Saturday, June 20, 2009

Ellison the Elephant

"Okay. Okay. Now, close your eyes and look inside. When you find your voice, let it out..." Ellison had no idea what a voice should look like, but he closed his eyes and looked inside... and looked... and looked... until... he found it!

Sending the message to our children of how extraordinary they are is extremely important and the folks over at Kidwick Books have just such a message in mind. Ellison the Elephant is the story of a young elephant who cannot make a normal trumpet blast like the other elephants in his herd. With the help of his mother and his imaginary friend, Weasel, Ellison finds his own unique trumpet blast. Emmy enjoys this story immensely especially with her Mommy making all kinds of trumpet sounds. The best thing about this book is that it comes with an audio CD with wonderful narration and jazzy music. Listening to stories in the car is one of our favorite things to do and this CD is fabulous! For a demo click here!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Britta Teckentrup

Emmy and I are so excited to share an author and illustrator that we just discovered - Britta Teckentrup. She is certainly not new to children's books having illustrated quite a few books for other authors as well as a popular concept series for toddlers (colors, shapes, ABC, first words).

But the book that made Emmy stop in her tracks and say "Read this one, Mommy!" was Big Smelly Bear. As we sat down to read the book, Emmy was immediately fascinated wanting to know what was flying around the bear and why he was smelly. My intuition as a Mommy and a teacher was telling me that this book was going to be a winner! With graphic illustrations that are beautifully simple, the reader is drawn into the storyline of a bear who is perfectly happy being smelly until he starts to itch! This is Emmy's favorite part of the story as Big Smelly Bear tries to find something to help with this terrible itch. "He tried scratching his back with a tree branch. But that made the itch even itchier." Along comes Big Fluffy Bear who persuades Big Smelly Bear to take a bath. The interaction between the two bears is hysterical as it reminds me of myself persuading Emmy that it is time to take a bath. Maybe I'll try the Big Smelly Emmy tactic next time!

Teckentrup follows up Big Smelly Bear with How Big is the World? and Grumpy Cat.
Emmy noticed that Grumpy Cat ended similarly to Big Smelly Bear where both characters decide to make a change for the better...or do they? Watching the kitten befriend the cat is just precious. My favorite of the three selections is How Big is the World? If I could enter the mind of a very young child, I think that this question would sum up the wonderment of all that surrounds her. A piece of advice that I hold very close to my heart is to remember that Emmy has only been in this world for three years. Expectations are so overwhelming at 42, I can't imagine what it must feel like at the age of three. I just want Emmy to relish every moment! A lesson that I desperately need to learn.

I would also like to mention that Britta Teckentrup has another spectacular series out that I will introduce to Emmy soon. There are three so far with my first choice being Big Noisy Book of Vehicles since Emmy is so curious about planes, trains and automobiles.
I love the way the book is layed out with bright, bold and beautiful images. It reminds me of the Richard Scarry book Cars and Trucks and Things That Go only a bit more organized. Each colorful spread features a different environment and the forms of transport that zip through it, from bicycles on the sidewalk to rockets in outer space. The text is simply irresistible to read aloud, with plenty of honks, clatter-clanks, and creak-squeaks to call out. And making it extra-wonderful is the inclusion of an animated DVD packaged right into the front cover. The DVD lasts fifteen minutes, has over 100 sound effects, and captures Britta’s subtle humor and childlike sense of play. If vehicles aren't your thing, look for the other two books in the series: Big Noisy Book of Animals and Big Noisy Book of Dinosaurs.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Dear Zoo

Oh, the many things we find under the seats in the car! Usually it's coins that Emmy enjoys adding to her coin collection, but the other day it was a forgotten book. I am so fussy when it comes to books that I could not believe that I had allowed this one, Dear Zoo, to be lost for so long! Emmy was delighted to discover this book and wanted it to be read to her right away. Thankfully I was in a "slow parenting" state of mind and happily obliged (even though the clock was ticking!).

This experience reminded me of the importance of reintroducing books to children. We usually rotate the books in Emmy's book boxes bringing back out the ones she enjoyed previously even the ones she enjoyed as a baby. As children continue on the road to literacy, it is important to provide familiar books (ones that you might think are too easy or babyish) for them. These books will provide early reading practice in a very supportive way.

A bit about the book Dear was published in 1982 and over the years has become firmly established as a classic for children under the age of 5. The story is about a child who writes to the zoo for a pet. The zoo sends a series of unsuitable pets revealed behind flaps in the form of crates and packing cases. These animals are all sent back for various reasons, except the last one, which is perfect!

To celebrate the 25th anniversary, Rod Campbell has refreshed the original artwork to give Dear Zoo an updated and fresh look, ready to delight a new generation of young readers!