Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Owl at Home

Owl at Home
Written and illustrated by Arnold Lobel

Today I would like to introduce you to a dear old friend of mine. This comfortable, lovable, adorable friend is named Owl. He is growing a little bit tattered at my house. I do love Arnold Lobel's creations, but especially Frog and Toad and Owl. Let me tell you what I like about dear Owl.

Owl is simple and sweet. He is so kind he would invite the winter inside to warm itself by the fire --and in fact he does. He is so sentimental that he can make himself cry, just to enjoy tear water tea. Owl thinks of some very sad situations to encourage his tears like beautiful mornings that nobody noticed because they were all sleeping. (Sniff, sniff.) Owl is a thinker. He really wants to figure out how to be upstairs and downstairs at once and he tries pretty hard, wearing himself out in the process. Owl is innocent. He cannot figure out what the strange bumps at the bottom of his bed are. You know --the ones that move whenever his feet do? (He doesn't notice this, but children do.) Owl is so polite that he insists the moon does not need to follow him home. The moon does however, and is even as kind as to shine on his pillow that night. Oh how Owl appreciates such things! Oh dear Owl. This friend warms my heart. I think I will go look for a child to read with, so we can all visit. Owl is a such a worthy friend.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A Bad Case of Stripes

A Bad Case of Stripes
Written and illustrated by: David Shannon

A few days ago I asked my son if he would like a kiwi fruit packed in his school lunch.
"Yes," he replied. "I mean,
No, no, no."
The way this spilled out from yes to no in such an abrupt fashion made me curious.
"Why not?" I asked him. I had a suspicion it wasn't just because he didn't feel like it. I was right.
"I don't want to hear everybody say 'I don't like kiwis' so many times."
"Have they even tried kiwis?" I asked, again suspicious.
"...I don't know"
"Well, I bet they haven't even tried one. You should ask them."
Of course I didn't pack the kiwi fruit, and I was left a little sad. I know we are all influenced by those around us to one degree or another, for better or for worse, but at this moment I wondered why it had to be against something so nutritious! Suddenly I had a flash of inspiration and so I tried reminding my son about A Bad Case of Stripes. Camilla Cream likes something nutritious too. She likes lima beans. Who likes lima beans? Well --Camilla Cream does! In fact Camilla loves them. However, since she is always worrying about what other people think of her, she stops eating them altogether. Then something strange happens. Camilla wakes up with a bad case of stripes! Oh, and they are bright and colorful ones! The doctors are absolutely clueless and the kids at school, as well as everyone around her seem to be able to change the stripes based on what they say to Camilla. Soon, she is not just striped, but growing branches, and viruses, and she even has an unfortunate mishap with an environmental therapist, which leaves her looking an awful lot like her bedroom. Luckily for Camilla a cute little Grandma knows the remedy, and Camilla accepts it -- just in the nick of time. I tried briefing this story to my son, hinting at the similarites between his and Camilla Cream's stories, but he didn't quite remember the point of this story. It is obviously time to read this book again. Perhaps now it is just a little bit more pertinent in his little boy world.

This book is fun even without any discussion at all but just a surface story to read about the trouble this poor girl goes through. The illustrations are full and colorful, ready to be studied. But there is also as you can guess, a little bit more to this book. So then the question is, can this book aid in a little peer pressure problem? I still haven't packed a kiwi fruit, but I also haven't had a good sit down read and discussion with my son. I'll have to keep you posted.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

I Ain't Gonna Paint No More!

I Ain't Gonna Paint No More!
Written by Karen Beaumont
Illustrated by David Catrow

"One Day my mama caught me paintin' pictures on the floor
and the ceiling
and the walls
and the curtains
and the door,
and I heard my mama holler
like I never did before..."

If you have ever been around a toddler in large amounts this will surely sound a little too familiar to you, as it does to me! Most toddlers do afterall have great abilities as artists, and most toddlers have indeed made their mama holler! The text for this book is done in rhyme with built in pauses for your little one to guess just which part of his body the character will paint next. Those proficient, learning to rhyme, or even just those who hope to rhyme will surely enjoy filling in the blanks. All of my kids do. This book is sure to make you laugh --especially near the end where there is nearly nothing left to paint, but plenty to giggle about!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A Frog Thing

A Frog Thing (with Audio CD)
A book and audio CD by Erich Drachman
illustrated by James Muscarello

We all want our kids to be confident, brave, and to feel they can do anything, and perhaps part of the joy and magic of being a parent is often times believing this child you love really can do anything! Well, Frank the frog's parents are just the same. Except that they come to a moment where they realize that everyone has limits. Afterall, frogs don't fly. However Frank is just sure this is what he wants to do. And how do your break it to your frog-son that frogs just really don't fly? At times we all fail to understand our own dreams and perhaps even more often than not, our dreams turn out a little differently than we imagined. But perhaps just as nice. So it is for Frank.

The audio CD of this story by author Eric Drachman is very well done. In fact, when I read this book aloud I often hear the author's voice under mine. What can be more magical and telling than having the author read his own book just the way he intended? Well, it is insightful at times. I love the soft and appropriate watercolor-type illustrations in this book, which seem to fit right in with not only the setting but the theme of this story. And did you know how much expression a frog can show? Well, artist James Muscarello does.

Have you had the chance to let your child enjoy book-on-CDs yet? If you have then you know the magic. If not, I encourage you! Books read this way are a whole new experience for children, and one more point can be chalked up to the quest for the love and appreciation of literacy. We love books on CD, but especially in the car and during long hot lazy (no homework involved) summer days. My kids and I love this book. To us, A Frog Thing is a good thing.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Diary of a Worm
Written by Doreen Cronin
Illustrated by Harry Bliss

Hooray for another guest post by ShaLisa! This book looks adorable, and I can't wait to read it! Thanks ShaLisa!

What would it be like to be a worm? You may enjoy finding out in this fun book titled, Diary of a Worm written by Doreen Cronin and illustrated by Harry Bliss. This book is full of child humor, creative pictures, and even some non-fiction information about worms. Such a book is the perfect way to stir questions and wonderment about those simple squishy things called annelids.

My boys relish this book. Worms can’t crawl upside down, worms eat garbage, worms dig tunnels which are good for the ground, birds eat worms and people use worms to fish with, worms scare girls, and they only need one macaroni noodle to make a noodle necklace. There is so much to learn and consider from the view point of a worm.

This book inspires imagination. We read this book along with Shel Silverstein’s poem titled, One Inch Tall. What would the relationship between a boy who is one inch tall and a worm be like? Ah, if you could be an insect, which insect would you be and what would your day be like? I do hope you write in your diary.