Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
Written by Judith Viorst
Illustrated by Ray Cruz

Thank you to my good, talented, and wise friend ShaLisa for this guest post on what I consider a classic book. Enjoy!

This is a book that my mom, a counselor by profession and by heart, read to me throughout my younger years when I truly believed I was having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. It was a way for me to know my mom understood some of my feelings. Sometimes, she didn’t have to read the book, but would gently say something like, “Is today a day you wished you lived in Australia?” Then I knew that she knew and somehow, her knowing made things much better.

Now I am a mother. When my child seems to be having such a day, I find reading the book calms us both and puts a smile on our faces. The book reminds me of how things sometimes seem from the eyes of a child. (I also see now how a bad day for Alexander might have also meant a frustrating day for his mother.)

This book has been around for a long time. It is a book that my mom still reads often, this time to her junior high school students who, undeniably, have bad days. Oh, how a children’s literature can affect a person for good!

A note from Lindsay: I think I will have to adopt the sweet tradition of stopping and taking a minute to pull out this book when my children (or I!) have a bad day. I just love this idea!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Superhero ABC

SuperHero ABC
Written and illustrated by Bob McLeod

I don't know if it's all boys, or just most of the little boys I know, but they really dig superheroes. Faster than lightening, stronger than steel, and better than the bad-guy, my boys just can't seem to get enough! Unfortunately, comic book heroes have been adulterated for adults! I keep my eyes open for hero-related items that are truly for kids, and I am happy to share this one with you.

SuperHero ABC is a book about many superheros, one for each letter of the alphabet in fact. It's unmistakenly for kids, as some of the sillier superheroes are quite appealing to a child's sense of humor, namely Goo girl (who shoots great gobs of goo at gangsters), The Volcano (who vomits on villains), and Upside-Down Man (who wears his uniform under his underwear). Artist Bob McLeod does a superb job with his invented heroes, and you would expect him to as he's worked for Marvel Comics on characters such as Wonder Woman and The Incredible Hulk. For the superhero lover who is at just about the right age for an alphabet book, this book will certainly spur imagination. You might be surprised with the superheroes that show up in your house afterwards!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Mrs Crumps Cat

Mrs. Crump's Cat
Written by Linda Smith
Illustrated by David Roberts

Mrs. Crump runs upon a cat that she is sure she just does not need. At first she is dutifully kind, and pretends not to be interested in the stray yellow cat. Mrs. Crump finds reasons to put off getting rid of the cat, and then even tries to find its owner (sort of). But, this cat is a true-to-life feline personality, who makes this woman her own.

This enjoyable read is one that can be taken for just a simple relaxing read, or a story with lots of little details to talk about. If you are looking for a writing activity, Mrs Crump's find-the-owner letter may supply an example and inspiration for your child to follow. David Roberts hasn't illustrated this clever cat realistically, but the stray still manages to have an amazing amount of true cattiness!

Thank you to Corey from Thing 1 and Thing 2 for bringing my attention to the fact that David Roberts was interviewed at Three Silly Chicks this week. What great timing! This artwork is great, and you may want to learn about a few of his other books by checking out the interview.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Mary Engelbreit's Nursery Tales: A Treasury of Children's Classics Written and illustrated by Mary Engelbreit

Recently I told my three year old daughter that we would be grinding wheat later that day. She asked, "Are we going to the miller's?"

"We are going to be the millers," I told her. My daughter chatted on about the Little Red Hen, and whether or not she would get some bread. The story of The Little Red Hen often comes in handy at my house when I need a little help with something tasty.
"Who will help me, asked the Little Red Hen?" I say. And usually, I have three willing little helpers.

Later that same day my children left their macaroni and cheese to take a walk, and let it cool down. Soon after I learned that I was Goldilocks, and I needed to run away down the window spout. (Clearly they have their own version of The Three Little Bears!)

There are some stories that seem timeless to me, and at my house The Little Red Hen and Goldilocks and The Three Bears are just such classics. Mary Engelbreit's Nursery Tales: A Treasury of Children's Classics is very nearly perfect! I was thrilled when my daughter received this delightful book as a Christmas gift. Engelbreit created this book for very young children, so the stories are simple and short while still complete and charming. Of course you would expect the illustrations to be wonderful, and since they are from Mary Engelbreit, they really are endearing. My one complaint is that the gingerbread man doesn't get eaten up! However, perhaps this ending suits some people even better. For a sweet treasury of timeless stories made simple --I recommend this book.