Friday, April 21, 2017

PPBF: Bob and Joss Get Lost by Peter McCleery, Illustrated by Vin Vogel

Title: Bob and Joss Get Lost!
Written By:  Peter McCleery
Illustrated By: Vin Vogel
Published By: Harper/Harper Collins Publishers 2017
Genre: Fiction 
Suitable For Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: Boredom / Personal Views / Communication
Bob was bored. "I'm bored," he said. "let's do something."
"Let's take a boat trip," said Joss. 
"No way," said Bob. 
"Why not?" asked Joss. 
"We will get lost," said Bob. 
"We won't get lost," said Joss. 
Brief SynopsisFrom the publisher: They get lost. Or do they? Join Bob and Joss on a hilarious adventure as they get shipwrecked on a tropical island. 
Why I Like This Book: I enjoyed the opposing personalities (shown via art and text) of Bob and Joss with their different outlooks and that despite that, they are best friends. That in itself paves the path for an interesting situations -- which lead the reader along on a fun and funny adventure.  Vin Vogel's art perfectly captures the spirit of this duo. A fun adventure for anyone to go on, but especially appealing to little boys. So fun, I didn't even mind sheepy-looking stormclouds or getting shipwrecked!
I'd like to see where Bob and Joss take us in the future! 
For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

GUEST POST: Backstage at The Family (and Frog) Haggadah with Karen Rostoker Gruber and Ron Isaacs

The Family and Frog! Haggadah

by Karen Rostoker-Gruber, as Frog! and Ron Isaacs.

Make your seder different than all other seders!
Start with a traditional Haggadah text, add artwork, your favorite songs and fun facts, then add a hopping frog to its pages and you’ll get. . . 

The Family and Frog! Haggadah

Since the release of this Haggadah, things have been a bit crazy.  We’ve been doing Passover shows with Frog (I’m also a ventriloquist), Barnes & Noble bought 900 copies for their stores nation-wide, there were promotional videos taken of Frog (I’ll put a link to them at the bottom of this article), our book was in the March edition of Hadassah Magazine, we were on the front page of The New Jersey Jewish News (March 23), and on one of those days, our book hit #1 on Amazon!

Background info on how it came about
The Family and Frog! Haggadah came about in a board room at Behrman House, a Jewish publishing company, based in Springfield, NJ.  Our book, “Farmer Kobi’s Hanukkah Match,” was just named a National Jewish Book Award Finalist, and the editorial staff at Behrman House wanted to know if Ron and I would like to work on a Haggadah together.  The stipulation was that the Haggadah was to be like no other:  It had to be traditional in content, but fun! for the whole family—ages 3-90.  That was a tall order.

Ron wrote the Haggadah, because he is a Rabbi, and I decided to add a character that would liven up the seder.  Dena, the Editorial Director, suggested a frog, which was brilliant!

That night I went home, read Ron’s whole Haggadah, and started letting my character, Frog, comment on everything—similar to things that someone might say at an actual Passover seder—under their breath or otherwise.   

Every time I thought that I was done, and spoke with Ann Koffsky, the editor on the project, or Dena Neusner, the Editorial Director, they pushed my creativity more and more.  I was allowed to do anything that I wanted to do with Frog, so I did.  I have Frog interacting with the Haggadah in ways that were never done before. 

Frog is 5 years old and gender neutral.  Frog spills things, makes a matzah mess, plays guitar, runs away from Pharaoh’s army, and even eats a locust during the seder.  The sky was the limit. 

I gave Ann and Dena three times the amount of material for Frog, so that they could take things away and still be left with a whole lot of fun! 

This Haggadah was one of the hardest, most challenging manuscripts I have ever worked on.  It changed daily as Ron was still editing while I was getting Frog to comment on things that he was working on at the time.  Plus. . . there was the deadline.  J

The printed Haggadah was more than I ever expected it to be.  It’s beautiful!  Ann designed it to look like a very traditional Haggadah, from the typefaces and colors that she chose, to the background that resembles a piece of papyrus.  She also selected gorgeous pieces of art and artifacts for each page--and then. . .popping out of corners, across the pages, and jumping to different sections, is a cartoon amphibian—Frog.  It’s unexpected and fun!  Not only is there a cartoon frog bursting through the binding, singing songs and breaking matzah, but there are also “Fun Facts,” “Did You Know” and “Try This,” parts of the Haggadah, which elevates this Haggadah even higher and encompasses so many different age groups that there is literally something for everyone.  

I am so proud of this project.  And the finished product came out beyond my wildest expectations.  Plus, Frog LOVES it!  And that was important to me.    
                     --Karen Rostoker-Gruber
! do LOVE it!
I do LOVE it!
It’s toadily awesome!

Here’s a link to the videos of Frog:
Author bios
My first book came out February 15, 2017, and I’m only 5 years old!
I write everything in green.  That’s me in the picture above. I’m with Karen.  She adopted me.  I came all the way from Texas to be with her. J

Karen Rostoker-Gruber is an award-winning children’s book author. Her first children’s book, “Food Fright,” was published in 2003 by Price Stern Sloan. Her second children’s book, “Rooster Can’t Cock-a-Doodle-Doo,” was published in 2004 by Dial Books for Young Readers.  It was nominated for the Missouri Show Me Award in 2005.  “Bandit,” “Bandit’s Surprise,” and “Ferret Fun” came out from Marshall Cavendish and all received starred reviews in School Library Journal!  “Tea Time,” her first board book, came out from Marshall Cavendish in 2010.   “Bandit” was nominated for the South Carolina Book Award and both “Bandit” and “Bandit’s Surprise” were featured on Celebrity Apprentice, and “Ferret Fun” was preliminarily nominated for the Missouri Show Me Award.  Both “Rooster Can’t Cock-a-Doodle-Doo” (in 2005) and “Bandit” (in 2009) were listed as International Reading Association—Children’s Book Council Children’s Choice Award recipients.  In the spring of 2017, “Maddie the Mitzvah Clown,” will be published by Apples and Honey Press, a division of Behrman House.   

Rabbi Ron Isaacs has served Temple Sholom in Bridgewater, New Jersey, as its spiritual leader since 1975. He has a doctorate in educational technology from Columbia University’s Teachers College. An adjunct lecturer at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, he is the author of more than 100 books, including “Ascending Jacob’s Ladder: Jewish Views of Angels, Demons, and Evil Spirits;” “Ask the Rabbi: The Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How of Being Jewish;” and “Kosher Living: It’s More than Just the Food.” He is the first rabbi in New Jersey to receive the United Synagogue’s Keter Torah award for outstanding lifetime achievement and rabbinical excellence. He is known as the “teaching rabbi.”

Their book, “Farmer Kobi’s Hanukkah Match,” was a National Jewish Book Award Finalist, and won the 2016 Outstanding Children’s Literature Award from the Church and Synagogue Library Association.

NOTE: Please check out yesterday's post for a chance to win this wonderful book and have frog's presence at your Passover Seder!

Friday, April 7, 2017

PPBF: The Family and Frog Haggadah by Rabbi Ron Isaacs & Karen Rostoker-Gruber Pictures by: Jackie Urbanovic

Title: The Family and Frog Haggadah 
Written By: Rabbi Ron Isaacs & Karen Rostoker-Gruber
Illustrated By: Jackie Urbanovic
Published By: Behrman House, 2017
Genre: Fiction 
Suitable For Ages: 4-8
Themes/Topics: Persistence, Determination. 
Searching for Chameitz. 
Before Passover starts, we clean our homes and get rid of all our bread, pasta and most types of grains -- also called chameitz. We do this to remember that when the Israelites fled Egypt, they left in such a hurry that the dough that they prepared for the journey did not have sufficient time to rise into bread. Instead, it became the flatbread we call matzah. 

Frog: Wait -- I found a piece of toadst! 
Brief SynopsisFrom the publisher: “Make your seder different than all the other seders! Start with a traditional Haggadah text, add vibrant artwork, your favorite songs and fun facts to it. Then add a hopping frog to its pages, and you'll get....The Family and Frog! Haggadah. Pass on your timeless heritage while creating new seer traditions that you and your family will look forward to repeating year after year. 
Why I Like This Book: I love that this book is read, paging from right to left and that it is an informative and inspiring educational guide to a seder celebration. Frog's illustrations are entertaining and will keep little ones engaged while they learn more about their holiday. Although this is a picture book for children, there is so much packed into this book by way historical and traditional information, as well as stories to share and fun activity suggestions, that there is definitely something for everyone! This book can be enjoyed year after year as your children learn and grow and focus on different aspects of the text and activities. 

In addition to my being a fan of Karen Rostoker-Gruber's picture books, I am also an admirer of Jackie Urbanovic's books as well. I found this to be a wonderful collaboration with Rabbi Ron Isaacs! Mazel Tov! 
Five Stars and a perfect picture book friday and Passover pick!
I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

And now, for an exciting GIVEAWAY! I have one copy of The Family and Frog Haggadah to give to one lucky winner! This book (and Frog) will become an important part of your family Passover celebrations. Just leave a comment for Karen that shares an aspect of your own family celebration that is special to you. I will choose a winner on Monday! 

And click on this link to go backstage with Karen on the making of this book:

For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

PB REVIEW: Where Are the Words by Jodi McKay, Pictures by Denise Holmes

TITLE: Where Are the Words?
AUTHOR: Jodi McKay
ILLUSTRATOR: Denise Holmes
PUBLISHER: Albert Whitman 

REVIEW BY: Lynne Marie

JACKET FLAP: Period wants to write a story. But he can't find the words. Can Question Mark help him look? Hold on! Exclamation Point found some words! Now that they have the words and gathered friends along the way, the big question is: Can they work together to create a story?

SNIPPET: I have some words: Once upon a time...

REVIEW: I thought this was a fun and clever way to teach children whether at home, school or homeschool to understand the different functions of punctuation and words, and how they all work together (sometimes better than others) to create a story and amuse readers. 

NOTE: The opinions reflected herein are my own.