Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Miss Rumphius
Written and illustrated by: Barbara Cooney

It is easy to be a taker, but it is so vital to happiness to learn to give. We can go through life engaging in all sorts of tricks to learn, improve, become fulfilled, or find our purpose. But all of us, in order to reach these goals must give! Miss Rumphius helps us out a bit as we endeavor to teach our children this lesson. As a girl Miss Rumphius sees and hears how her grandfather has made a difference. As she grows Miss Rumphius finds her own adventure and learning, and also her own beautiful way to give. What can you do to make a difference in the world? What a great discussion to be had with your children, over and over again.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Pumpkin Pumpkin
Written and illustrated by Jeanne Titherington

It's gardening time! Along with gardening time come gardening books, and although we like to read them all year round, they are especially fun when the growing begins. Pumpkin Pumpkin is a simple favorite I have enjoyed with all of my children.

Pumpkin Pumpkin is short and sweet, and yet to the point too. Through these few sentences there is no doubt what happens with the pumpkin seed through the stages, all the way the carved jackolantern, and the saving of the seeds. The illustrations in this book are muted and delightful, adding a lot to the sweetness of the story. I have always used this book as a read aloud, but it would be great for a beginning reader, as it has much repetition in its short simple sentences. Happy reading, and to those who enjoy it, happy gardening!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Dog Who Belonged to No One
Written by Amy Hest
Illustrated by Amy Bates

I have a little girl who loves dogs. We have a real dog, but my daughter actually especially adores her stuffed dogs. They are her great friends. When she is feeling kind she may invite a stuffed monkey to play, but she really loves her dogs the best. Knowing this then it is easy to see us choosing stories about dogs. This is a lovely one.

Amy Hest writes her story in an interesting style, alternating from girl to dog on nearly every page until they unite as friends. They have remarkable similarities, the largest being they are both quite in need of a good companion. It turns out of course that they are perfect friends, friends through all the seasons in fact.

The illustrations in this book are absolutely gorgeous! Today, when thinking to myself whether I liked the story or the text better, I have to say I think I could almost love the pictures just as much alone they are so beautiful! However the text also stands out to me particularly, as it is written in a style unusual to me, this alternating style, and it is engaging.
It has also occurred to me while reading it again, that this book would be a fun
introduction to this alternating story-writing technique. It might be fun to see what children come up with to alternate back and forth. Perhaps this summer we will try it!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A Necklace of Raindrops: and Other Stories
Written by Joan Aiken
Illustrated by Kevin Hawkes

During a visit with my grandmother recently I had the chance to view her elves once again. These are cute and quaint little creatures in limber elvish poses, bright clothing and hats, and mischievous faces. When my grandmother got married in the 1950s, these elves were all the rage and she received them for wedding gifts! She keeps her elves on shelves, and her elves on shelves remind me so much of the elves on shelves in one of my all time favorite books: A Necklace of Raindrops, by Joan Aiken.

A Necklace Of Raindrops is a collection of children's stories so original, I have yet to meet its equal in many ways. (Even if I have many books to read yet!) Aiken has such a sense of magic and whimsy she shares in this book that many children and myself enjoy. These stories are so fanciful and imaginative they bring out the sparkle that is sometimes lacking in everyday life. What child would not love to awaken to find the elves from their books on their very own shelves, to find the mat made for a cat was really a wishing mat? What child would not love to live in the clouds and eat all the apples they wanted that rolled into the sky with the wind? Well, perhaps some children would not. But as for me and mine, we appreciate the sparkle in these stories, and the hope and refreshment it provides. In this newer version Kevin Hawkes adds illustrations that just fit the nature of the stories, and there are just enough.

It is wonderful to have a book to pull out with individual stories that can be read at any time on a whim. That is the magic of a collection of stories in one. This book may not be to everyone's taste, but if you and yours prefer a little magic, a little fanciful fun, I recommend this collection highly!