Friday, March 31, 2006

Early Readers - My Pumpkin

If you are looking for a good early reader book, I would suggest My Pumpkin by Julia Noonan and illustrated by Peter Lawson.

My Pumpkin is designed to assist both the parent and child with learning to read independently. The book starts with introducing the only 48 words used throughout the book. The words are basic and easy to recognize. In addition, the illustrations help the reader by expressing the word(s) in colorful and simple pictures. The story is very elementary, but told through a fun rhyming method. Although the story title indicates pumpkins leading the selector to think a fall time book, but it really isn't. The story follows a young boy from the spring as he plants his seeds, through the summer as he cares for his pumpkin patch, and finally to the fall and a pumpkin contest. Even though it is designed for an early reader, I would think that even non-readers as early as 12 months would enjoy just looking through the pictures. The illustrations skillfully tell the story without the use of words. It is a nice crossover from picture books to beginning chapter books.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

DVD - Neighborhood Animals

You might be asking yourself, why a DVD is being plugged here rather than a book today? Well, the answer is a sick baby. As chance would have it, my husband, who doesn’t watch much television or movies stopped by the store on the way home and bought not one, but two DVD’s for the baby. This is not only unusual, but very rare except in the case of illness. Our 13 month-old came down with a nasty cold Tuesday and has been miserable since with all the cold accessories. Normally she is a book-loving, toy-playing, and happy-go-lucky child. But, yesterday and today only the sounds of a distracting and mindless parade of images across a television screen have been able to calm the cries of stuffiness, throat gurgling drainage, and tummy discomfort. Thus, creating the impulse purchase by my dearest.

The DVD baby einstein Neighborhood Animals seems to have saved the parental minds today, but also surprisingly now has our stamp of approval. Although my husband did not set out to purchase a “good” DVD, but rather thought “hey the baby liked the books and she likes animal pictures maybe she’ll like this DVD”. The DVD is very simple in nature, so to speak. It offers itself as “a baby’s first introduction to familiar furry and feathered friends” and for ages 9 months and up. The movie is divided into six animal segments with the video portion being very simple yet beautifully filmed animal scenes that includes a variety of appealing classical background music. Interspersed throughout are a few children with some audio pieces that match up with the particular animal being featured. Our girl not only was captivated, but also interacted with us as we “discussed” the various animals with her. She recognized the cats (we have one) as well as various feathered friends. The other DVD is of Sesame Street, but we have yet to watch it. It will probably too be a hit as the only periods of television watching she has done has been mostly of Sesame Street and the hypnotizing Elmo.

So, if you are in a pinch and a book will not do, head for the Neighborhood Animals DVD for your little one. I am not sure what the others in the baby einstein series are like, but this one rates a “go for it” in our home. Here’s wishing you a cold free environment.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Picture Books - Nutmeg and Barley

Nutmeg and Barley: A Budding Friendship by Janie Bynum 2006

This is a story of two unlikely friends, or are they? Nutmeg is a fun loving and sociable red squirrel who doesn’t quite understand her quiet and simple neighbor, Barley the gray mouse. Although each reaches out to the other, they keep missing opportunities to become friends until one day Nutmeg tries again. When Nutmeg discovers Barley is very ill, she goes out of her way to meet his needs and make him comfortable. In doing so, she discovers that she and Barley really do have things in common, which is the beginning of a fond friendship. This warm and fuzzy story would be a good lap read for preschool through 2nd grade. The watercolor illustrations are soft and appealing with a nice satisfying feel. Plus, what great names for these characters.


Monday, March 27, 2006

Picture Books - If Only I Had a Green Nose

If Only I Had a Green Nose by Max Lucado and illustrated by Sergio Martinez 2002

While browsing for St. Patrick's Day books a few weeks back, I stumbled over this book and thought interesting topic for a Max Lucado book. Well, then I read it. It isn't a St. Patrick's Day book, but one that deals with learning to accept who you are rather than trying to be like others. All I can think is that the book was in the wrong place, but it was a new read and enjoyable find. Lucado is widely known for his Adult Christian books and has added to his work through a children's audience.

The story follows Punchinello and his friends through the town of Wemmicksville and its wooden residents. There is one fellow that is the local trend setter who stirs the population into thinking you must do whatever the latest is in order to be "withit". Although Punchinello doesn't seem to think having your nose painted green is anything worthwhile, but he is soon talked into it by friends and follow townspeople. However, as time goes on the latest fad keeps changing and it gets harder and harder to keep up. Punchinello and friends begin to wonder how to get back to their former selves. Finally, they realize they need to go see Eli, who is the Creator.

When I first read the story I kept thinking of Pinnochio, but then during the second read through the Christian references began to become much more apparant. Why it took two reads, I am not sure. I would recommend it for those in 1st or 2nd grade, but not before as it may even be a bit to obtuse at this age unless there are follow up discussions. Also, I would suggest the topic is a good one not so much for the Christian aspect, but rather the "fitting in" theme.


Friday, March 24, 2006

April is National Poetry Month

As a reminder April is National Poetry Month. In honor of this coming month, here are a few books to get you started and to consider checking out at the library. Why start this early? Because, you'll want to get some poetry books checked out before the selection is slim.

You Be Good & I'll Be Night: Jump-on-the-Bed Poems
by Eve Merriam illustrated by Karen Lee Schmidt
Summary: "A fun and lively first poetry book for children. Between the sweet poems and funny rhymes there is something for everyone."

The Frogs Wore Red Suspenders by Jack Prelutsky and illustrated by Petra Mathers
Summary: "Includes nonsensical, often somewhat geographical poems for preschoolers and early readers such as a granny who lost her footing and fell into pudding, elephants who sit in trees and sneeze, a small hen who is stuck at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, etc."

And for that hard to get to read anything person try: Dinosaurs Forever by William Wise and illustrated by Lynn Munsinger
Summary: Hilarious rhyming poems with dinosaurs as the main emphasis. It also includes a pronunciation guide to help with the dinosaurs scientific names.

Also, check out BookHive's list for a variety of poetry books. They include books for all ages with descriptive reviews.

Online Sources on Poetry
  • Children's Poetry in the Poetry Zone - This is a "How To Write Poems" site and is good for grades 3 to 6. Explains how to write acrostics,funny poems, haiku, limericks, etc.
  • Giggle Poetry - This is another really could place to visit for kids just learning how write or appreciate poetry. Plus, there are a number of fun activities.
  • Fern's Poetry Club - Fern from the Arthur's PBS show "runs" this site. Kids can learn to write poems, but also submit them for publication consideration on the site. Each day a new poem is featured. Kids can see what others are writing as well.

Now matter what you like to read there are a variety of types of poetry and topics that I am sure you will find to please even the most finicky reader.

A poem a day brings a smile to the face.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Some Interesting Reading

While looking over a few book resources, I stumbled upon's list for the newest releases in Children's Literature for April through August. There are a number of series and sequels that are coming out in April. For those who enjoy the Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz, the next installment will be Ark Angel: An Alex Rider Adventure. In Chapter books, Laurence Yep has The Earth Dragon Awakes: The San Francisco Earthquake of 1906 and Lois Lowry has Gossamer ready for an April release. Check out the link and see all the latest in Picture Books, Non-Fiction, and others that will soon be available.

Over at Children's Book Reviews, Elizabeth Kennedy has an interesting article about the numerous versions of the Cinderella story. She includes links to various projects, bibliographies, and a article on multicultural Cinderella stories. I have previously written a comparison of two Cinderella stories, which can be found here.

The BCPL Kids Page includes some good resources for those working on Science Fair Projects. Along with some helpful books to use, the BCPL includes steps to preparing a project. This is one of many places to search now that it is Science Fair time.

And finally, BookPage, courtesy of has a review for Phyllis Reynolds Naylor's latest chapter book, Roxie and the Hooligans.

There are a lot of new things coming our way. Enjoy.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Picture Books - Sleep Tight, Little Bear

Sleep Tight, Little Bear by Martin Waddell and illustrated by Barbara Firth 2005

This book is one of several by Waddell in the Little Bear series, but the first I have read. It is a quaint little story about Little Bear who is beginning to spread his wings, so to speak. Little Bear discovers a cave just his size near the one he shares with Big Bear. Although he wants to make the new cave his own little hideaway and eat and sleep there, he seems to be troubled as now Big Bear is all by himself. Waddell does a good job of working the story around encouraging little ones that it is okay to explore and to leave the "cave" for awhile, but there is still a warm and cozy spot waiting for them at home for reassurance and stability (until they are really ready). Now I use the pronoun he to describe Little Bear, but both bears could easily be "she" or 'he" bears, at least to me. The artwork is a pleasant combination I believe of watercolors and pencil and captures the easy to relate to emotions well.

The book copy I checked out included a DVD in the back, but it did not reference it anywhere as being included. Hum? Anyway, I'm still not use to the idea of having the book also accompanied by DVD unless it is to help with learning to read the book. This one is that of Waddell reading the story with an occasional glimpse of the book's illustrations. Popping in a DVD to have the book read to your child instead of doing it yourself seems to take out the most significant part of interaction that books create. Maybe there are other uses for the DVD that I am missing the boat on, but I am an old fashion girl who likes to hold a book. (Although, the DVD would help those with visual impairments to be able to enjoy hearing the story, since there are a limited number of "seeing" books available.)

I think this story is suited for preschool to kindergarten age kids, but I would not consider it a typical bedtime story book.


The Edge of the Forest - March edition is out

If you haven’t already checked out The Edge of the Forest – a children’s literature monthly click over and see this month’s edition. It is again filled with good reviews and other interesting articles. One of my favorites this month is the Kids Pick as it features some interesting thoughts from Third Graders, which is one of my favorite ages to work with. There are a wide variety of book reviews that are captivating and some informative interviews as well.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Hoot - Movie Release April 21

Just a quick reminder that the movie version of Hoot will be out next month. Hoot written by Carl Hiaasen was a 2003 Newbery Honor winner. From the movie trailer I have seen it looks to be a heartwarming and postive movie. And get this, the music is provided by Jimmy Buffet. According to the movie is about: "A young man moves from Montana to Florida with his family, where he's compelled to engage in a fight to protect a population of endangered owls." And the tagline is "It's time to stand up for the little guys". Although there is more to the story than that, it should be a good movie to see and it is rated PG for mild bullying and brief language. The book is considered for ages 10 and up, but I think a little younger may enjoy it, depending on that person's reading level and interest.

Walden Media is offering a limited number of free screening passes "exclusively for Educators, Librarians, After-school Leaders, and Walden Media Partners". So,
check here for those eligible to enter. Also, Walden Media is providing a variety of teaching tools for the book/movie. And, Scholastic will be providing a Moderated Author Chat on April 18, 2006 from 1-2 p.m. ET and 7-8 p.m. ET. Movie clips and trailers are available at and Monsters and Critics.

Hiaasen's latest book is Flush.

Friday, March 17, 2006

National Animal Poison Control Week March 19-25

Although not specifically book related, many Children's books include or are centered around animals so I thought the following appropriate for us here. Beginning Sunday it is National Animal Poison Control Week - March 19-25. This week is dedicated to educating pet owners and veterinarians about household hazards. It is put together by the ASPCA and EPA as part of the Consumer Labeling Initiative (CLI). The CLI is a partnership to improve label information as well as help "the public purchase, use, and dispose of products safely and responsibly in and around their homes".

When checking out what is harmful to pets, I was surprised. Of course, I knew about chocolate and various household plants. Plus, there are the standard harmful things such as household cleaners and items found in the garage, but there are a number of things I was not aware of.

So, for you pet lovers and even those without pets, take a look at the
ASPCA Poison Control Center's list. You may be surprised at what you find. They also have a Pet Care page which is helpful.

Some odd items that may be new to you:
  • Chocolate (all forms) toxic due to Tehobromine content
  • Coffee (all forms)
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Onions, onion powder breaks down red blood cells and causes renal failure
  • Raisins causes renal failure
  • Grapes causes renal failure
  • Products sweetened with xylitol (artificial sweetener)
  • Post-1982 pennies due to the high zinc content
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Avocado
This is a good time to head to the juvenile or adult non-fiction section and check out some pet care books (usually in the 636 section). Some options could be:
  1. Cats: how to choose and care for a cat by Laura Jeffrey (there are a number of other titles by this author covering a variety of common pets) 2004 j636.8 JEF Juvenile book
  2. Small pet care: how to look after your rabbit, guinea pig, or hamster by Annabel Blackledge 2005 j636.935 BLA Juvenile Book
  3. Arthur and the school pet by Marc Brown2003 jZ B87913 a fun Juvenile fiction book
  4. Encyclopedia of pets & pet care: the essential family reference guide to pet breeds and pet care by Lorenz, 2004 636.0887 E5645 Adult book
  5. The ASPCA complete guide to pet care by David Carroll 2001 636.0887 CAR Adult Book

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Resource Information

Not sure what to read to your kids? Well, here are two resources that may make selecting and how to engage your youngster easier.

Great Books for Babies and Toddlers by Kathleen Odean (Dewey number j028.5 ODE)


Playful Reading by Carolyn Munson-Benson (Dewey number j372.4 MUN)

Both of these books were recently featured by my local library in their monthly newsletter for the Developing Young Readers information and Reading Beyond the Bestseller List article.

Also, if you are looking for a website to check out there is the Children's Literature Network which is dedicated to "adults who are passionate about encouraging kids to read". This site includes a list of resources for Delving Deeper into books about reading as well as provides a variety of other helpful information.

I have found that useful books in working with kids (K-6) during my former library and volunteering days could be found in the juvenile section of my local library. Check your library out and see how they shelve their reading resource collection. You might be surprised what you find and where it is kept.

And, in other updates: It is sunny with no rain today. Yeah!!! Spring is almost here.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Picture Books - Fox Makes Friends

Fox Makes Friends by Adam Relf 2005

What a cute little story about how young ones, in this case Fox and his friends, take words so literally. Relf does a good job of taking a simple statement, creating some humorous moments, and wrapping it all up into a warm conclusion. Plus, it is an actual picture book that isn't too small or too large to handle. As Goldilocks would say, it was just right. Aside from the over-average size, the artwork was very simple, but pleasing and appealing to the eye. The book design, color use, and text layout would work well in a read aloud and helps eliminate the kids in the back interrupting the story to yell out, "I can't see the picture". In my opinion, it would be good for babies through kindergarten, but for some strange reason I noted on the U.S. Amazon today that they have it listed from ages 9 to 12!? Maybe they'll take a second look and rethink that. Everywhere else I noted they list it for 2 to 6 years of age.

Enjoy a book with a friend or two. (Hope you all are able to stay dry and the wild windy weather hasn't affected you too much.)


Friday, March 10, 2006

Chapter Books - Cliff-Hanger

Cliff-Hanger, Gloria Skurzynski and Alane Ferguson. National Geographic Society. April 1999. Grades 4–6

When Jack first hears his family is getting an emergency placement foster child, he is not happy about it and feels it will “screw up” their plans to visit Mesa Verde where his Mom is going to do some animal consulting. Jack’s younger sister Ashley is very excited at first about having a foster child in the family until she meets Lucky. From the moment Lucky arrives Jack is swept away by her charm and secret tales. Lucky manages to divide Ashley and Jack’s bond quickly and convinces Jack of her desperate situation that she has kept secret. Although Jack sees some unusual actions from Lucky along their trip, he does not share the same opinion as Ashley that Lucky is hiding something and is planning to runaway.

Once they reach Mesa Verde, Jack’s Mom and Dad are heavily involved in solving the park’s problem of cougar attacks and the political upheaval it has brought about. Lucky begins to struggle with her conscience, but is determined to escape and meet up with the person she is secretly calling late at night. After some harrowing events Jack, Ashley, and Lucky come across Lucky’s father and the truth begins to reveal itself. Lucky and her father elude the park rangers and Jack’s attempt to persuade Lucky not to runaway. With the park’s cougar problem solved, the Landon’s head back home minus a foster child.

The mother-daughter writing team does an excellent job of depicting Mesa Verde and all of its treasures in this third National Parks Mystery series book. Even though this novel is classified as a mystery, the story revolves more around living with others, family ties, surviving, and a child’s attachment to her parent. The reader is kept involved by what Lucky is up to and how a twelve-year old boy can be naïve and so committed to helping another.

This wouldn't be one of my top recommendations for those interested in mysteries, but the other books in this series may actually fit the genre better than this one did.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Picture Books - Clever Katya

Mary Hoffman is known for many of her literary children's works, and I first became familiar with her through Amazing Grace and its subsequent series. However, at a recent SecondHand Prose Booksale, put on by the local library system, I happened upon her fairy tale Clever Katya, A Fairy Tale From Old Russia. The beautiful illustrations and vibrant color is what first drew my attention. At these sales besides being a literal mob of people wading through the vast number of withdrawn library books, the children's section is usually cramped and difficult to traverse. So, one of the ways I try to select is by eye catching dust jackets (it beats pushing and shoving).

Clever Katya is a charming tale of two brothers, a daughter, a foal, and a Tsar. As with most fairy tales this one too provides a moral compass and involves greed and poverty. The tale begins with a rich brother giving the poor brother a mare. With no land to keep the horse the rich brother allowed the poor brother to keep the mare with his own horses. As a result of this, the mare produces a foal that the brothers then argue over who it belongs too. To settle the matter they go to the market where the town's judges are to resolve the issue, but instead the reigning Tsar is filling in for the day. The Tsar has a sense of humor and gives them a riddle to solve and whoever solves it correctly gets to keep the foal. To find an answer to the riddle the rich brother consults a neighbor lady and the poor brother his very wise for her age seven-year-old daughter, Katya. What the riddle is and its answer make for an interesting and humorous tale. The colorful and intricate illustrations really add to the enjoyment.

Although this particular copy of the book was in the library book sale, the system still maintains a few other copies and it can still be purchased online. Don't let a little withdrawal in my local system influence your looking for it.


Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Check out the 2nd Carnival of Children’s Literature

Looking for some fun with Children's literature? Then head over to the 2nd Carnival of Children's Literature put together by Chicken Spaghetti. She has done a wonderful job in gathering a number of blog postings for your reading pleasure and discovery.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Titles changed for Harry and others

For my husband's birthday this weekend, he received a copy of The New Book of Lists: The Original Compendium of Curious Information by David Wallechinsky and Amy Wallace from his brother and future sister-in-law. It was the current 2005 copy of the original he prized in his elementary age years. As I skimmed through it last night, I discovered what fun my husband must have enjoyed in his younger days.

There are a number of chapters on a variety of topics, but a few included literary tidbits. One of these categories was “The Original Titles of 31 Famous Books”. Although changing titles isn't unheard of in the publishing business; however, the list included some interesting books. The last entry on the list addressed the book Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Book 4) by J. K. Rowling. Since the movie addition of this book is being released on DVD tomorrow I thought, what a jolly little spot I could write on this information. But, it is not too be, as my brain is just not oozing much witticism today. So, here is what the original title for the 4th book about life at Hogwarts was to be: Harry Potter and the Doomspell Tournament. Of course, the first book in this series was originally released under two titles. The title for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone was released as Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone in the U.K.

Since the entry just sort of went flat with the Harry revelation, I thought I should at least add a little more to either keep your interest or at least add some balance. With Pride and Prejudice, the movie, up for a few Oscars last night, I thought you would be interested to know that the original title considered by Jane Austen for her 1813 book was First Impressions. And, for those pirate fans out there, 1883's Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson was original titled The Sea-Cook. I think there were less than a half dozen titles that would be considered Young Adult or Children’s literary works within the 31 listed.

Enjoy Harry with the others as he is bound to become a classic as well.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Picture Books - Babar

Having such a short time at the library these days, I have been able to quickly grab familiar books and those that are new to me. This is good because I always have a comfort book, but I also get to explore new authors and illustrators. Luck would have it that on my last visit I was able to pick up my old buddy Babar. But alas, it was one I had not read before titled Babar's Mystery. Although first published in 1978, this book looked like it was right off the press and had an updated 2004 dust jacket. (Way to go local library in keeping up with selection.) With all that said, it was a very delightful book. My daughter, now 12 months old, enjoyed the pictures, but was not interested whatsoever in the text. It was interesting though to see her become annoyed with me when I tried to read it without her. Needless to say, we "read" it together and then I actually really read it after she went to bed.

This book is definitely for the already-reading kid crowd, but it sure is a great way to introduce the mystery genre to younger kids. While Babar and his family are at Celesteville-on-the-Sea for a visit, they begin to encounter some unusual thefts during their stay. With the whole family and the Old Lady checking out clues, the theives do not stand a chance.

In my book world, you can never go wrong with a Babar series book.

Read, read, and see what you discover.


Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Beatrix Potter's Stories Online

If you are a fan of Beatrix Potter, then you will enjoy Storytime provided by Potter's publisher Frederick Warne & Co Limited. Potter has been a staple in most children's reading experiences for some time. Between the illustrations and simple stories of life in the Lake District you can't go wrong with one of her short tales. Warne's site includes several of Potter's tales along with audio narration. The format is very pleasing to the eye and easy to use. Once you select the tale you follow along with the text as it is narrated. The layout is as if you are reading the book and viewing the illustrations while turning the page when you are ready. My favorites are The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle and The Tailor of Gloucester. (Click on one of the titles and hear the tale for yourself.)

Another place to try would be Kids Corner featured by Wired for Books from Ohio University online. At Kids Corner you will find many of Potter's tales with their original illustrations. You can either read them page by page or listen to an audio version (without illustrations). Either way Storytime or Kids Corner are good places to go when the these classic tales are all checked out from the library. You can also find at Kids Corner selected Fairy Tales from The Brothers Grimm and Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

The Free Library by Farlex also includes a number of the Potter tales as well, but does not include illustrations.

Enjoy the afternoon with a tale or two.