Sunday, March 29, 2009

Bear Snores On

It was over a year ago when Emmy and I checked the book Bear Snores On out of the public library. I remembered how enjoyable it was to read this book to a group of second graders, but wasn't sure about an almost two year old. Well, the book was such a hit that we checked it out again several times and then finally purchased it along with the second book in the series Bear Wants More. Both of these books are currently back in the read aloud rotation at our house and, I must say, are even more fun since Emmy is really connecting to the stories.

The author, Karma Wilson, brilliantly writes this series of books completely in rhyme only stopping to repeat a key phrase such as "But the bear snores on." and "But the bear wants more!" Each book gives lots of opportunities to expand the read aloud experience by creating funny voices and exaggerating words like growl, squeak, blubber and Emmy's favorite "RAAAAA - CHOO OOOO!!!!" which follows the text "Hare stokes the fire. Mouse seasons stew. Then a small pepper flake makes the bear..."

And just as important to the book reading experience are the magnificent illustrations drawn by Jane Chapman - WOW! Each character is alive with personality and charm. You really feel like you could just walk right into the pictures and join in all of the fun.

For Christmas, Emmy received Bear Stays Up For Christmas and once again we found ourselves joyfully immersed in Bear's world. We will slowly add the other three books in the series to our home library and look forward to the next Bear book!

Karma Wilson has a great website so if you'd like to find out more about her and the other books she's written for children, check it out here!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Sow and Grow: A Gardening Book for Children

Oh my goodness, where have these books been hiding! I have been collecting books for children for quite some time now and am always on the lookout for a vintage book in superb shape. Recently, I found the next best thing - a brand new book with a vintage look. I discovered Sow and Grow: A Gardening Book for Children and was instantly "in love." Just feeling the cover of the book was enough to send tingles up my arms. As soon as I got home, I searched and found out that this book was just one in a series of three books. JACKPOT! See and Sew: A Sewing Book for Children and Look and Cook: A Cookbook for Children are the other titles in the series. All of the books are beautifully bound and filled with the most endearing vintage artwork. Each book is filled with wonderful tips on how to bring gardening, sewing and cooking into your child's life. These charming books would make a very thoughtful and wonderful gift to anyone with a love for the home and all of its craftiness. I know these three books will hold a special place on our bookshelf and am looking forward to exploring each of the them with Emmy.

I wish that I could find out more about the author of these books, but at the moment all that Google will tell me is that there is someone else with the same name receiving a whole lot more press thanks to the whole Chris Brown/Rhianna thing. I do know that Tina Davis is a graphic designer and created Tina Davis Design. She holds an MFA from Yale and a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design. Ms. Davis lives in Israel and the USA. Well, this is just not enough for an author junkie such as myself. I want to know much, much more like how these books came to fruition. I will continue to search and hope that another book will come out soon!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A Time to Keep

A Time to Keep is a delightful book of holidays that begins when a little girl asks, "Granny, what was it like when Mummy was me?" Tasha Tudor gives us a year's worth of wonderful holiday traditions from her life in New England. Quotations from literature charmingly open each month along with beautiful borders that surround each page's nostalgic illustrations depicting family celebrations. Beginning with brown and frozen grasses and flowers decorated with icicles, the borders show the changes of season as each month progresses. The flowers bud and send out catkins, then blossoms, then flowers and leaves, then fruits, all in splendid realistic detail. With the delicious foods, the antics of the children, the activities and games, the decorations, the weather, the homespun plays and puppet shows, and the joyful seasonal work, Tasha Tudor warmly invites us to engage in the fun as she rekindles our own memories of childhood. What fun it is to see big families caught up in living through the wonders of the wheel of the year. Equally important to the holidays are the birthdays, the county fairs, cider and maple syrup making time. Tasha Tudor's own experience of the people and animals of her childhood grace the lovely pages and offer us a glimpse into lives that are filled with love and wonder and appreciation for the beautiful and gentle nuances of living the good life. Simplicity and tradition make the holidays magical and ask us to re-examine how we celebrate our traditional holidays. Materialism is replaced by creativity and family participation. The focus is on love, comfort, and gratitude rather than excessive "partying." This book is truly a treat and is guaranteed to help put whatever holidays you celebrate into thoughtful perspective.

I become completely swept over by nostalgia and longing every time I look at this spectacular book. I find myself yearning for the life depicted in Tudor's scenes. Even though Emmy is a bit young to fully appreciate this book, I will continue to reach for it on the first of every month and share with her the wonder and secrets that each month holds.

To learn more about the life of Tasha Tudor, please visit her family's website:

Sunday, March 22, 2009


Let me introduce you to Bobo. A loveable chimp who is just the right mix of silly and serious.

Bobo searches for
his very own embrace.

Bobo says "yes, yes"
to bathtime and
"no, no"
to bedtime.

Bobo feels
secure in being

Emmy LOVES Bobo. Just the other day we were out enjoying dinner when Emmy got down from her chair and went to her Daddy and said "Tall!" He put her up on his shoulder. She then got down and came over to me and said "Hug!" and gave me the biggest squeeze. She continued to do this for several minutes and despite stares from other diners, we let her. You would too if you saw the smile on her face as she reenacted the stories of Bobo. Jez Alborough, the author and illustrator, has this to say about his first Bobo book titled Hug.

"In my book Hug it became clear to me that my story was best told by the pictures (I cut the text down to only three words!) This meant that the pictures had to carry most of the story development. The expressions on the character’s faces, the body language, the colours, the compositions all had to work together to give the information which the child would need to engage emotionally with the twists and turns of the story."

Jez Alborough successfully conveys important topics in a young child's life in all three of his books (Hug, Tall, Yes) about Bobo through the use of very few words and wonderfully drawn pictures. I believe most parenting experts agree that fewer words create more meaningful interactions with children so hats off to Mr. Alborough and his cute chimp Bobo.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

It's Spring

Having grown up in the Midwest, the seasons hold special memories for me. I will never forget the look and feel of the first snow of winter or the beauty of the leaves in autumn. In Central Texas, the seasons are much more subtle. I try very hard to make Emmy aware of what is happening in nature on a daily basis. Now that spring is upon us, we are noticing that the trees that were bare in winter are blooming! This causes much excitement on our nature walks. The best part of spring in our area are the wildflowers that slowly take over the hillsides - absolutely gorgeous!

With the spirit of spring running through our veins, I introduced Emmy to the book It's Spring by Samantha Berger and Pamela Chanko. To quote the back of the book, "The robin tells the rabbit, the rabbit tells the deer, the deer tells the bunny, and before long, everyone knows...It's Spring!" This story was originally published in 2000 as a paperback and is now a charming board book. The whimsical animals help create the stir of excitement of all the newness that the season of spring brings with it. The rhyming text is great for very young children and since it is so easy to chime right in, perfect for those children who are beginning to read.

Another wonderful read for springtime is the clevery written board book Chicky Chicky Chook Chook by Cathy MacLennan. Onomatopoeia abounds in this story featuring chicks, bumblebees and kittens as they go about their adventurous day. "Pitter, patter. Pit. Pit. Patter. Splitter, splatter. Wet. Wet. Wetter. CRASH! BANG! WALLOP!" is an example of MacLennan's use of sound words that just need to be read, sung and shouted all at the same time.

What I love best about my newly turned three year old is her absolute joy in the sounds that words make. I hear Emmy making use of words she has heard and creating her own rhymes to sing along to. One of Emmy's favorite songs is Kookaburra. She has been humming and singing this song so often lately, I thought I would share it with you.

Oh, and in case you are wondering:
*a kookaburra is an Australian bird
*a "gum tree" is what is also known as a eucalyptus
*the "gum drops" that the kookaburra eats in the song are beads of the resinous sap

Kookaburra (written in 1936 by Marion Sinclair)

Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree
Merry, merry king of the bush is he
Laugh, Kookaburra! Laugh, Kookaburra!
Gay your life must be

Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree
Eating all the gum drops he can see
Stop, Kookaburra! Stop, Kookaburra!
Leave some there for me

Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree
Counting all the monkeys he can see
Stop, Kookaburra! Stop, Kookaburra!
That's not a monkey that's me

Check out KIDdiddles for the tune!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Byron Barton

Emmy's first introduction to books in a series was Byron Barton's collection focused on transportation. Found in the series are the books: Boats, Planes, Trains, and Trucks. Each one features bright, bold illustrations which grace Byron's simple text. These four books remained Emmy's favorites for quite a while. One or all of them could be found in the diaper bag at all times. We may have given up the diaper bag, but not the books. These and others are carried with us everywhere. They can be found in Mommy's purse, in the car, in the snack bag and even on occasion in Daddy's pocket. We may be in trouble when the weight of a Harry Potter book comes our way, but for now books are easy to transport. There are many more Byron Barton books that are just as enjoyable especially for children who are interested in how things work. Check out My Car, Machines at Work or I Want to be an Astronaut. For Emmy her next favorite book by Barton is his version of The Three Bears. She enjoys looking for the flowers that Goldilocks left strewn throughout the Bears' home.

I cannot say enough about finding an author or illustrator that your child loves and then spending the time really getting into the books. Your child will recognize this author or illustrator everywhere books are found and sometimes places they are not. Emmy relates all sorts of everyday sights back to Byron Barton's books and because of this I am truly grateful to him and his work.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Cookie's Week

Emmy is very interested in the days of the week. She keeps track of the weekdays by noting what special activity will be happening at school (Mondays - gymnastics, Wednesdays - yoga, Fridays - sing-song, etc.) and she knows weekends because Mommy sleepily enters her bedroom still dressed in pajamas with thoughts of coffee floating in her head.

Cookie's Week is a wonderful book to help reinforce the concept of the days of the week. Emmy is delighted by the cat's antics in the story especially when Cookie falls into the toilet. "Silly cat!" she exclaims each time we read that page. Tomie dePaola's watercolor illustrations compliment Cindy Ward's simple text wonderfully. The book leaves you wondering if Cookie really will rest on Sunday?

Another terrific (and very silly) book about the days of the week is Eric Carle's version of the traditional song Today is Monday. Emmy's favorite page is Wednesday when soup (Zoooooop) is on the menu. Here is a great video of a class of children singing the song with motions. Emmy and I will have so much fun performing this song.

It's always fun to include music in the daily routine. Emmy and I are often singing at the top of our lungs in the car. Here are two songs to help with learning the days of the week.

Days of the Week (to the tune of "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star")
Sunday, Monday, Tuesday too.
Wednesday, Thursday just for you.
Friday, Saturday that's the end .
Now let's say those days again!
Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday!

Days of the Week (to the tune of "The Adams Family")
Days of the week, (snap snap)
Days of the week, (snap snap)
Days of the week,
Days of the week,
Days of the week. (snap snap)

There's Sunday and there's Monday,
There's Tuesday and there's Wednesday,
There's Thursday and there's Friday,
And then there's Saturday.

Days of the week, (snap snap)
Days of the week, (snap snap)
Days of the week,
Days of the week,
Days of the week. (snap snap)