Saturday, April 30, 2011

Move Over, Rover!

Move Over, Rover! by Karen Beaumont, with illustrations by Jane Dyer, is Emmy's favorite book at the moment (mine, too). The sweet and gentle dog, Rover, is enjoying a bone in his doghouse when a thunderstorm comes along. Generously, Rover allows some other animal friends (cat, racoon, squirrel...) to seek shelter in his doghouse to keep warm and sleep through the storm.
"Squirrel's in the doghouse,
sleeping through the storm...
Blue Jay's looking all around
to find a place that's warm.
Squeeze in, squirrel!
Make room, Racoon!
Skit-scat, Cat!
Mover over, Rover!"
Karen Beaumont uses a familiar motif - generosity leads to overcrowding - that can be found in Jan Brett's The Mitten as well as the use of a cumulative story like Audrey Woods' The Napping House (click here to find more cumulative stories).

When Emmy and I read Move Over, Rover the first time we missed a very important part of the story shown in the illustrations - a skunk hiding behind the doghouse who slips inside when Rover goes out to check out the rain. The skunk is snuggled inside as all the other animals find warmth in Rover's house. Skunk's fur can be seen (if you look closely) in all the pictures and when the inhabitants in the overcrowded house suddenly catch a whiff of something they all skitter, scatter leaving skunk comfortably sleeping through the storm. The story ends with the sun shining and Rover once again chewing on his bone in his doghouse very happy that he's alone.

Hearing Emmy read this story is simply delightful. Her favorite line is "Skit-scat, Cat!" She always wants me to read the back jacket flap where it is shared that Move Over, Rover was inspired by Karen's childhood in Oregon when one rainy night her dog let a goat into the house and she found them both curled up on her parents' bed!!! Emmy likes to imagine how many animals could fit inside her house which makes me think that I should share Margot Zemach's book It Could Always Be Worse which tells of a family complaining about their crowded and noisy house and the interesting advice that a wise Rabbi gives to them.

Emmy and I have been enjoying this poem by Ken Nesbitt about a "watch dog."

My Dog is Not Like Other Dogs

My dog is not like other dogs.
He doesn't care to walk,
He doesn't bark, he doesn't howl.
He goes "Tick, tock. Tick, tock."

He beeps each day at half-past nine.
At noon he starts to chime,
I have a strong suspicion
that my dog can tell the time.

Another dog might run and play,
or smother me with licking,
but my dog just annoys me
with his beeping and his ticking.

Should you decide to buy a dog,
consider my remarks:
When looking for a "watch dog,"
get yourself the kind that barks.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Hunwick's Egg

Have you ever met a Bilby? Emmy and I haven't, but we are hoping to one day. Emmy is so full of anticipation for the Easter Bunny's arrival tomorrow morning, but after reading the book, Hunwick's Egg, she is wondering about a visit from an Easter Bilby. The Easter Bilby is the Australian alternative to the Easter Bunny. Bilbies (a type of bandicoot) are marsupials. They are about the size of a rabbit and like rabbits have large ears. Bilbies are nocturnal, omnivore animals living in the arid areas of central Australia. They are endangered due to habitat destruction.

Mem Fox and Pamela Lofts have created a story of hope celebrating the warmth and power of an unexpected friendship. When after a storm, Hunwick discovers an egg he is determined to take care of it until it hatches. Hunwick's neighbors (emu, cockatoo, echidna) are concerned when the egg doesn't seem to be hatching, but Hunwick realizes that his egg is actually a perfectly shaped stone and continues to "love it with all his heart." The illustrations add an interesting element to the text and showcases the flora and fauna of the Australian landscape.

Making connections while reading is an important part of the process and Emmy is on her way. She was able to use prior knowledge to make a connection from this book to one we had previously read (text to text connection...there is also text to self and text to world connections). After reading Hunwick's Egg with her, Emmy immediately compared it to The Odd Egg. She realized that the duck and the bilby both needed a friend and wanted to take care of something special. Even though Hunwick's egg did not turn out to be an egg, Emmy understood the stone's special meaning to Hunwick as she has a rather large collection of rocks that each mean something special to her.

Click here to read an interview with Mem Fox about this amazing story.

This is Mem Fox's second collaboration with illustrator Pamela Lofts - the first being the wildly successful classic Koula Lou.

"There was once a baby koula, so soft and round
that all who saw her loved her. Her name was Koula Lou.
The emu loved her. The platypus loved her.
And even tough little Koala Klaws next door loved her.
But it was her mother who loved her most of all..."

Whether you enjoy a chocolate bunny or a chocolate bilby
(profits help protect these animals from extinction),
Emmy and I wish you a very happy Easter!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Listen to the Rain

Last night the rain fell and Emmy awoke talking about the sounds she heard. She wondered if it was a dream, but when I opened her curtains she saw the wet ground and the raindrops that clung to her window. "Mommy it was real!" I also heard the rain and was reminded of a beautiful poem by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault titled Listen to the Rain.

Listen to the rain,
the whisper of the rain,
the slow soft sprinkle,
the drip-drop tinkle,
the first wet whisper of the rain.

Listen to the rain,
the singing of the rain,
the tiptoe pitter-patter,
the splish and splash and splatter,
the steady sound of the rain.

Listen to the rain,
the rouring pouring rain,
the hurly-burly topsy-turvy
lashing gnashing teeth of rain,
the lightning-flashing
sounding pounding roaring rain,
leaving all outdoors a muddle,
a mishy mushy muddy puddle.

Listen to the quietude,
the silence and the solitude of after-rain,
the dripping, dripping, dropping,
the slowly, slowly stopping,
the fresh wet silent after-time of rain.

I now know that this poem is in book form (Listen to the Rain) beautifully illustrated by James Endicott. The melody of the poem and the abstract designs of the illustrations offer new ways of listening and seeing. This book is a wonderful introduction to onomatopoeia which was always a favorite with my second graders, and a beginning to an understanding for Emmy of words that represent sounds.

Besides "Singing in the Rain," another favorite video that Emmy and I have been enjoying lately is a performance of Toto's "Africa," by a Slovenian jazz choir called Perpetuum Jazzile. The group begins and ends the song by simulating the sound of rain with their hands and feet - amazing!

April Rain Song

Let the rain kiss you
Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drips
Let the rain sing you a lullaby

The rain makes still pools on the sidewalk
The rain makes running pools in the gutter
The rain plays a little sleep song on our roof at night
And I love the rain.

~Langston Hughes~

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Rainy Day Books

"April showers bring May flowers."

Emmy and I have been so excited for Spring to arrive and we are happy to announce that it is HERE! Our walks to and from school are full of the sights and smells of this beautiful season. We've noticed buds on the trees, sprouts coming out of the ground, birds singing their wonderful songs and grass turning green.

Today's walk was a splashing good time as the rain came down. Emmy was delighted to wear her rain gear. She stomped in the puddles and twirled her umbrella. Emmy noticed how the raindrops created rings in the puddles just like when she throws a rock into the pond. We stopped and closed our eyes and listened to the sounds that the rain made. Emmy happily announced that the rain had many different languages. Here are a few of her examples, pitter-patter, splish-splash, drip-drop, drizzle-drizzle, whoosh-whoosh and ssssplosh!

Emmy had many questions about rain and to help answer these questions I searched our house for all the books I could find that had to do with rain. We have several great ones to share with you starting with Emmy's favorite.

The Rain Came Down, written and illustrated by David Shannon, really shows how the weather can affect people's mood. The rain is the cause for many noisy events beginning with the squawking of the chickens.

"On Saturday morning,
the rain came down.
It made the chickens squawk.
The cat yowled at the chickens,
and the dog barked at the cat.
And still, the rain came down."

These noisy events continue until complete chaos reigns. "What is all this ruckus about?" And then the rain stopped! And with the rain went the noise. The sun came out and one by one each character ends up smiling and helping someone else.

Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain by Verna Aardema with pictures by Beatriz Vidal - a cumulative rhyming tale (think The House That Jack Built) set in Africa. Emmy loves how the main character, Ki-Pat, solves the problem of the drought. She also likes to stand just like him "on one leg like the big stork bird."

This is the Rain by Lola M. Schaefer and illustrated by Jane Wattenberg - also a cumulative story told in rhyme that simply explains the water cycle. Illustrations are vivid with a mix of real photographs and computer generated images. Emmy loves the last page where she giggles at the sight of seahorses, birds and even a dinosaur holding umbrellas!

Who Likes Rain by Wong Herbert Yee - We are such big fans of Yee. His illustrations are soft, gentle and gorgeous! In this story a young girl explores the rain by asking riddling questions such as, "When it rains, Who's the first to scat? I know! Do you? Mew, mew . . . It's the cat!" Emmy says, "This is a delightful book Mommy!" See what we have to say about Yee's book Tracks in the Snow here.

Rain by David Bennett with pictures by Rosalinda Kightley is part of the Bear Facts series which invites young readers to discover the wonders of science and nature. In Rain, the water cycle is explained with the help of an adorable bear with an umbrella. Emmy wanted to read the pages about lightning and thunder over and over again.

The Kids' Book of Clouds & Sky written and photographed by Frank Staub - a beautifully photographed resource book that answers many questions that children have about clouds and the sky. For example, What is the sky made of? What are clouds? What causes rain and snow? Where does the wind come from? Why is the moon white, and Why does it look so big? Emmy sat and looked at the pictures in this book for a very long time.

After our long reading and snuggling session, Emmy and I enjoyed acting like rain. We moved like raindrops and did the water cycle dance! The best time was creating our own rainstorm using our hands and feet. Here's how we did it:

To make the sound of rain, first rub your hands together slowly and then a bit faster. Next snap your fingers (or clap) going a bit faster. Now slap your thighs and go faster and faster. Next stomp your feet even faster and give a jump for thunder! When you're ready slow it all down repeating the steps backwards - stomping feet, slapping thighs, snapping fingers (or clapping hands), rubbing hands - going slower with each movement until there is silence. Now you give it a try!

I have mentioned before that I am a big fan of "old" song and dance movies so I was sure to show Emmy the ultimate rain dance starring Gene Kelly in Singing in the Rain (1952). She loved it. Tomorrow we will be swinging from the lamp posts!!!

To end this post, please enjoy a poem from Emmy's
favorite poet of the moment - Shel Silverstein!

I opened my eyes
And looked up at the rain,
And it dripped in my head
And flowed in my brain,
And all that I hear as I lie in my bed
Is the slishity-slosh of the rain in my head.

I step very softly,
I walk very slow,
I can't do a handstand--
I might overflow,
So pardon the wild crazy thing I just said--
I'm just not the same since there's rain my head.