Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I Love You the Purplest

Written by: by Barbara M. Joosse
Illustrated by: Mary Whyte

Those of you who have more than two children to love can certainly understand how meaningful the words "sibling rivalry" become. Recently my husband came up with a great idea for two of my children: a back-scratching contest. Of course he was first to offer his back as available, with himself as the judge. While scratching, my son asked who was best --it was a contest after all. I rolled my eyes, weary of this question, because even when it's not a contest this comes up a lot between my three children. My husband simply noted how one hand was a little bigger and was a strong scratcher while the other hand was more petite and was a gentle scratcher.
"But who's the best?" my son demanded.
"You are the strongest scratcher," my husband told him, "and your sister is the softest." Those of you who have read, I Love You the Purplest surely would have been reminded of this book also. I felt relief as I relived the feelings of this book, and noted to myself that I could use this as a way of dissipating rivalry more often.

The mother in I Love You the Purplest has two sons close in age who engage in some friendly brotherly competition on more than one occasion. But the sweet mother reminds them each of their differences, and helps them understand how they are both wonderful and perfect to her. As they drift off to sleep she loves each a different color, and together she loves them purplest.

This book is probably best enjoyed by children with siblings, and at a time when they are willing to snuggle in for a quiet read. I think of this as a book that speaks to adults also --as it spoke to me --who have more than one child to absolutely love the purplest.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon

Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon
Written by Patty Lovell
Illustrated by: David Catrow

This week I have a guest post from a brilliant mother, writer, and reader-friend of mine, ShaLisa. She gave this book as a gift to me once, and now it's a favorite of mine. Enjoy!

The first time I read this story to my children, the book seemed only to have inspired them to see exactly how many pennies they could balance on their teeth. However, the message of the book is much greater than this balancing skill which it invited, and with repeated readings, my children understand a little more each time, how anybody, including themselves can be proud of who they are --just the way they are.

Molly Lou Melon stood just taller than her dog and was the recipient of loving advice from a loving grandmother who, you will discover when you look at the last page, learned a valuable lesson in life to share with her Molly. Even when faced with the challenge of moving to a new school, Molly stood tall.

The illustrations are delightful, my favorite being the friend pictured on a couple of the pages, with awed eyes and sweet admiration. A child will be blessed to learn the same lesson as Molly Lou Melon. Molly, with buck teeth and big beautiful eyes, set out to make the world better for having lived in it. And so she did.

If you like this book, try I Like Myself! by Karen Beaumont, illustrated by David Catrow.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Here's a Little Poem: A Very First Book of Poetry

Similar to my venture for the perfect nursery rhyme book , I went on a venture for the perfect first poetry book. This wasn't the book I ended up with, but if it would have been around then, it would have been perfect! I'm not going to say I'm a poetry expert, or even that I've seen a huge number of early poetry books, but this book is different from what I have seen, and perfect for little ones.

Here's A Little Poem: A Very First Book of Poetry contains little poems for little people with little attention spans. Perfect. There is almost always only one or two poems per page. The words are large, making it easy to read, as well as making the words a visual feature for little eyes. The illustrations are large and simple, colorful, and of course adorable. You can tell that by looking at the cover, can't you?

Our local library has this book, and we have checked it out and enjoyed it more than once. All of my children enjoy it, and we all seem to have chosen our favorite poems. As much as I would love too, I don't buy all the books I love. But if I did, I would most certainly own this one. If I ever venture to find a first poetry collection again --and I might--this will be my first choice.

When do you go on your first poetry book expedition? Well, that depends on who you ask. My opinion is that you can't start poetry too early. I think the rhymes and illustrations in this book would easily please a baby if read in short intervals. Depending of course on temperament, and how accustomed to being read to a child is, I think this would also make a great one or two year-old birthday gift. I know my children would have loved it. Beyond that certainly the three to five year old set would enjoy it. It's wonderful to find books that grow with a child! Rhyming is an important literacy skill, and hearing rhymes over and over has got to be one of the most enjoyable ways to acquire it. Babies love rhyming, and so do young children. And when it's this well done --so do I.

I'm not the only one who appreciates this book. It is currently up for the Beehive Award for 2009!

To hear another book-lover succinctly discuss the importance of rhyme, and her perfect nursery rhyme book, click here.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Roger The Jolly Pirate

It's always exciting when you find that the author of a book you highly approve of has something in common with you. Like Brett Helquist! We share the same home state! He graduated from a favorite college of mine! And well, what do you know, he is also the illustrator of the best-selling Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. (The things you can learn from the back jacket: amazing).

Roger doesn't scowl, he smiles; he doesn't growl, he grins. He is a jolly pirate. Unfortunately, that's pretty unpopular with the other pirates. To make matters worse, he doesn't know the larward from the starboard, or the mizzard from the main! To make amends, Roger tries to make a cake and make it up to them...and well, his baking skills are right in line with his pirating skills--and a baking catastrophe ensues. Luckily for Roger, this mistake benefits his ship, and the other pirates no longer complain but celebrate him--permanently!

If you have a pirate lover I don't think you can go wrong with this book, and who doesn't care even just a little for pirates? I've noticed amongst the many pirate picture books out there, some are just a little too...well.. jolly to be about pirates. Afterall, pirates are criminals! But Roger, the Jolly Pirate strikes a great balance for children with the lovable Roger and the villanous crew. Plus there's a pirate ditty to belt at the end, and a plot to boot (phew)! Perhaps it's not necessary to mention, since Helquist illustrated a best-selling series, but really-- the illustrations are noteworthy!