Friday, June 30, 2006

Picture Books - Five Little Chicks

Five Little Chicks by Nancy Tafuri

Not all picture books are created equal. What am I saying? Well, I am referring in this case to the age appropriateness of picture books. Surprisingly enough, a number of people just assume that if it looks like a picture book then it must be good for all young kids ages 2 to 8. However, the interesting part is that the target audience is not always one age group nor does an 8 year old like the same thing as a 2 year old.

For instance, the story of Five Little Chicks is definitely one that is aimed at the very young. I would call this a toddler book for sure. It almost reminds me of a board book, but includes a little more text that makes it more appealing for those that do more than just nibble on books now. The story is a bit weak on plot, but is somewhat amusing as we watch the hatching and antics of five little chicks as they discover life outside the shell. The text is rhythmic and repetitive and makes for a nice read aloud book. We find out the little chicks try to eat anything that grabs their fancy, but mama hen steers them to the right food in the end. I wonder if it is that easy with toddlers? Anyway, the book’s artwork makes for an easy to share story with bright and colorful pages that compliment a very simple text. In addition, there is the learning to count to five nicely tucked in the wording.

Another interesting aspect that makes me wonder if publishers are starting to try and conserve paper is that the story begins and ends on the end papers. Sure makes it tough for libraries, as they tend to cover part of the story with the checkout card pocket, which by the way our library no longer uses, but for some silly reason still find it necessary to add these for the security tag.


Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Cloth Books - Big Rex and Friends

Big Rex and Friends by Roger Priddy

Fantasticosaurus is all I can say about this book, which is filled with various appealing dinosaurs. This was a great gift from my in-laws to our baby girl this past week. She really, really enjoys it and her parents are having fun with it too. Even with its dinosaurs names do not fret as they are easy to pronounce and the back cover besides being colorfully designed has all the dinosaurs and their names phonetically spelled out to assist. Who knows after enjoying this book your child when they are older could be wowing his or her kindergarten teacher with correctly pronouncing dinosaur names? It only took a day or so for me to get the hang of it, but I am tongued tied on just about anything with more than two syllables.

Although this is a prefect touch and feel book for babies it also has the ability to grow with them into preschool age. I can imagine an older sibling might want to make off with it when the baby is napping. Each page has some type of fun texture attached to the dinosaur picture that blends well with the rhyming text. The pictures are large and vibrant and include a variety of enticing borders and the pages are soft padded. This seems to be one in a Cloth Book Series by Priddy, which we are now going to seek out. Be aware though if you look for this online it seems the pictures they have of the book appear to all be in some type of hanging package container. It kind of gives a not so pleasant appearance, but don’t let that keep you from seeking it out.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Picture Books - Bumpety Bump!

Bumpety Bump! by Pat Hutchins

Filled with rhyme and rollicking this story follows a little boy and his Grandfather as they gather items from the garden. As they go rolling along in the wheelbarrow the little red hen tags along behind them everywhere watching what they pick and dig. The little boy enjoys showing the hen what he can do whether it is digging up onions or picking strawberries and bumping up and down in the wheelbarrow. However, when the hen stops following they wonder what is the matter. So, it is now their turn to follow instead and to their surprise the hen shows them what she can do. This is certainly a delightful story with simple, but colorful artwork that adds greatly to the narrative. Besides being amusing there is an underlying and very subtle educational benefit. The reader and listener get to learn and see how a large number of fruits and vegetables are grown whether it is above or below ground or even in trees. Definitely a Turn The Page book for toddlers through approximately second grade.


Monday, June 26, 2006

Picture Books - Little Donkey and the Babysitter

Little Donkey and the Babysitter by Rindert Kromhout and illustrated by Annemarie van Haeringen 2006

Originally published in the Netherlands in 2003, this is the English translation. We meet Little Donkey as he is having a disagreement with Mama Donkey about staying home by himself while she goes to the movie with a Mr. Billy Goat. Mama Donkey has hired Nanny Hen as the sitter to watch over Little Donkey. The story's premise is one most parents who like to go out from time to time with preschool and older kids at home can relate to. Nanny Hen arrives and attempts to corral and sooth Little Donkey, but at the same time letting him have a bit of freedom to satisfy his disgruntled ego. What seems to be a story on track with Little Donkey performing a few shenanigans while Nanny Hen tries to manage him begins to turn downward somewhere toward the middle. I am not sure if it is due to a glitch in the translation or the original story itself, but the cuteness wears thin and becomes annoying. The appeal picks back up at the end, but not really enough to save the overall feeling one is left with at the conclusion. I am not sure if the author is trying to reach out to single Moms and the issues faced when trying to date or if he is speaking to kids on their level when faced with having a sitter. Either way the story has potential, but is a definite one time read in this house. A Turn The Page with Caution rating.


Friday, June 23, 2006

Early Readers - Tiny Goes Camping

Tiny Goes Camping by Cari Meister 2006

This is a true blue level one reader. Meister does a good job in keeping the story going while sticking to very basic and easy to read words, which is hard to do at this level. The artist Rich Davis also does a good job in capturing the spirit of the story and helps add to it by using expressive artwork that tells the story and identifies words. The story is about a boy and his dog Tiny going camping, of course. We follow the nameless boy and his dog as they prepare what is needed to go camping like a map, food, flashlight, etc. The boy and Tiny stake out their camping site and enjoy the fun. (Caution for those caring for an adventurous soul: The boy has an unsupervised campfire.) This would be a really good book to have a new reader try on their own and then read aloud to you. There will be some comparison of Tiny to the famed big red dog “Clifford”, but the similarities do not take away from the charm and ease in reading. Also, it appears this is one in a series of easy to read books about Tiny. Tiny as an oversized dog is not an original idea, but the series may be worth checking out. Probably best for ages 5 and up.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Chapter Books - Roxie and the Hooligans

Roxie and the Hooligans by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor 2006

Although it has been out for a number of months now, I finally had the chance to read Roxie and the Hooligans. How enjoyable and fun can a book get! Naylor has really put the adventure into dealing with bullies. Roxie is an explorer at heart, but can’t seem to defend herself against the school bullies that taunt her everyday. Although she is the niece of famed Lord Thistlebottom’s associate Mr. Dangerfoot, Roxie struggles with finding her courage. One morning when she arrives early to school to avoid the “hooligans” she finds the school isn’t open and the “hooligans” have come early as well to torture her with eggs and boys underwear. While trying to escape them, she and the bullies end up in the dumpster, hulled away, and deposited on a sea barge. As they are dumped at sea, they spot a nearby island and from there the real adventure begins. Facing the wrath of the four bullies and now two hiding bank robbers in a murderous mood, Roxie finds her knowledge in survival skills will not only help them survive, but win over the hearts of her school adversaries. While facing the island’s escapades Roxie realizes she may not be a world explorer, but she has the courage and know how to take care of herself. In addition, while the bullies question whether they are missed at all, Roxie finds comfort in knowing she is sure she is missed and loved for who she is. Naylor also adds some whimsical fun to the story with the various names of the characters and towns. Good choice for ages 8 and up.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Picture Books - Pablo the Artist

Pablo the Artist by Satoshi Kitamura 2005

If you are seeking delightful and imaginative picture books to share then start with this one. Kitamura has taken a typical artist creative block and turned it into a humorous and inventive situation. Pablo is an elephant on an inspirational mission. He and the rest of his art club have an upcoming exhibit to prepare for. Unfortunately, Pablo is having a difficult time coming up with a painting he thinks is good enough. After discussing the situation with his friends he is off to paint a landscape. Pablo finds the perfect spot and begins to paint. As lunchtime arrives he decides to eat and then take a short nap. While sleeping we are introduced to a number of characters from the landscape that contribute to Pablo’s work. Kitamura does an excellent job in adding each character and their addition to the painting. What is interesting is that you really aren’t sure at this point if Pablo is dreaming or if these landscape characters are actual real. As the story wraps up at the exhibit where Pablo’s painting is a hit, the readers are left to decide for themselves what possibly could have occurred. Kitamura does a great job with the artwork and produces animal characters that are amusing and easy to like. Great for preschool and up.


Monday, June 19, 2006

Picture Books - Last Day Blues

Last Day Blues by Julie Danneberg 2006

Although a bit late in timing, this book about the last week of school would be one to add to a reading list for school or at home. I had originally picked up Danneberg’s First Year Letters a few months back and really enjoyed it. However, when I stumbled upon this I thought it is rather unusual to find a book on the subject of the last week of school. This pair of Danneberg’s would make great reading bookends to a school year.

The Last Day Blues follows Mrs. Hartwell’s class through the final week of school and her students’ thoughts. The class is concerned about how they think Mrs. Hartwell will probably miss them and be sad through out the summer. The students take this belief to heart and want Mrs. Hartwell to begin summer break with a gift to remind her how much the class thinks of her and will miss her. In the meantime, Mrs. Hartwell unbeknownst to her students is really looking forward to her upcoming time off and is planning a vacation.

Considering most students are more anxious to fly out the door rather than think about a teacher the last week of school still doesn’t deter from the story. Is it realistic, maybe for some classes, but probably not for most. This would be a really fun read for students third grade and lower.


Thursday, June 15, 2006

What's New in Books? - Good Question

I haven’t had a chance to write up much on the numerous books I have read these past few weeks. So, I thought a look at some other reviews on books I have yet to read and that peeked my interest would be a good choice for today. There are several new Cool Books that came out in May according to The following are three that caught my eye and I am going to add to my reading list.

Fly By Night by Frances Hardinge

Ages 10-up
“Twelve-year-old Mosca Mye doesn't have much. Her cruel uncle keeps her locked up in his mill, and her only friend is her pet goose, who will bite anything that crosses his path. But she does have one small, rare thing: the ability to read. She doesn't know it yet, but in a world where books are dangerous things, this gift will change her life. Enter Eponymous Clent, a smooth-talking con man who whisks her away into a world of secret societies and floating coffeehouses, spies and smugglers, crazed dukes and double-crossing racketeers. It would be exactly the kind of tale Mosca has always longed to take part in, until she learns that her one true love --- words --- may be the death of her.” (Kind of has an Inkheart ring to it though. At least in my opinion, not

Mercy Watson Goes For A Ride by Kate DiCamillo

Ages 6-10
“Mr. and Mrs. Watson's portly pig, Mercy, loves nothing more than a ride in the car. It takes a fair amount of nudging and bribing to get her out of the driver's seat. But once the convertible is on the road, Mercy loves the feel of the wind tickling her ears and the sun on her snout. One day the Watsons' elderly neighbor, Baby Lincoln, pops up in the backseat hoping for some "folly and adventure" --- and in the chaos that ensues, an exuberant Mercy ends up behind the wheel!” (Anything that isn't like either The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane or The Tale of Despereaux would be an improvement.)

Boy On The Brink by David McPhail

Ages 4-8
“After a fun-filled day of fishing, playing on the beach, and riding ponies at a carnival, a young boy goes to sleep and dreams of adventures inspired by the day's events. The boy rescues a yellow-haired girl from the castle guards, patches a crack in the dam, and saves a giant ship from falling off the edge of a waterfall --- always managing to escape from the brink of disaster.” (One of my most favorite illustrator/authors. I haven't found anything I didn't like of his yet.) is a great place to check out new releases and many other children's literature books. Stop on over when you have a chance. They do a nice job.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Chapter Books - Catherine: The Great Journey

Catherine: The Great Journey by Kristiana Gregory 2005

One of the things I really liked about 5th and 6th grade (and I didn’t like much) was the collection of biographies they used to carry in my school library. Most of the biographies of the time were mainly of men, with the occasional notable female. I didn’t mind reading about men, but I do like the more balance in gender variety they have nowadays. I think if I were of that age again, I would also really like this trend of fictional “diary” formats as well. Although this new style is not a traditional non fiction biography, I like how they blend fiction with historical events. Plus, most of these “diary” formats include a subsequent section with actual facts about the time period. I have recently come upon a number of these diary formats, but the one I just read that reminded me most of a biography was that of Scholastics, The Royal Diaries. With Catherine: The Great Journey I found it provided an insight into Russia and Prussia’s history that I had not previously heard. I was aware of Catherine and that the Hermitage was created under her direction, but that was about it.

The story starts when Catherine was still named Sophie and living in Prussia in 1743. This is where we learn her fate is to be betrothed to the next in line to Russia’s throne. From here we follow her “thoughts” and the life she must lead for the next two years to become ready to be Charles-Peter’s wife while both are still teenagers and later to be Emperors’ of Russia. She must live according to the current Empresses’ rules, religion, politics, and whims. Even though Catherine’s thoughts are fictionalized, there is a ring of truth about them. The author appears to have also relied upon many of the documents of the time and Catherine’s numerous own personal papers.

Although this series is heavily marketed and has a number of other series in competition with it, I think the fact the books in The Royal Diaries series are based on real women gives them the edge. If you have someone who likes biographies I would recommend these books to them and vice versa. Catherine: The Great Journey was a quick read as an adult, but would probably take a little longer for a younger reader. Good choice for ages 10 and up.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Early Readers - Houndsley and Catina

Houndsley and Catina by James Howe with Marie-Louise Gay as Illustrator 2006

Well, I think I found another decent Early Reader book. Maybe during my search I will find more than I originally thought I would. This one is what I would classify as a “Turn The Page”. (See earlier definition here.) James Howe of course is probably best known for his Early Readers of Pinky & Rex and the infamous Bunnicula series of books available in Chapter and Early Reader formats.

Howe has set this tale of two friends in a three-chapter layout that reads very smoothly. Houndsley (a dog) and Catina (a cat) are best friends and share many great moments together. But, the time has come where Houndsley must learn “how to be honest with a friend”, and whereas Catina needs to find a way to comfort Houndsley after an uncomfortable situation. Howe does a good job in telling the story in an uncomplicated manner, yet still gives enough details to make the story plausible and without being preachy. Each chapter can easily stand on its own and they actually blend very well with each other. This is an issue that I have seen a number of Early Reader’s stories struggle with. In addition, the book has some expressive and captivating artwork that makes it even more appealing. I would definitely recommend this for new readers ages 7 to 9. Plus, it would also make a nice read aloud for younger ones and can easily be broken down by the chapters for quick reads.

Monday, June 12, 2006

New Board Books Coming

While checking out Jane Yolen's - TELLING THE TRUE: A WRITER'S JOURNAL I noticed that she has two new Board Books coming out. They are How Do Dinosaurs Learn Their Colors and How Do Dinosaurs Play with Their Friends both illustrated by Mark Teague. According to Amazon they have a release date of September 1, 2006.

We are big fans of her "How Do Dinosaurs..." books as well as her other books. We have all of the books in this series so far and especially find the Board Books very usefully especially right now with a little 16 month old. She loves to listen to stories, but particularly likes to be able to turn the pages herself. Plus, she likes to look through them on her own, but we monitor this activity as she currently likes to nibble (chomp) on the bindings. Those teeth are needing an outlet somewhere.

Chapter Books - Soldier's Heart

Soldier's Heart: a novel of the Civil War by Gary Paulsen 1998, Delacorte Press

When checking out MotherReader recently, her posting on Booktalks took me back to my booktalk days. I usually could do a "quick" booktalk to younger kids without too much prep. But, back when doing "formal" Booktalks for older kids I would first write down what I would say to help me better organize my thoughts, plus I didn't stumble as much. I think in my mind it was harder for me to "sell" older kids on the idea of reading. Digging through some old papers I found a booktalk that for some reason I still had. It is one I did for the book Soldier's Heart a few years ago. It is a book I would recommend for 6th grade and up or for anyone interested in the Civil War period.

Hi! My name is Charley and I am fifteen years old and the oldest man of my house. Today, June 10, 1861 I told a lie and got away with it. See, I told my mom it was time for me to be a man, but she wasn't sure it was the right time for me to be thinking that way. Even though she too had seen the signs and heard the slogans. Mom had even gone to the parade. But, still she thought I was just a boy. So, I went down to Fort Snelling far enough away from Winona, Minnesota where I am from so that no one would know me. There I met with this colonel of the regiment who took my name and I told him straight to his face I was eighteen. I think since I have been doing a man's work these years in the fields and stand tall like a man, the colonel didn't think twice about whether I was telling the truth or not. He told me that I couldn't desert my post, traffic with the enemy, steal from fellow soldiers, or act immoral and that was that. I am now a soldier. So, you are asking yourself, why is he telling me about this. Well, let me ask you something. Have you ever told a lie and gotten away with it and then later on wished that someone had found you out? Find out what Charley is trying to tell you by reading Soldier's Heart.

The intensity of the battle descriptions and emotions make the story worth checking out, especially for boys. Paulsen's documentation refers to a number of research sources, which I believe help provide the supportive backdrop to the book's subject matter and its ring of authenticity.

Friday, June 09, 2006

New Reviews from BookPage

Through I received a notice about the following reviews from BookPage on these latest in Children's literature for 5th grade and up. Click on the titles to see the full review.

Strange Happenings: Five Tales of Transformation By Avi
An interesting collection of five short stories.

Two Hot Dogs with Everything By Paul Haven
A world of baseball, superstition, and an eleven year old boy.

Listen! By Stephanie S. Tolan
Find a girl recovering from an accident and her attempt to tame a wild dog over the summer.

Happy summer time reading.

Ramblings and Ponderings

So, back to the Library I went this morning. (Here the pondering begins with a lot of rambling.) On the way there I passed not one, not two, not six, but eight cars and trucks with those new fangled ladders you see infomercials for at one intersection. I think it was something like the multi-purpose folds very small gets big ladder. At first it didn't seem too strange, but then I thought, why would cars be lugging them on a bike rack. Then it dawned on me. All these cars and trucks had out of state plates from North Carolina to Texas. They like a large number of out of town estimators, contractors, and of course quick fix rip off artist have hit town. We had a horrendous hailstorm (two waves) come through back in April. Now, we sustained damage to the house and both cars in the first wave. Luckily, none of it was structural devastating in nature, but the cars exteriors look a bit like a golf balls. Unfortunately, just a few blocks away the second storm went through and many homes and cars were seriously damaged. There are a number of insurance companies with temporary set-ups on this side of town and they are still assessing damage that was from almost two months ago.

We were fortunate in that our insurance company got to us very quickly, but now we have to wait at least two more months before we can get any local contracts out to give us an estimate on the house with a repair date for even later and still haven't been able to get an appointment for the cars. Of course, this last week our neighborhood has been overrun with local and "fly-by-night" estimators and contractors wanting to give us a "free" look over for repairs. So, where am I heading with this posting? Well, if it is taking at least two months so far just to have insurance companies look at the storm damage and at least another two months to have a contractor give us an estimate (while others are even farther out in time), it doesn't seem to be too unreasonable to expect hurricane damaged areas to still be in a fix mode. I totally agree that many of these areas are devastated and help is needed on all levels to get these homes repaired or replaced. But, if a less severe of a storm can create such a backlog with the people who can fix the problem in our small neck of the woods, I can't imagine how whole towns can expect to be repaired in a year's time. There just aren't enough qualified people especially when other areas are drawing on those same people. Also, as a side note - Insurance companies do not usually have a listing of contractors. And, contractors have to decide independently what they will charge. Double the time.

(Now to plain ole' rambling)
Okay, back to the library tale. I try to get there when it just opens at 10:00 a.m. It is safer that way for the other patrons as my little one still likes to look at the books, point, and then scream wanting them all. However, I found a good (although probably temporary) solution today. I turned her stroller (not a good idea to let her roam) around so that instead of facing the books I was perusing, she was facing other patrons. Boy, she sure likes to look at other people. I was able to grab a number of books from various sections and she was happy. Plus, we signed up for the summer reading program and the little one gets points for every book she listens to with Mommy or Daddy. Then we can choose an age appropriate item as a reward. They had bubbles and board books, so it should be fun.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Back to the Library They Must Go

One of my favorite book comforts is that I can check out up to 75, yes I said 75, books at a time from the library. That is in addition to other media materials. Amazing! Although there have been a few times I have reached a count of 40 or so, I am usually around 20 to 25 in various books. Lucky me and all the other patrons of our local system.

However, there is a downside. In recent months, I have found I rarely get a chance to write up any information on more than a half a dozen or so of the books I have read. So, to at least provide a bit of a brief thought or comment I am going to try a "Ebert and Roeper" review style for the left over books. So, to provide a consistent review format I have come up with a little phrasing to describe my thoughts. The following Early Reader books are receiving a "Turn The Page" (meaning it is worth checking out) or "Shelve It" (meaning don't bother) comment. These are just a few of the books I am returning.

You Can Use a Compass by Lisa Trumbauer - Summary: Simple text and photographs describe and illustrate how to use a compass to find one's way on land, at sea, or in the air.
Turn The Page - Good non fiction Early Reader

Rabbit Cadabra by James Howe - Summary: When Chester learns that the Amazing Karlovsky will use a rabbit in his school magic show, he comes up with a plan to stop vampire bunnies. (Early Reader version of the Bunnicula chapter books.)
Turn The Page - This is a level 3 with story complexity and text calling for a definite reading proficiency.

Pup and Hound at Sea by Susan Hood - Summary: Two dogs pretending to be pirates told in rhyme.
Turn The Page - Not great, but worth at least a look.

The Magic School Bus Flies from the Nest by Joanna Cole - Summary: Mrs. Frizzle and her class come to Carlos' aid when he gets too close to a bird's nest while studying birds.

Shelve It - Layout and text not Early Reader friendly, better for more experienced readers.

My Wild Woolly by Deborah J. Eaton - Summary: A boy discovers an imaginary animal in his back yard, but his mother does not believe it is there.
Shelve It - Very Boring

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Chapter Books - Ellen Tebbits

Ellen Tebbits - Beverly Cleary 1951 reissued 1999

Ah, isn't it nice to go back a little in time and enjoy the simple things of life, like wanting to be chosen to clap the erasers. Of course, now days its the I want to wipe off the white board. No matter, the idea of feeling special from such a simple little task is something many of us can relate to from our youth. Here in one of Beverly Cleary's tried and true books, you will find Ellen Tebbits has a way about her and the things she gets herself into that rings so true with the 3rd and 4th grade age group. Without giving any details away for those who haven't had a chance to read Ellen Tebbits, I'll try to highlight what I think is the overall feature of this really, really heartfelt and enjoyable book.

We first meet Ellen as she tries to hide a "dark" secret from the rest of her ballet classmates. The secret is one that many of us can relate to at Ellen's age. While trying to keep her secret from others, Ellen unexpectedly finds a friend in the new girl from California. Ellen comes to find that she and her new friend, Austine, share the same secret and find themselves with an instant connection and begin a great friendship. From here we see how Ellen handles a growing friendship along with many good times and third grade life predicaments they share. But, Ellen soon learns that one's actions can lead to months and months of hurt and loneliness when a misunderstanding is allowed to linger way to long. As Ellen progresses through a new fourth grade school year without her best friend by her side she learns a valuable lesson in forgiveness.

Cleary provides a number of insights to how friendships need to be nurtured and based in honesty and trust. Also, Cleary provides a great example of how a simple misunderstanding can grow to such depths when a simple apology can turn matters around. Although the setting is somewhat dated and the problems Ellen and Austine experience are probably not as traumatic as the youth of today face, Cleary provides a foundation for friendship that can still be applied. Plus, her writing talents and comical events really are never out of style.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Early Readers - Yoko & Friends School Days: Be My Valentine

Yoko & Friends School Days: Be My Valentine by Rosemary Wells 2001

Now, why am I reading a Valentine's Day book in June. Well, I was over at a secondhand library booksale and there it was. A fairly new looking hardback Early Reader just asking to go home with me and only for $1.00. The only crime I think I spotted that got it ejected from the library's collection was its torn plastic dust jacket cover (or its age). And, since I am determined to find a few good Early Reader books, I thought why not. So, I read a Valentine's Day Book in June.

So, now the verdict. Well, I have to tell you, if the other books in this series are as good as this story, I say go get them and use them as Early Reader books for your kids. The story, the artwork, and the simplicity were all appealing. I won't though put this in a first time reader's hand, but it would work very well as the next step up book. Besides being just a darn cute story about four friends, it provides for a good discussion on how to be a good friend and remembering to think of others. This one also makes for a nice read aloud book. Plus, it also reminds me of the days when exhanging Valentine's Day cards were so much easier and without all the social issues attached.

Also, check out Rosemary Wells website when you get a minute. Although, Wells' site doesn't appear to have been updated since 2000, it still has some nice features worth looking over. These include a number of fun things to do such as an activity page and coloring pages. There is also a Parent, Teacher, and Librarian page.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Picture Books - One Green Apple

Over at there is a review from BookPage on Eve Bunting's lastest book One Green Apple. The book review is written by Jennifer Robinson a teacher from Baltimore and worth checking out.

Also, Houghton Mifflin introduces the book as:
"Description: Farah feels alone, even when surrounded by her classmates. She listens and nods but doesn’t speak. It’s hard being the new kid in school, especially when you’re from another country and don’t know the language. Then, on a field trip to an apple orchard, Farah discovers there are lots of things that sound the same as they did at home, from dogs crunching their food to the ripple of friendly laughter. As she helps the class make apple cider, Farah connects with the other students and begins to feel that she belongs. Ted Lewin’s gorgeous sun-drenched paintings and Eve Bunting’s sensitive text immediately put the reader into another child’s shoes in this timely story of a young Muslim immigrant."

The book is suppose to be available after June 16. It looks like a good one to share with little ones and adults about being sensitive to others that are new to a school, neighborhood, etc., and that we all share some similarities that we can connect with.


Friday, June 02, 2006

Chapter Books - The Secret Journey

The Secret Journey by Peg Kehret 1999

After a recent move (over eight months now) we are finally getting some unpacking done in the garage. To my delight I have found a box of books I had forgotten about and at one point thought lost. Yeah!!!! The Secret Journey is one I purchased several years ago and found it interesting and worth recommending to students then and I still feel the same upon its rediscovery. However, after re-reading it this past week I had forgotten there were some parts I found a bit hard to believe. But, that doesn't take away from the overall story.

Emma is what appears at the start a bit of a spoiled twelve-year-old girl who has just found out her parents are sending her to a not so nice aunt to stay indefinitely. Her mother is ill and her father, who can't seem to relate to his daughter, leaves Emma in the dark about many things including what is wrong with her mother. Emma knowing that she has no intention of staying with her aunt and bully of a cousin hatches a runaway plan. Now keep in mind the story is set in England in 1834. For some reason Emma thinks she can leave unnoticed from a home she has just arrived at, in a town she is unfamiliar with, and find her way to the docks where her parents are sailing to the south of France for treatment all the while with the thought of stowing away.

As Emma puts her plan in motion she encounters eye opening people and places on her way to the docks. There dressed as a boy she is lied to and ends up stowing away on an "evil" ship bound for Cape Town to smuggle slaves. Upon being discovered Emma endures life as a cabin boy until a fateful storm sinks the ship and strands her on a beach in a jungle region of Africa. Emma is the only survivor and must learn to live in the wild without any supplies. While existing on figs, spring water, and bugs Emma finds some solace from a distance in the companionship of chimpanzees. After what seems to be months, Emma puts together a “help” sign and catches the eye of a passing ship. There she is taken aboard and returned to England after being gone over four months. When she arrives she finds her aunt did not notify her parents she was missing, but is booked on the next ship to visit them. Emma ends up keeping the entire journey a secret, but vows to tell her parents one day.

Now, I have made the summary of this book sound a bit remarkable, but it really is an interesting adventure story that will grab a reader’s attention the first time through. It is the second time through that makes one go, hum, this is a bit fantastical for the time period. Just think proper headstrong English girl meets pirates, lands on a “Survivor” hideaway, and finds inner strength. Recommended for 3rd through 6th grade who tend to revel in an incredible adventure.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Father's Day Books

Just 18 more days. Are you ready?

Although Dad’s are just as important as Moms they seem to sometimes be neglected on their special day. I had previously put together a rather extensive list of Mother’s Day books earlier, but hadn’t put one together for Father’s Day. So, in my attempt to correct this, I have a short list here. Several on the list include ones that I have sought out for my own little one and her father. The books listed include both board books and picture books. I love finding new books for them to share during their time together. Hope you find something awesome to share with your child's Dad or even your own Dad may enjoy a fun book to remember with.

Hey, Daddy: Animal Fathers and Their Babies by Mary Batten

Summary: Introduces the important roles that some animal fathers play in the development of their offspring, with examples of specific kinds of birds, mammals, and other creatures that thrive under a father's care.
Daddy's Girl by Garrison Keillor

Summary: Colorful illustrations of four doting songs celebrate the loving relationship between a father and his daughter. Includes CD sung by the author.
Mister Seahorse by Eric Carle
Summary: After Mrs. Seahorse lays her eggs on Mr. Seahorse's belly, he drifts through the water, greeting other fish fathers who are taking care of their eggs.
The Very Best Daddy of All by Marion Dane Bauer

Summary: Pictures and rhyming text show how some fathers, animal, bird, and human, take care of their children by bringing them food, playing with them, and keeping them safe.
I Love My Daddy Because ... by Laurel Porter-Gaylord

Summary: Familiar phrases from a preschooler's world give a child's-eye view of being an animal baby. Many different animal fathers are shown caring for their young.
Daddy's Little Girl by Bobby Burke

Summary: An illustrated version of a song which describes how special a daughter is to her father. The song "Daddy's Little Girl" has been a favorite of fathers and daughters -- and mothers, too -- for more than fifty years. In this picture-book version, an adoring rabbit daddy and his little bunny bring the moving lyrics to life as they share special moments that demonstrate the special bond reserved for daddies and their little girls.
Daddy's Little Boy by Billy Collins

Summary: An illustrated version of a song which describes how special a son is to his father.
Hunting the Daddyosaurus by Teresa Bateman
Summary: Two young dinosaurs track their father around the house and finally tackle him in his easy chair.
Daddy Calls Me Man by Angela Johnson
Summary: Inspired by his family experiences and his father's paintings, a young boy creates four poems.
Daddy Will You Miss Me? by Wendy McCormick
Summary: A boy and his daddy come up with lots of different ways to stay close to one another while the daddy is in Africa for four weeks.
My Daddy and Me by Jerry Spinelli
Summary: A young boy describes the things he likes to do with his father, including making music, baking cookies, and fixing things.

Sleepy Me by Marni McGee
Summary: As everything in the house winds down, Daddy carries a sleepy child to bed.
Daddy and Me by Catherine Daly Weir
Summary: Pictures and text relate some of the many things that fathers do with their children, from teaching them to cook to taking them fishing.

An Octopus Followed Me Home by Dan Yaccarino
Summary: When a girl brings home an octopus and wants to keep him as a pet, her daddy reminds her of the crocodile, seals, and other inappropriate animals she has already brought into the house to create chaos.
Daddy Hugs 1 2 3 by Karen Katz
Summary: A loving father counts the number of hugs he gives his baby to say I love you.
Daddy and Me by Karen Katz
Summary: This is a flip book where Daddy is making a special project and the child helps him find the tools he needs by looking under the oversized flaps.
Daddy Kisses by Anne Gutman
Summary: Warm illustrations feature a variety of animals and celebrate the affection between fathers and children.
Daddy Cuddles by Anne Gutman
Summary: In this celebration of parental love, each daddy shows how much he loves his baby in his own special way.