Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Friday, December 4, 2009
Sunday, November 29, 2009
The collection is organized by age group from board books to young adult novels and features informed reviews of each entry by a team of international critics complete with beautifully reproduced artwork from the featured titles. Whether you are a parent seeking to instill a love of reading in your child, an educator looking for inspiration, or a young reader with a voracious appetite, this guide covers the best of the best in children’s literature. You will find beloved classics such as Goodnight Moon and Where the Wild Things Are as well as works from around the world such as Jamela's Dress (a modern South African tale) and Anancy Spiderman (Caribbean versions of the spider trickster tales)
Providing the preface for this book is acclaimed children's book writer Quentin Blake who was appointed as Britain's first Children's Laureate.
but there are glitterings of gold all through their history, and
Julia Eccleshare's book sifts out a thousand and one for us."
Two more wonderful resources to help with choosing children's books are:
Let me conclude this post with a quote from "Becoming a Nation of Readers" a national report by the Commision on Reading:
"The single most important activity for building the knowledge
required for eventual success is reading aloud to children."
Thursday, November 19, 2009
This beautiful story is written by Margaret Baker & JP Matott and follows the memory of an old woman as she reveals her past dreams. She is seen dancing The Nutcracker, painting in Paris (a favorite page for Emmy), living in a castle surrounded by a moat, being the archaeologist to uncover the tomb of the five kings, and restoring law in the Wild West. As the dream-telling is told, the reader may catch a glimpse of some mementos of the girl's adventures, bringing to question whether or not those dreams came true, but leaving no doubt that the woman still dreams.
I love this little tidbit about how Mr. Ludy got started drawing (excerpted from Mark Ludy's bio on his website).
You know how children can never sit still in a restaurant – always squirming around asking every two minutes when the food is coming. Well, clever Dad Ludy used to draw something on a paper napkin – like eyeballs or a goofy grin – and then passed the napkin to Mark, who added something else to it – maybe the nose with lots of hair and warts. The two passed the napkin back and forth until they had finished the drawing. The drawings always became a competition with Mark and his dad each trying to beat the other by making the funniest part of the picture. And, that’s how Dad Ludy showed Mark how much fun drawing can be. Boy! Did he have fun with it. He even went as far as making his homework look like works of art – handing in assignments with little scenes on the side of the page – like people climbing up the side with bears waiting hungrily at the top.
Inspire the heart of the special boy or girl in your life by adding one or both of these books to his or her personal library.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
With our one year anniversary came an official request to review a book on our blog. We said yes, of course, and waited anxiously for the book to arrive. As luck would have it, Emmy checked the mail the day we received the book and eagerly helped tear open the package to see "our blogging book." She immediately giggled at the picture of the truck on the front cover wearing a hat and a monocle!
The book for review is titled Colonel Trash Truck and is written by Kathleen Crawley with illustrations by Manuel Conde. Any child interested in garbage trucks and helping to keep his community clean will enjoy marching along to Colonel Trash Truck's cadence:
He sweeps and sweeps
To keep our neighborhood clean.
From dawn to dusk,
Clean up he must
To make our world stay green.
As is often the case with books pertaining to the environment, the message is usually a bit too difficult for the young ones to understand, but Ms. Crawley has created a likeable hero that children can definitely relate to. Emmy is excited to be a part of Colonel Trash Truck's Clean and Green Team and can be heard saying "Karunch!" when she puts trash into the garbage can. Captain Michael Recycle will be joining Colonel Trash Truck in future books as they work together to defeat Litterbug Louie! For an introduction to Colonel Trash Truck, check out this video as well the website. It will have you marching right out into your community to pick up any trash that you see!
Friday, October 30, 2009
The book Besh picked out is a big hit with Emmy! We read it first thing in the morning, before naptime, after naptime and at bedtime. The book is treasured not only because it's from her best friend, but also because it takes her on a wonderful adventure to a faraway place.
Katie in London, by James Mayhew, is a creatively written travel guide through the city of London. Katie, along with her grandmother and little brother, Jack, set off to see the sights of the city beginning with Trafalgar Square. Upon arriving at the square, Katie's grandmother sits down to rest and asks the children to stay near the lion statue. With the morning sun, the lion awakens to find the children climbing on him. The children ask the lion to show them the sights so off they go visiting such places as Tower Bridge, the London Eye, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace and Harrods department store. Besh's Mommy included photos of his trip for Emmy to compare with the illustrations. Matching the photos with the illustrations is a favorite activity for Emmy. And if asked what her favorite part of the story is, she will say when the lion opens his package from Katie and Jack and finds a woolly blanket.
When James Mayhew was a boy in school he was often told to stop daydreaming. Thankfully his daydreams didn't stop and instead have helped him to create a series of books about Katie. These books masterfully weave art, ballet, opera and literature into Katie's adventures. Each story is brilliantly written allowing a child to feel as if they too are experiencing the wonders that Katie is so joyfully experiencing. When asked where the idea for Katie came from, Mr. Mayhew replied, "Obviously my sister Kate was an inspiration! But also, I remember my parents had a big 'coffee table' book called Art Treasures of the World, which I still have to this day. It had all the usual art from Pre-historic man through the Renaissance to Impressionism and to Picasso and the Twentieth Century. I had no idea what the paintings were about; I couldn't read. But the paintings were illustrations to me, and I imagined the stories that belonged with them." Who would have thought that looking through an old book of art would be so important to a little child?
Also a huge inspiration for Mr. Mayhew's work are childhood memories. Here is a photo taken of a five year old James with his mischievious seven year old sister, Katie, in front of one of the lions of Trafalgar Square. James recalls spending the entire day in London with his family which was quite an event since they lived in a tiny village miles from anywhere.
From daydream to reality, Mr. Mayhew's first book in the Katie series, Katie's Picture Show, follows a small, lively girl and her grandmother as they visit a London art gallery on a rainy afternoon. When Grandma sits down to rest, Katie continues to explore the gallery's wonders alone. To her surprise and amusement, she stumbles inside painting after painting. As a result, she enjoys a cup of tea with Ingres' Madame Moitessier, befriends the little girl in Renoir's Les Parapluies, explores Rousseau's Tropical Storm with a Tiger, and marvels at the contents of an abstract painting by Malevich before being rescued, finally, by a gallery guard.
Emmy and I cannot say enough fantastic things about James Mayhew and his Katie books. If anyone is planning a trip to London then be sure to get a copy of Katie in London beforehand and use it to prepare for the trip as well as keeping it handy as a guide to the city. If you'd like to learn more about the author and his books check out Mr. Mayhew's blog Katie's Picture Show. Emmy and I are very excited to begin reading about Ella Bella Ballerina and follow her adventures into the world of music and dance. For more information, go to Mr. Mayhew's other blog Ella Bella Ballerina.
Friday, October 23, 2009
1) The princess had no interest in trading in her "royal diaper" for a potty. Emmy quite eagerly disposed of her
3) The king and queen were mortified of what the neighbors in the next kingdom might think of their daughter still wearing a diaper. Emmy's mommy and daddy weren't so concerned about what others thought.
When the princess's desperate parents consult the royal wise man, he answers that "the princess will use the potty when it pleases her to use the potty.'' These are very wise words and ring very true for Emmy who was definitely ready.
Emmy's favorite part of the story is when the princess notices the queen's pantalettes under her dress. This is her favorite for two reasons. First the word pantalettes is just so fun to say and second the pantalettes are very, very pretty. The pantalettes prove to be the incentive the princess needed as she and her mother chose "the prettiest pair of pantalettes in the land - pantalettes fit for a princess!''
Amusingly understated, The Princes and the Potty conveys the tale's message brilliantly through art and text. Both children who are new to toilet learning and seasoned pros will be thoroughly amused by this royal tale.
For the boys out there, Ms. Lewison also wrote The Prince and the Potty. This time the royal wise man suggests getting the boy a puppy. As the puppy learns how to to do its business on a cloth, the prince is inspired to use his potty after all.
Monday, October 19, 2009
There are a large number of books written about Autumn and many are favorites, but to help those that get overwhelmed with a long list (I'm mostly speaking about myself), Emmy and I would like to focus on just two.
The first is by Tasha Tudor who I mentioned in a previous post as one of our favorite authors. Written in 1938, Pumpkin Moonshine is a sweet Halloween story about a little girl, named Sylvie, who is searching for the perfect pumpkin to carve into a pumpkin moonshine (jack-o-lantern). Emmy laughs when the pumpkin rolls down the hill and bumps into Mr. Hemmelskamp! This weekend, we will be choosing our pumpkin to turn into a pumpkin moonshine. Emmy has drawn her ideas for the pumpkin moonshine's face and already has chosen the spoons that she will be using to scoop out the seeds and pulp.
Our second favorite Autumn book is Three Pebbles and a Song written by Eileen Spinelli. Known for her poetry, Eileen's words float off the pages beginning with... "Across the moonlit fields crackly old leaves twirled and skittered." Please, please, please read this story with your child and allow the conversation of how children contribute to their family's happiness, in their own special way, just as Moses the mouse contributed to his. Moses' contributions for winter may not have been practical, but through song, dance and juggling, Moses helped his family embrace their own creativity so much so that only Moses detects the arrival of spring. I love the subtle message of celebrating art's powers to invigorate and to sustain. Emmy likes when Moses finds a patch of pebbles and tosses them into the air, Catch-a-toss-catch.
I am always interested in how authors get their ideas for books and so would like to pass along how Eileen came up with the story for Three Pebbles and a Song.
I thought about my playful--but unsuccessful--attempts at juggling.
And I put the thoughts into words. And it was a good day."
If you are interested in developing your child's love for poetry, try this...Make copies of seasonal poems for your child and roll them up scroll-like and tie with a ribbon - orange for Autumn, red for Valentine's Day, etc. Lay the scroll beside your child's bed or on their breakfast plate and make the finding a true celebration. Jump for joy, light a candle and have a special poetry reading. Keep the poems in a binder or folder to go back to on a cold and rainy day.
By the way, Eileen's husband is also a writer! Check out Jerry Spinelli's book Stargirl (suitable for tweens and teens) - a story about a high school student who is startlingly different from everyone else. If you're like me, you'll LOVE Stargirl, given name Susan, and maybe even be inclined to start a Stargirl Society.
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
As Emmy and I explore a New England autumn, we are in awe of the magic that seems to occur overnight. We like to think that it is the fairies with tiny pots of paint and paint brushes that create such magnificent colored leaves in the trees.
Emmy's favorite fall activity is apple picking. She delights in finding the most perfect apple to add to her bag. I must say I agree, it is so peaceful in an apple orchard. And what delight I have watching my daughter actually eat an apple down to its core.
And if the juicy apples aren't enough, just wait for the cider donuts - DELICIOUS! Just made, hot-out-of-the-oil apple cider donuts are, without a doubt, one of the guilty pleasures of the season. Coupled with freshly pressed apple cider and you are in heaven.
A wonderful book to share during this season is Apple Farmer Annie by Monica Wellington. Follow along as Annie harvests her apples and uses them to make a variety of tasty items such as apple cider, applesauce, muffins, candied apples, cakes and pies. Annie takes her apples and apple products to "The Big Apple" where she is part of a farmers market. Annie's produce, pies and the rest, are a big hit! Wellington has added information and lessons in many of the bright cheery pictures. beginning with the life cycle of an apple, apples arranged in groups from one to ten which provides an opportunity to practice counting and another page showing apples sorted according to variety. The author concludes the story by sharing recipes for applesauce, apple muffins and applesauce cake with butter frosting.
Which recipe does Emmy want to try...Applesauce Cake! With apples collected from today's field trip, we are ready to make this delicious treat. If you'd like to do the same, here's the recipe:
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)
1/2 teaspoon allspice (optional)
1 cup applesauce
2/3 cup raisins
*Cream together butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl.
*Add eggs and beat well.
*In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, salt, and spices.
*Add to creamed mixture alternately with applesauce, beating after each addition and blending well.
*Stir in raisins.
*Pour batter into 9-inch greased tube pan.
*Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes or until browned. (toothpick inserted into cake should come out clean.)
*Cool, then spread with Butter Frosting (see recipe below).
2 tablespoons softened butter
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons milk
*Cream together butter, sugar, and vanilla extract.
*Add milk and stir well.
*The frosting should be smooth and easy to spread.
Since we love Apple Farmer Annie, Emmy and I will be going to the library to check out a few more Monica Wellington books. Perhaps we'll start with these: Pizza at Sally's and Mr. Cookie Baker.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
When I was teaching second grade in Laconia, New Hampshire, I had the opportunity to meet Tracy Kane when she participated in an author visit at our school. She was simply delightful. She engaged the students in a reading of her first book Fairy Houses, shared some of her story boards, encouraged the students to build their own fairy houses and autographed books. My students brought in many fantastic items found in nature and set to work immediately on creating the most fanciful fairy houses ever. This experience stuck with me and I've been waiting for that just right moment to engage Emmy in this experience. Today was that day! She is always busy collecting things from nature, but today she was creating a pile out of the sticks she had picked up. The sticks were looking very much like little houses and so we began our journey into the world of fairies!
As soon as we got home, I brought out my signed copy of Fairy Houses. Since Emmy wanted to know where the fairies were and when they would visit her house, I knew I had better share this book right away. As the main character, Kristen, builds her fairy house, many forest creatures visit from a bird helping himself to the berries carefully placed around the front, to a frog frolicking in the rock pond, to a deer licking the salt from the carefully placed seashells. Finally, a visit from the fairies........or were they just beautiful butterflies. It's for the reader to decide. Emmy and I know for a fact that the fairies will visit her house! And I'm sure we will be checking this special house out tomorrow to look for any signs of visitors.
If you would like to build your own fairy house, keep these rules in mind:
1. Fairy Houses should look so natural they are almost hidden. A location close to the ground is best.
2. You should use only natural materials. Dry grasses, leaves, sticks, pebbles and pinecones are just a few examples of materials to choose.
3. Be careful not to use or disturb any of nature's materials that are still living, especially flowers, ferns, mosses and lichen. Fairies do not like to disturb or destroy anything that is growing in nature.
Check out Tracy Kane's website for more information along with some pretty amazing photographs of fairy houses that are sure to inspire.
I can't think of any better way to spend a morning, then out in nature with your child(ren).
Monday, September 7, 2009
In 1987, the US House of Representatives and Senate passed a bill proposed by Democratic Representative John Conyers, Jr. to define jazz as a unique form of American music stating, among other things, "...that jazz is hereby designated as a rare and valuable national American treasure to which we should devote our attention, support and resources to make certain it is preserved, understood and promulgated."
As jazz is such an important part of our American history, take this opportunity to introduce this sound to your child through the Baby Loves Jazz Series! I guarantee that he or she will be groovin' to some wonderful music as well as enjoying some wonderful books. By the way the name Baby Loves Jazz is misleading. These books are great for all ages!
Charlie "Bird" Parker
Philly Joe Jones