Sunday, April 25, 2010

Seven Hungry Babies

Any mom who has had that feeling of total exhaustion from taking care of little ones all day long will treasure the book, Seven Hungry Babies, by Candace Fleming with illustrations by Eugene Yelchin.

In this story a mother bird coos as she flies hither and thither finding food for her young brood. "Feed us! Feed us!" the little ones shout. Mama Bird brings back delicacies such as a cricket, a cherry, a pea pod and an earthworm to satisfy her hungry babies. After each baby bird eats, he or she falls into a peaceful sleep. It is the mother who goes from sweet and patient... "Of course, my precious cuddle fluffs." to tired and impatient... "Hush, you little egg-crackers." When all seven babies are quiet and napping in the nest, Mama Bird settles down for some rest of her own only to hear, "Peep! Peep! Peep!" Her answer to their calls is my favorite part of the story. "Oh, no, not this time," Mama Bird chirps..."It's Daddy's turn to fly." Emmy joins in when the Mama Bird flies off to find food as the words are repetitive and associated with the sound of her flying, "Flappa-flap, swoop-swoop, zoom-zoom, yum!" as well as when the baby bird says, "G-u-u-u-l-p!"

As I've mentioned in previous posts (here and here), books make great gifts for a new mama or a new papa. This book is a definite must as I feel that Ms. Fleming and Mr. Yelchin are spot-on in their interpretation of the daily life of a mom with her kiddos.

Monday, April 12, 2010


We recently went to the New England Aquarium and were absolutely enamored with the penguins. They have a wonderful exhibit where you can watch the penguins race through the water and hang out on the rocks. Imitating the penguin's walk is a favorite pastime - waddle, waddle. On our next trip to the library, Emmy and I decided to find a book about penguins. Although we were looking for a non fiction book, we ended up coming home with Penguins, by Liz Pichon, and couldn't be more delighted. Penguins is the story of a group of penguins who live a fairly predictable life at the zoo: swim, eat fish, play penguin games, sleep standing up, look at people and look at more people. An ordinary day turns extraordinary when a little girl drops something into the penguin's pen.

After all the people have gone, a little penguin notices something. "DON'T TOUCH IT!" says his mother. "Somebody will be back for it." But nobody comes back. The little penguin moves closer for a better look. He goes over and picks it up. "It's a camera!" says the little penguin. "What do you do with a camera?" the other penguins ask. "You smile at it!" says the little penguin, grinning.

The best part of this book, according to Emmy, is the viewfinder page where the little penguin looks through the camera lens, puts his flipper on the button and says, "Everyone look at me
and say FISH!" The penguins are hilarious as they "ham it up" for the camera until it stops working (think back to the days of a film, rather than a digital, camera). The little penguin puts it back where he found it. When the zookeeper comes across it, he takes it to the lost and found where it is returned to the little girl with a few peck marks. A few days later the pictures are developed and what a surprise! Emmy LOVES the set of photographs at the end of the book and you will too!!!!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Princess Peepers

Emmy and I cannot get enough of Princess Peepers! As a Mom, it is such a relief to read about a princess who is not perfect. This princess wears glasses and she has quite a collection! There are bug glasses for Peeper's annual bug hunt and sparkly ones to go with her Halloween costume. Emmy's favorite pair of glasses is Peeper's rose-colored pair that matches her rose-colored roller skates. It isn't until Princess Peepers enters The Royal Academy of Perfect Princesses that she realizes that wearing glasses is not a fashionable choice, at least according to the other princesses in attendance.

Emmy has such empathy for Peepers as the other princesses say such unkind things to her. "That's not very nice!" she proclaims as we read the reactions of the other princesses to Peepers glasses. These reactions cause the Princess to go back to her room and dump all of her glasses into a trunk. She is determined to show the other princesses that she doesn't need to wear glasses, but instead makes quite a few mistakes as she tries to get along without being able to see. With great humor, Pam Calvert and Tuesday Mourning, help Peeper and the reader to understand that trying to go through life as something that you are not is going to cause quite a few obstacles. I remember resisting my glasses when I was a young girl and could often be found squinting in order to see clearly. I for one am glad that Ms. Calvert has taken on this important topic and created a princess that we can relate to. And the ending of this story doesn't disappoint for the prince also wears glasses and when the two bump into each other, "It was love at first sight...after they put on their glasses!"

There are quite a few expressions that Emmy and I have borrowed from Princess Peepers such as, "Holy pumkins," "Jeepers," "Oh, fairydust," "Holy glass-slippers," "Oh, magic-mirrors." Any one of these can be heard throughout our house whenever we stumble, drop something or bump into each other. It's cause for some serious belly laughs. On a recent trip to Boston, Emmy donned her pink sunglasses and proclaimed herself Princess Peepers!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Millie's Marvellous Hat

Visits to our local library are a weekly event for Emmy and me. It is so wonderful to watch Emmy say hello to the librarians and carefully return the books to the book slot. Even better is the obvious joy she has scanning the shelves and choosing new books to place into her library bag. This picture shows just how comfortable she is at the library. We can spend hours there. Also important to point out is the satisfaction she feels in knowing that Fridays are library day. Creating a routine that is predictable allows your child to feel safe. Emmy measures her life by the order of events in it so our routine helps her make sense of her world and develop a sense of security as well as independence.

On our last visit to the library, Emmy disovered the book Millie's
Marvellous Hat written and illustrated by Satoshi Kitamura. It is the story of a little girl who comes across a hat shop as she is walking home from school. She admires the hat with colored feathers and goes inside to try it on. My favorite character is the hat shop clerk. He exudes a stiff, formal manner and has the best little mustache!

"May I see the hat with the colorful feathers, please?' she asked the man behind the counter. 'Certainly, Madam,' replied the man, and he fetched the hat from the window. Millie tried it on. It suited her perfectly. 'I'll take it,' she said. 'An excellent choice, Madam,' said the man. 'That will be five hundred and ninety-nine dollars and ninety-nine cents.' Millie opened her purse and looked inside. 'Oh, dear,' she said. 'Do you have anything cheaper?' 'What sort of price were you thinking of, Madam?' asked the man kindly. 'Well...about this much,' said Millie and showed him her purse. It was empty. 'I see...' muttered the man, and he looked up at the ceiling."

What happens next is so endearing. The clerk goes to the back of the shop and returns with a hat box. He opens it with a flourish and with great care places a hat on Millie's head.

"This is a most marvellous hat, Madam." said the man. "It can be any size, shape or color you wish. All you have to do is imagine it."

Emmy and I love the way the clerk and the little girl pretend together as the hat is just imaginary, but the exchange between the two continues to be a formal affair. As Millie walks home, she imagines her hat to be many different things: a peacock hat, a flowery hat, a fountain hat. Emmy's favorite is Millie's cake hat! I love it when Emmy walks around the house pretending she is wearing a cupcake hat or an ice cream hat!

After reading a bit about Satoshi Kitamura, I am anxious to take a look at the book Once Upon an Ordinary School Day which is a collaboration between Kitamura and Colin McNaughton. It is the tale of an 'ordinary' child and an inspirational teacher. I believe this story will speak to my past life as a primary school teacher!

Taking some inspiration from Millie, Emmy and I will imagine our different hats as we walk to the library today.

"Limitations live only in our minds.
But if we use our imaginations,
our possibilities become limitless."
Jamie Paolinetti