series that I read – and I saw it in my doctor’s office waiting room! I honestly got hooked on it for my daughter and wanted too buy the full series for her!  That particular book was “Bear in a Square”, which happened to be my daughter’s most-wanted book this week.

I can see why it is her favorite of the week. First, the words in each page are simple and direct. Each page asks the reader to be interactive with the text as well as the pictures. It asks the reader to find the particular shape that is hidden in the page. For her age, one direct sentence to learn and identify shapes is all that she needs to learn the concept of shapes. There are exactly 10 different shapes that are presented on this book. It goes in the order of: square, heart, circle, rectangle, moon shape, triangle, diamond, zigzag, oval and star.

Secondly, I think she is fascinated with the bold and fantastic colors that are embodied in each of the pages. The BEAR in the book is always present in all the pages as part of the search. Not only that but the scenes where the shapes are hidden are diverse. An example is, “Find the hearts in the queen’s hair” and the scene on this page is a castle with a vivid picture of a queen with two hearts on her hair. Other scenes that are used are the school, the pool, the sea and the cave.

This book can be used in so many different ways. As the book progressed to different shapes, the number of shapes is also increasing. First there is only one square to find, then 2 hearts, then 3 circles…and so on until the last shape which is the star with the last number of 10. A child can easily identify what is also asked on the text, by checking on the right hand side of the book to see what shape is being asked for. A child can also self-correct himself as to the number of shapes that are present in each page by looking and comparing the number of the shapes on the right hand side to the number of shapes the child has identified.

What I like about this book is that my daughter really sits down until the end of the book and gets to enjoy each page of the book. I guess, what goes in her mind is that the pictures are so real, they are almost “touchable” to the eye. 

 

 

My Granny Went to Market – by Stella Blackstone (a book review)

  

My Granny Went to Market (A Round-the-World counting Rhyme)

Written by: Stella Blackstone
Illustrated by: Christopher Corr

Read Alone: Ages 4-7
Read Together: Ages 0-4
Hardcover; Jacketed; Full-color illustrations ; 24pp;
10.25 x 10 inches

 

This book takes you far away to ten different locations in the world. I feel like after reading this book with my daughter, that I have taken her far away from Massachusetts! In fact, 10 different places in one sitting, isn’t that exciting – for just one book? From Istanbul (did you know that Istanbul is the ONLY city in the world that is located in two continents? Europe and Asia?), to Thailand, to Mexico, to China, Switzerland, Africa, Russia (russs-siiaa), Australia, Japan (Which state in the US means ‘good morning in Japanese’? – Answer: Ohio) and Peru, it definitely is a traveling book! My daughter loves listening to me while I read this book to her – most probably because she hears foreign languages from most of the pages. In fact, she was so excited on the page where the Granny went to Thailand, she ripped it! This particular page contains the Thai words ‘Puyin’ and ‘Puchai’ which means little little girl and little boy respectively.

 

As the subtitle of this book suggest around the world counting rhyme, this book presents counting in an international sense. As the Granny in the book travels from her first destination to the next, the pages accumulate the numbers of object a particular country is known for. Dig this part from the book:

 

First destination – from Istanbul – one flying carpet (1)

Second destination – Thailand – two temple cats (2)

Third destination – Mexico – three masks (3)

Fourth destination – China – four lanterns (4)

Fifth destination – Switzerland – five cowbells (5)

Sixth destination – Africa – six drums (6)

Seventh destination – Russia – seven dolls (7)

Eighth destination – Australia – eight boomerang (8)

Ninth destination – Japan – nine kites (9)

Tenth destination – Peru – ten llamas (10)

 

This book also tackled in a subtle way the different continents of the world. On the very first page of the book, there is a world map that tracked all the travel destinations that the Granny went to. On this map, the continents on where the countries that the Granny visited were in bold letters to emphasize that these countries belong to these continents. 

Rhymes are all over the book. Take for example this page, where the words ‘Japanese’ rhymes with the word ‘breeze’:

An activity that will go along with this book aside from counting and rhymes, is the identification of what people are called from these countries. If you are an educator you could start off a book walk by asking which country does the city of Istanbul belong to? Answer: Turkey. Therefore, if the country is Turkey, the people are called, ‘Turkish’. The lesson activity can move on from this first destination to the last part.

– Alpha

Skip through the Seasons – by Stella Blackstone (book review)

   

Skip through the Seasons

(formerly published as Jump into January)  

Written by: Stella Blackstone
Illustrated by: Maria Carluccio

Read Alone: Ages 4-9
Read Together: Ages 0-4
Paperback; Full-color illustrations; 32pp;
10.25 x 10 inches

This is one of the many books that the author Stella Blackstone wrote. Among the many other best-selling books that Stella Blackstone wrote were My Granny Went to Market, Cleo the Cat series, Dragon on the Doorstep, I wish I were a Dinosaur, Secret Seahorse, Alligator Alphabet, An Island in the Sun, Bear series, Who are you? and Where’s the cat? Each of these books that Stella Blacktone wrote is distinctive of each other but the diversity of topics presented in each book is evident throughout. Her stories were translated in different languages. She lives in southwest England with her three children, two dogs and two cats.

For this book Skip through Seasons, it portrays about a journey around the year that includes objects and things and events that happen in each month. For most of each month of the year, there is also an action word that begins with the same letter as that month. For example:

Jump – for January

Fly – for February

Move – for May

Jive – for July

Slide -for September

Dance – for December

The other six months of the year that does not begin with an action word that begins with the same letter. However, these months still incorporates movements and actions that somehow relates to what is going on for these months. Examples are:

Whirl – for March

Splash -for April

Race – for June

Sail – for August

Twirl – for October

Sweep – for November

What I like about this book is at the bottom part of each page, it displays several words that are commonly used for each month. This is very useful when teachers and parents are introducing key words to children that are related to a festivities for the month. The words are supported by the pictures that are drawn for each page. There are many activities that you could use this book for including (let’s take for example you are introducing the month of December) :

1. asking where the picture of a candy cane,

2. asking which among the set of words is a ‘candy cane’,

3. naming 3 objects that they see on the page that are commonly used during the season,

4. naming the 12 months of the year,

5. the different seasons of the year, movements,

6. words that begin with the same letter as the name of the month and

7. rhyming words! (at the end of each phrase it says – come along  with me! – and on the other page it ends with – what can you see? -)

The teachers can also laminate the words for a particular season for their word wall say summer –

For June – the words are (scooter, thermos, picnic blanket, basket, butterfly, swing, skateboard, bread, bicycle, bananas, cooler, picnic bench)

For July – the words are (juggler, dolls, bumper cars, ice cream stand, cotton candy, carousel, balloons, flags, ticket booth, ferris wheel, moon)

For August – the words are (sailboats, shovel, fisherman, crab, beach ball, sunglasses, pails, seagull, hammock, surfboard, sandcastles, flippers)

If I were still an early childhood teacher, this book would definitely be an all-year-round sight in my class’s library. They can build their vocabulary throughout the year with the pictures and the sight words that are included in each of the pages. What is also great is that, this book targets every topic that has to do with seasons even weather. This is worth having a multiple copies for yourself!

Alpha