Written and Illustrated by Marthe Jocelyn
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The charming art projects in this book are like Random Acts of Kindness meet Street Art. The sneaky part is to surprise people, either family or friends even strangers, with a bit of art to make them smile. The projects are made from materials that most everyone has or can easily find. They are meant to be seen in public places. They are meant to be fun. The book maintains this message of spreading laughter and friendship, but it does explicitly state at the beginning that “sneaky art is NOT: mean, defacing, ugly, hurtful, messy or permanent.” The book describes “sneaky lettering”, which involves using letters from a variety of sources and “getting sneaky”, which means finding a sneaky spot, knowing when to place your art in its spot and figuring out how to get it there without getting caught. Like street art, it is not meant to be permanent, so the author urges the reader to take a picture to remember their artwork. The final advice? “Don’t make anyone mad—make them laugh!” All the projects are easy to make and have a hip and funky look to them that will appeal to everyone. The difficulty levels vary, however, so some projects could be made by a much younger child, which means the projects could be shared with younger students or siblings.
The instructions are told with a laughing, conspiring tone that makes it fun to read. This would be the perfect book for those units on how-to books or even a Character Counts unit that talks about Random Acts of Kindness, using the projects as a literacy activity. The book has a spiral binding, allowing the book to stay open as one does the projects. There is a Sneaky Art Activity Kit on the publisher’s website: (http://www.candlewick.com/book_files/0763656488.kit.1.pdf). The reading level is 4.8, but the instructions are easy for all readers.
- TITLE: Sneaky Art: Crafty Surprises to Hide in Plain Sight
- AUTHOR and ILLUSTRATOR: Marthe Jocelyn
- PUBLISHER: Candlewick, 2013
- REVIEWER: Risa Brown
- EDITION: Hardcover, 54 p.
- ISBN: 978-0-7636-5648-5
- GENRE: How-to, crafts projects
- LEXILE: 720. Reading level 4.8
Written and Illustrated by Chris Mould
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If your students like dark and scary, there is plenty in this one to creep them out. In the walled city of Hangman’s Hollow, Jarvis, the evil city warden, looks for children. He is tall and skinny with a hook instead of a left hand. He hates children and is determined to get rid of them all. Not only have children been outlawed in the city, Jarvis, instead of locking them up, sells them to the woods folk in the magical forest at the edge of town. Witches and strange animals drool at the sight of tender human children. Jarvis has recently had a bad experience. Three children escaped from him (Pip and the Woodwitch Curse, book one of the Spindlewood trilogy) and he is driven by rage to find them again. Pip, Toad and Frankie are now hiding in an inn called Deadman’s Hand. They are cozy and warm by the fire and have plenty to eat, but they know that they are hunted. In addition, a mysterious wooden doll has the ability to tell children’s locations if a person knows how to ask properly. Jarvis knows how. When the doll falls into his hands, he finds the children with ease. Again he confronts Pip, Toad and Frankie. Jarvis almost captures the three, but then the townspeople attack him. They are fed up with his devious ways. Pip knows where the captured children are in the wild wood and talks the other two into rescuing them. The result is a hair-raising chase out of the woods. Even though the children return to Hangman’s Hollow, they know that Jarvis is still out there.
Even as scary as I found this book to be, it would be a good story for those older reluctant readers who need a compelling read. The chapters are short, the print is big and the illustrations make this look like a graphic novel. Story details are not clear, although there is some explanation in the excerpted part at the end. Because the setting is so vivid, literacy activities, such as making a diorama or a visual representation of the “world”, would extend the story in an interesting way.
- TITLE: Pip and the Twilight Seekers
- AUTHOR AND ILLUSTRATOR: Chris Mould
- PUBLISHER: Albert Whitman, 2011
- REVIEWER: Risa Brown
- EDITION: Hardcover, 170 p.
- ISBN: 978-0-8075-6553-7
- GENRE: Fantasy
- LEXILE: 790