Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Bats at the Library
Written and Illustrated by Brian Lies
Do you ever wonder what bats do at night? I mean really? Well, if they're lucky they get to visit the library! The adorable (yes, adorable!) bats in this book are lucky enough to find an open window at the library one night. Once inside they use the copy machine, find games to play, look at study guides, and finally when they settle down to read they very much enjoy themselves. Immersed in classic stories you will recognize, the bats have a very unique perspective!

The illustrations in this book are gorgeous --believable but playful. This book passes the 6-year- old-little-boy-who's-getting-quite-picky-about-picture-books test. :) Afterall, there are bats! If you like this book you may want to read Bats at the Beach, written by the same author.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Rain Came Down
Written and illustrated by David ShannonA guest post by my favorite guest ShaLisa! Enjoy!

The cause and effect relationship is a developmental skill that usually occurs in the second year of a child’s life. If you are looking for a great book to reinforce this skill, read The Rain Came Down written and illustrated by David Shannon. This book is great for young children, coupled with short sentences and familiar vocabulary. Still, there are lots of new words to learn and new ideas to explore. Older children love to discover the world of what if and if this, then this with this book. And, most importantly, this book is fun and children love to read it.

One night while reading this book, my toddler exclaimed, “No, mom, you said it wrong. It says….” She then repeated the sentence I had just said with a deep and husky voice. Alas, it is a fun book filled with characters ready for the reader to make come alive. My four year old said, “I would help that man clean up the fruit so I could have an ice cream cone with three scoops too.” Ah, the world of what if – anything can happen in that world. All a child needs is a little food for thought, some ammunition - a good book to stimulate new possibilities.

Other books to reinforce cause and effect relationships include the If You Give a Mouse a Cookie series.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Written by Karen Hess
Illustrated by Wendy Watson

I admit it. I am partial to books that create conversation because really this is half the fun of a really good read aloud session. Spuds invites much discussion. The first time I read this book with my children there were many questions and explanations about vocabulary and life situations. How can I not love a book that teaches a great word like "spud" which was previously unknown? I am also partial to books that show my children just how good they really do have it. This story has the ability to remind us of this.

The mother in this story is tired and overworked. The children are typical, except they are also a little more hungry. One night while mom is working the night shift they decide to pluck a few spuds from a neighboring field, their mouths fairly watering at the prospect. They tirelessly work at it and when they arrive home they are in for a sorrowful surprise not only in their pickings, but their feelings. Mother sets them straight the next day, and luckily the farmer enjoys a little humor and shows appreciation for children.

The illustrations in this book are wonderfully done, interesting but simple, and done from great angles. My favorite element of these illustrations are the pure colors chosen --the blue sky is just such a blue that I just know it is fall. That is indeed the color of a blue fall sky and a yellow field with the sun tilted in such a way that it makes things golden. Amazing!

This book is loaded with rich vocabulary and lessons, making it perfect for a read-aloud where learning occurs on many levels. Once again this is a book that is really meant to be reread and rediscussed. After all, I can't let my kids continue to believe you really can eat and fry rocks! We'll read it again and they'll learn this and more along the way. Just they way I like it.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

An Egg is Quiet

An Egg Is Quiet
Written by: Dianna Aston
Illustrated by: Sylvia Long

An Egg Is Quiet. In a home with three rambunctious children I often yearn for quiet. Admittedly there are occasions when I use read aloud time to gain just that, and the regrouping that inevitable follows. Although an egg is quiet and read-aloud time is relatively so, this book invites a little bit more. It invites and ignites the glorious noise of children inquiring, commenting, exploring, and learning. This is an especially good kind of noise.

As simply as her title, author Dianna Aston informs you in her book of the many aspects of an egg. Really, when I think of it, how many could I come up with? This author comes up with many, all in one simple sentence per page beginning with "An egg is..." It is many things! Amongst the simplicity of these succinct one liners are smaller lines of print that can stand on their own, with pertinent and interesting information. These lines contain not too much, not too little, and just enough information to invite curiosity, amazement, and of course a little learning as a byproduct. To point out what you already may know about books of this sort --these additional lines mean this book can grow with your child. With much younger children the one main sentence can suffice. With time, additional lines can be added little by little. Unlike other books with stand alone text, I would like to emphasize that these notes are truly not too much or too little. I am not partial to text of this sort but in this case the lines are to near perfection, and add quite nicely to the book. For older children the additional text is naturally and fittingly a part of the flow of their exploration.

The illustrations? How can I even express them to you? Illustrator Sylvia Long manages to make salmon eggs look incredible, and I am left still to believe it. These eggs, true to their nature but placed against a white background are as beautiful as Easter eggs. Whether my family can make our Easter eggs as beautiful is yet to be determined, but we plan to try. The eggs in this book are hand labeled, and beautifully so, fairly inviting a beautiful collection of any sort of any thing of you could find! I am partial to watercolor and ink, but I can't imagine these paintings not pleasing a one. An egg is textured, and you simply have to reach out and just feel, because it looks so!

At the finale of this book there are many creatures to observe, and though I have not checked I feel confident that each egg has a master at the end. What is inside of an egg is not quiet at all, and that has very much to do with the nature of an egg in the end. As for not knowing whether or not there is a creature for each egg precisely --that is one of the virtues of this book. We are still exploring and learning from it.