Sunday, November 29, 2009

1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up

If you, like me, are ever stuck on what book to read with your child or what book to buy as a gift, then I have found a wonderful resource for you. Julia Eccleshare, a regular contributor to children's book publishing, has compiled a list of the best classic and contemporary children's literature to date. The title of the book is 1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up and is the latest work in the bestselling 1001 series.

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.

"Every now and then a golden age of children's books is announced,
but there are glitterings of gold all through their history, and
Julia Eccleshare's book sifts out a thousand and one for us."

Quentin describes Julia's work in 1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up as a guidebook filled with maps and hints to help us on our journey through the magical world of children's books. I completely agree. As you weave your way through the aisles of books in your local bookstore or library, use this book as your guide.

Two more wonderful resources to help with choosing children's books are:

Jim Trealeses' The Read-Aloud Handbook and Esme Raji Codell's book How to Get Your Child to Love Reading.

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

When I Was A Girl...I Dreamed

Emmy's Aunt Karen bought the book, When I Was A Girl...I Dreamed, for Emmy when she was just a baby. The illustrator, Mark Ludy, lives in Colorado which allowed Karen the opportunity to meet him and have the book autographed with the inscription "Aunt Karen believes in you."

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.

"When I was a girl, I dreamed great dreams of who I'd be and where,
of places near and journeys far, adventures wild and rare."
"Yes, as a girl I dreamed great dreams. Perhaps you dream them too.
Reach higher than the stars, my dears, and your dreams...will come true."

This book would make a wonderful gift for a girl young or old. As found in the inside flap of the book jacket, "Come young, come old and dream. Whether for the first time or once again."

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.

And just as beautifully done is the companion book titled When I Was A Boy...I Dreamed written by Justin Matott and illustrated by Mark Ludy.

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

Colonel Trash Truck

Emmy and I are celebrating the one year anniversary of our blog. Hip, hip hooray! The very first post was on November 10, 2008. With forty-eight posts under our belts, we are excited to begin another year of blogging about our favorite books, favorite authors and favorite illustrators. We hope to show how these books help us to become better thinkers, readers and writers. So snuggle up with your favorite little person and get ready to read.

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:

From street to street,
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!