Books by Paige Billin-Frye

Released: Sept. 1, 2006

This combination biography and science text is a fascinating look at one man's interest in weather. Luke Howard began keeping a weather journal at the age of ten. Always fascinated with clouds, studying the weather became a lifelong hobby. Howard created a system for naming the different cloud types that is the basis for our cloud names today. Information about Howard's time period puts his life and experiences in perspetive for young readers. Scattered throughout the text are excerpts from an elementary school student's own weather journal. These are not just temperature recordings—Grace explains the weather, including how rain and snow form, what fog is and how clouds can be used to predict weather. Budding meteorologists can use her journal as a template for their own, and will find her project ideas helpful. Billin-Frye's watercolors bring the past to life. Actual paintings by Howard and photos of the cloud types, along with a diagram, are included. An excellent combination of history and science, sure to spark the interest of future meteorologists. (Nonfiction. 7-12)Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 31, 2004

Peppered with quirky little boxed riddles ("What is a groundhog's favorite book? HOLES, by Louis Sachar"), this look at the major hole-digging animal in the eastern US delivers the facts and fun it promises. Readers learn that "groundhogs are woodchucks are whistle pigs are marmots," that groundhogs perform the important job of aerating earth and creating topsoil, and that "nothing gets wasted in nature." Along the way, they are entertained by Billin-Frye's lighthearted, comic watercolor illustrations of this denizen of the dirt in all his grime and glory, and by deftly delivered facts and figures (and party plans, complete with suggestions for games, shadow activities, food, and crafts) about groundhogs past and present and about the interesting evolution of Groundhog Day. A final page of riddles will leave readers grinning. (Picture book/nonfiction. 5-10)Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2003

Max gets his dreidel out of the drawer where it's been stashed since last year and the Hanukkah celebration begins. In iambic pentameter hinting of The House That Jack Built, Levine describes the preparations Max and his family make for the holiday: "This is the dreidel Max spins on the floor. / He hopes that he doesn't get ‘Nun' anymore." The final two pages wrap up the previous activities in a sweet reflection on the wonder of the eight days that have gone before and Max puts away the dreidel until next year. Appealing, cartoon-like drawings of Max and his warm, cozy family match the easy rhythm of the text. Glossary of terms included. (Picture book. 3-5)Read full book review >
Released: March 1, 2003

Utilizing the device of the familiar rhyme "Over in the Meadow," this new reconstruction features all the kinds of workers needed to build a house. A couple gets married and what's next? A house, of course. "Over in the meadow, with a bucket big and fine, / shoveled Charlie with a backhoe and strong diggers 9<\b>. / ‘Dig!' said Charlie. ‘We dig,' said the 9<\b>. / So they dug and dumped dirt with a bucket big and fine." Then counting down with 8 masons, 7 carpenters, 6 well drillers, 5 roofers, 4 plumbers, 3 electricians, 2 painters, and 1 inspector; finally a housewarming party and the couple beams with their own new addition: a baby. The cut-paper pictures are attractive and clearly demonstrate each phase. The rhymes could have been nailed down a bit tighter as some phrasing is a bit clumsy. The numbers in bold type will help kids with the countdown and the story might familiarize preschoolers with kinds of equipment and different procedures that are involved. This could have worked without the poem device as there is little else available in a picture-book format for this young audience other than Byron Barton's Building a House (1990), but the counting is fun and will give the audience a chance to chime in. (Picture book. 4-7)Read full book review >
THE WAY WE DO IT IN JAPAN by Geneva Cobb Iijima
Released: March 1, 2001

A well-intentioned but wooden story of a young boy who, with his American mother and Japanese father, is transplanted from the US to Japan. Gregory's father is sent to live in Japan by his business. Gregory's very enthusiastic about the move (indeed, strangely so, considering the magnitude of the change), yet he quickly learns that Japan is a quite different place: new—and not necessarily yummy—foods and schoolmates with whom he doesn't even share a language. And what a language: as explained in an appendix, there are three kinds of writing in the Japanese language and children learn all three. Little of this new life is presented with much verve—and the artwork, while interesting as set pieces, is decidedly wan; for either Gregory's sake or the reader's, it is just plopped in his lap. These are zabutons (a number of Japanese words are introduced, along with their pronunciation), this is a Japanese tub, Japanese children help keep their school clean, Japanese children have rice and fish for lunch, and Gregory feels conspicuous with his peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Gregory is neither cowed by his new environment, nor much energized by it. It is doubtless lifelike that Gregory spends most of his time simply trying to maintain his balance, though it doesn't make for compelling reading. Even the surprise lunch the school throws for Gregory has a pathetic feel to it, as if learning how they do it in Japan is going to be a long row to hoe for Gregory. (Picture book. 5-9)Read full book review >