Sunday, October 3, 2010

Zoe Hall

As we approached the month of September here on the North Shore of Massachusetts, Emmy and I wondered if Autumn would ever arrive. The heat crept its way into the middle of September and then WHAM, Autumn was here. There really wasn't much of a transition...80 degree weather to 50 degree weather practically overnight! And the wind...BRRR (temperatures feel more like 40 degrees)! Now I know what New Englanders mean by a Nor'Easterner!

With Autumn upon us, it was time to bring out our collection of books on the subject. We've posted about our favorite Autumn
books from last year here, but we have plenty more to share! It seems like the books that Emmy is enjoying the most this time around are all written by Zoe Hall! First up is It's Pumpkin Time with illustrations by Shari Halpern. This book is a pleasant celebration of Halloween and an excellent lesson on the science of how pumpkins grow.

"All summer long, my brother and I get ready for our favorite holiday.
Can you guess what it is? Halloween! And can you guess what
we do to get ready? We plant a jack-o'-lantern patch?"

Ms. Hall's text is simple and informative and Ms. Halpern's illustrations are vibrant and engaging. They make a great team! A great bonus is the last page where you can find a diagram of how a pumpkin seed grows underground.

Emmy and I recently went to the pumpkin patch to pick out our pumpkin. We brought along the book It's Pumpkin Time and read it before we set off into the pumpkin patch. Emmy was delighted to discover the vines that once held the pumpkins. She even tried to figure out which pumpkin stem went with which vine!

To prepare for carving our pumpkin into a jack-o'-lantern, Emmy
is using a washable black marker to draw different faces on
the pumpkin. With a damp cloth (or sponge), the marker wipes clean and the pumpkin is ready for a new look! We also keep a dry cloth near by. Another great way to practice a variety of faces for a jack-o'-lantern is to cut a pumpkin shape out of orange felt and then cut different eyes, noses, and mouths out of black felt. Voila - a Mr. Pumpkin Head!

Emmy has suggested that I add her favorite pumpkin finger play to this post so here it goes:

Five little pumpkins sitting on a gate.
The first one says, "Oh my it's getting late!"
The second one says, "There are witches in the air."
(OR "There is something in the air.")
The third one says, "But we don't care."
The fourth one says, "Let's run and run and run."
The fifth one says, "I'm ready for some fun."
Then whoosh went the wind and out went the lights
And the five little pumpkins rolled out of sight!

Second up is The Apple Pie Tree. Hall and Halpern team up again to create a wonderful tale that follows two sisters and an apple tree through the seasons.

"My sister and I have a tree that grows the best part of apple pie.
Can you guess what that is? Apples!
And every year, we watch our apple tree grow."

Also hidden among the tree's branches is a family of robins which shows the importance of the tree providing shelter for the birds. Emmy and I enjoy the last page where you will find a
diagram showing how bees help apples to grow and Zoe Hall's own recipe for making apple pie!

Apple picking season was early this year so we missed our opportunity to pick our own apples. However, Emmy enjoys going to the Farmer's Market and choosing an apple for a treat. Here she is biting through the skin of the apple and eating it whole - FINALLY!

Next up is Fall Leaves Fall! Once again Hall and Halpern create an autumn tale where two brothers anticipate their favorite season.

"All year long, my brother and I wait for our favorite
season to come. Can you guess what it is? FALL!
How do we know when fall is coming?
We watch the leaves."

The children watch the leaves, catch them, stomp them, kick them, collect them, compare them, rake them and jump into them!!! These activities as well as labeling the leaves and creating leaf pictures are all introduced and invites readers to do the same things! And of course the last page includes a diagram describing how leaves grow throughout the year.

Emmy and I recently went on a leaf collecting walk and talked about the
different types of leaves we found - mostly maple and oak. Emmy really wanted to find a Ginkgo leaf like in the book, but there are no Ginkgo trees in our neighborhood!

And finally, Surprise Garden. This Hall and Halpern story follows three children as they plant a garden...loosening the soil, poking seeds in one by one, watering the garden, and watching the small green shoots grow. Surprise!

"We're planting the seeds for a surprise garden.
Can you guess what we will grow?"

When it's harvest time, the children have a garden party to eat all their delicious produce. Following the pattern in all of Hall's and Halpern's books, the last page includes a helpful guide linking seeds to plants.

Speaking of harvest time...check out another one of our favorite Autumn books here and laugh along with Emmy to Big Anthony's antics in the book Strega Nona's Harvest by Tomie dePaola. Also check out this post if you are interested in gardening with your child. Included is the delightful book How Groundhog's Garden Grew which is a wonderful book for Thanksgiving.

Emmy and her classmates planted bulbs outside of their school last week.
We are looking forward to a spring surprise of daffodils and tulips!

Lastly, here is one of Emmy's beautiful pieces of Autumn art. So easy to make!!!! Emmy's favorite part...tearing the paper into small pieces.

Happy Autumn everyone!

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