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Little Red Writing

Chronicle Books
illustrated by Caldecott honoree Melissa Sweet
Teaching Guide

 STARRED REVIEWS: Kirkus Reviews, School Library Journal, Publishers Weekly
• A Booklist Best Book of the Year,
* A Kirkus Best Book of the Year,
• School Library Journal Best Book of the Year

Publishers Weekly, starred review -- “Balanced gracefully on her point, Little Red is a courageous young pencil with a storytelling assignment from school. While the other young pencils choose to write about “Pencilvania” or themes based on their novelty erasers, Little Red decides to compose a heroic story. “Remember, it’s OK to wander a little, but stick to your basic story path so you don’t get lost,” warns her teacher, Ms. 2. Holub (Zero the Hero) cleverly combines two elementary-school formulas—the fairy tale and the writing exercise—as she shares the basics of storytelling and grammar. When Little Red activates her narrative with verbs, she “cartwheel right off the page and into... a deep, dark, descriptive forest” where words like “verdant” and “bosky” decorate leaves. Sweet (River of Words) illustrates in a flurry of colored pencil, watercolor, and collage. On yellowed, heavily doodled composition notepaper, she playfully mingles calligraphy, classroom settings, and images of Red defeating a sharp-toothed foe, the Wolf 3000 pencil sharpener. With style, humor, and solid writing advice.” 

School Library Journal, starred review -- “So rich in words and wry humor-written and visual-that one reading just isn't enough.”

“A very funny picture book that, I guarantee you, lots of savvy teachers will be eagerly sharing with students as part of the process of teaching creative writing.” - Richie Partington MLIS, Richie's Picks

“A fun twist on the familiar “Little Red Riding Hood” fairy tale and a word lover's delight.”—Common Sense Media

“A perfect prompt for beginning writers to borrow from Little Red's basket of words and try their own stories.”—Book Links, 2013 Lasting Connections

“What a CLEVER, CLEVER story!”— I Love to Read and Write Reviews

“This is an A-plus venture all the way, one that celebrates words and stories and is sure to entertain wannabe writers.”—BookPage

“This clever retelling of Little Red Riding Hood is quite the story in itself, and also gives children a framework on how to write their own stories.”—Library Media Connection

“This clever adaptation of Little Red Riding Hood has so many levels of creativity and learning... Every elementary teacher should have this book to begin their writing units.”—Play on Words

“The youngest of readers will appreciate this gorgeous tree-shaped board book.—WorkingMother.com

“Packs several grammar lessons into a story borrowed heavily from Little Red Riding Hood.”—Cool Mom Picks

“Full of fun and information. Teachers and aspiring young writers will embrace this lively story.”-The Horn Book Magazine

“Every writers' group should start with this story.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“Every elementary teacher should have this book to begin their writing units.”— Play on Words

“An easy, winning prompt for beginning writers to abandon their fears and take up pencils of their own.”-Booklist




Mighty Dads

A New York Times bestseller
illustrated by
James Dean, creator of Pete the Cat
Scholastic Press

School Library Journal Review:
The dads at this construction site teach by example and encourage their youngsters to strive to do their best. For example, there's Excavator Big, who "helps little Vator dig./They go/ scoop,/scoop,/scoop." Other father-and-son teams include Bulldozer and Dozy, Boom Truck and Boomer, Cement Mixer and Mixie, Dump Truck and Dumpy, Backhoe and Hoe-Hoe, Grader and Grady, Forklift and Forky. The action verbs and sound effects (crash, bang, boom!) abound as the adults demonstrate how to get jobs done and extol the virtues of being "strong," "steady," and "true-blue," in addition to being "brave" and "wise" . . . the message of "Mighty Dads say,/'I'm proud of you!/ Tomorrow let's build/something new!'" is just the ticket for vehicle-obsessed youngsters who can't get enough of construction play. -- 

Publishers Weekly review:
“Like father, like son” holds true even when Dad and Junior are heavy-duty construction equipment. “Dump Truck Sturdy/ teaches Dumpy to get dirty/ They go fill, drive, dump,” writes Holub (Little Red Writing), as Pete the Cat creator Dean shows a hulking blue and red truck create an impressive mountain while his offspring makes an adorable molehill. Like the best 21st-century human dads, the vehicles don’t just show their kids the ropes—they also offer plenty of TLC (“Cement Mixer Busy/ gives a hug if Mixie’s dizzy”) and affirmation (“Forklift Wise/ cheers whenever Forky tries”). . . a book worthy of any young armchair foreman. – Publisher’s Weekly

 Horn Book review:
“… will please kids and parents alike.”

Included in USA Today picture book round up!


Zero The Hero

Illustrated by NYTimes bestselling Tom Lichtenheld
Henry Holt & Co / Macmillan
ZERO THE HERO performed in American Sign Language
Publisher link with mask printables, buy links, and teaching guide
Zero. Zip. Zilch. Nada. That's what all the other numbers think of Zero. He doesn't add anything in addition. He's of no use in division. And don't even ask what he does in multiplication. (Hint: Poof!) But Zero knows he's worth a lot, and when the other numbers are suddenly kidnapped by the Roman numerals, he swoops down to prove that his talents are innumerable.


Junior Library Guild Selection

Cooperative Children's Book Center Best of 2013 selection

Georgia Book Award Nominee 2013-14

Mathical Book Prize Honor Award, grades K-2

Joan Holub presented K-2 math activities at the National Math Festival in Washington D.C. in 2017

 “The tongue-in-cheek humor combined with Lichtenheld's wonderfully personified cast of characters (complete with sassy speech bubbles and expressive faces) makes this a book kids will reach for again.” --KIRKUS REVIEWS

“Visual jokes and graphic elements keep this mathematically accurate book humming with humor, nudging the funny bone of the confident and mathphobic alike.” –Horn Book

“With cartoon energy and amusing visual asides, this story does for numbers what Laurie Keller did for states, and that's saying something.” --BOOKLIST

“This tale not only reinforces mathematical principles, but also has a great message about friendship and personal feelings. It can be read aloud, alone, or performed as reader's theater.” --SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL

“ . . . features walking, talking written characters (digits, in this case, rather than letters), accompanied by Lichtenheld's snappy, cartoon-style art.” --PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

Tool School James Dean Pete the Cat Joan Holub image.jpg


Tool School

Scholastic Press
A School Library Journal Popular Pick!

Five young personified tools—Hammer, Screwdriver, Pliers, Saw, and Tape Measure—experimenting with their skills and finding their way around a builder’s classroom. Cartoon illustrations feature their wide-eyed excitement for learning, frustration as they try to work independently for the first time, and cubbies filled with enough wood, cardboard, screws, nails, glue, and clamps to satisfy their every experiment. ... A MUST-READ for budding makers in all libraries, measuring up to the need for early introduction to creative tools, and entertainingly illustrated for the very young. -- School Library Journal

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The Knights Before Christmas

Picture book, ages 4 and up
Henry Holt & Co / Macmillan
Illustrated by Scott Magoon
32 pages

“The text unfolds in pitch-perfect rhymes that follow the basic pattern of the classic poem, with the addition of witty wordplay incorporated into speech balloons and in signs, lists, and banners on the castle walls. The three knights are named Brave Knight, Polite Knight, and Silent Knight, each with a distinct, appropriate personality. When Santa arrives to deliver gifts to the castle, the knights see him as an intruder and try to repel his advances. Santa is just as determined as the knights to succeed in his own mission. He flings his presents and holiday decorations into the castle with an evergreen-tree catapult, which the knights then appropriate for the castle's Christmas tree. Digitally produced illustrations in deep jewel tones successfully bring to life the complex physical world of the castle and skillfully meet the logistical challenges of the knights' battle of airborne gifts with Santa. There's an excellent interplay between the amusing illustrations and the polished text, with lots of clever jokes for readers to discover in the art. These knights know how to keep the castle safe and the readers entertained.”-- Kirkus Reviews

"A royal romp of holiday pratfalls and punnery. Yule love it!"
—Tom Lichtenheld, bestselling illus of Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site

"A royal delight of a book! Sure to become a favorite holiday read-aloud in every household throughout the land!" —Judy Schachner, creator of Skippyjon Jones

"A great premise...Magoon's illustrations are vibrant and fun...!" -- Publishers Weekly

A Pottery Barn Kids selection!


Seed School: Growing Up Amazing

Picture book, ages 4 and up
See more at Seagrass Press / Quarto
Illustrated by Sakshi Mangal
32 pages, ISBN: 9781633223745
Book Review
Book Trailer

Kirkus Reviews:
A fun (and punny) introduction to seeds. (Informational picture book. 4-8) 
Throughout, the lost seed, the only one who doesn’t know what it will become, takes humorous guesses as to his future: He has a “spiffy hat”; perhaps he will grow a hat vine? It likes singing; maybe a music plant? Graduation day comes with the winter weather, and the seeds disperse by water or wind or via animal. When spring arrives, they sprout and grow, except for the lost seed, who must wait many years before he finally discovers the wondrous thing he has become. Read full review.



Itty Bitty Kitty (HarperCollins)

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Itty Bitty Kitty and the Rainy Play Day

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Itty Bitty Kitty, Firehouse Fun


Groundhog Weather School

Ever wonder where Groundhog Day first began? Want to know the reason why we have different weather seasons? Curious about how some plants and animals can help predict the weather? Learn the answers to these questions and many more at Groundhog Weather School! This clever story—starring a cast of lovable groundhog characters—is a fresh, informative, and fun look at Groundhog Day through the eyes of the animals who are the stars of it each year.


“The amusing illustrations, colorful paintings digitally collaged with found objects and papers, set the tone for this inviting introduction to groundhogs and the holiday named for them.”—Booklist

“Good fun that will subtly teach in between laughs.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Each turn of the page provides another surprise.”—School Library Journal

Wagons Ho!

What do a farm girl in 1846 and her 21st-century, cellphone-using counterpart have in common? When their respective families announce they're moving from Missouri to Oregon, both face some of the biggest challenges of their lives. Jenny, the pioneer girl, must leave her pet cat behind with cousins and risk life and limb on the Oregon Trail, including crossing the Rockies on foot (“It takes almost two months to cross them”). Modern-day Katie has it a lot cushier (“We stay in a hotel with a pool!”), but she still has to say good-bye to her BFF Sophie and share the backseat with her carsick little brother, “Mr. Annoying.”…packed with detail about the girls' lives, revealed in captions, conversations, and vignettes. -- Publishers Weekly

This book offers an excellent solution to the perennial social studies problem: how do you help a child understand another culture, time, or geography? … Librarians should snap up this book for primary school libraries! -- Children's Literature

“Fans of Laura Ingalls Wilder's “Little House” series (HarperCollins) will appreciate this fictional/factual picture book. -- School Library Journal

Awards: 2011 Book Links Lasting Connection; 2011 Reading the West Shortlist, Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association; Best Children's Books of the Year 2012, Bank Street College; Recommended Read - Kansas State Reading Circle

Reviews : "While debut author Hallowell and the prolific Holub effectively intertwine history lessons with personal revelations, Avril handles the dual narratives and contrasting time frames with aplomb, often employing parallel or side-by-side panels so readers can compare the two girls' great adventures." Publishers Weekly

"Together, the art and text make a good introduction to the Westward Movement. The format is best suited for individual or small-group reading. Fans of Laura Ingalls Wilder's 'Little House' series (HarperCollins) will appreciate this fictional/factual picture book." -- School Library Journal

"Vibrantly enlivening pioneer migration for primary readers, this is a fine addition for both home and classroom." -- Kirkus Reviews

"Cartoon panels help organize the many lively illustrations into two parallel stories, while the first-person narratives convey the girls' hopes, fears, joys, and laments, along with bits of information and humor." -- Booklist

"Parallel layouts of the breezy cartoon-styled jaunt make comparisons easy, and the overlap of the stories at Independence Rock, where the Johnsons inscribe their names and Millers read them, invites the past into the present for a young audience." -- RECOMMEND, The Bulletin

"Teachers could use this book as a model for writing/social studies assignments. Young readers will enjoy this book and should gain some insight into the difficulties of pioneer life." -- Library Media Connection

Apple Countdown


The students in Mr. Lee's class count all they see on their field trip to the apple farm, starting with 20 name tags and ending with 1 lost tooth. Incorporating cheerful dialogue and rhyming text, this easy-to-read book also introduces facts about apples (“An apple has five holes,/each with seeds inside,'/says Clyde”). Each number is presented in numerical format inside a red apple and also spelled out in red letters in the text. The vibrant watercolor illustrations are dominated by primary colors, and the excitement shows on the smiling faces of the students as they count 14 cows, 13 ducks, and 12 rows of trees. Readers will be counting right along with them and will also enjoy the facts on the endpapers. -- School Library Journal


Pumpkin Countdown


Ms. Blue's first graders are going on a field trip to Farmer Mixenmatch's pumpkin patch, and everyone is very excited. This title provides a new spin on a familiar topic by combining a counting book with rhyme, search and find, math problems, and interesting facts about pumpkins. Children and teachers alike will enjoy the interactive nature of this story. A cross-curricular choice, it conveys simple information on the growth cycle of pumpkins, a bit about bees, and age-appropriate word problems, making it a great choice for math class or a read-aloud. The vibrant illustrations and lively cast of characters will hold youngsters' interest right up to the last page. Perfect for fall counting lessons. -- School Library Journal


The Man Who Named the Clouds