Friday, August 31, 2007

Picture Books - Vulture View

You never know what you will see on a walk in this neighborhood. So far, since we moved in about 2 years ago the wildlife hasn’t been much in variety as our previous home. Oh, there is the standard geese, ducks, rabbits, and chipmunks, but the birds aren’t as plentiful and no squirrels to date. Of course, we did previously live near a large park with a bird sanctuary. However, for living in the city we had a number of fun sightings including a beaver one-day. After today though, I’m thinking this neighborhood is starting to pick up a bit in some interesting creatures.

The wee one and I were out for a walk/stroll in our small size nicely squared neighborhood. As we rounded the corner we noticed two large animals in the street. Continuing up the sidewalk we then noticed they were very, very large birds. Then it dawned on me these weren’t your everyday neighborhood birds, but rather Turkey Vultures. Oh, how I wished I had my camera with me. The pair stood picking at a carcass in the street and didn’t budge until we were about 10 feet away. It was amazing. I know Turkey Vultures are common through out the states, but when you see these enormous birds fly off with their 6 feet wing spans, we think hum I’m extra glad our cat stays indoors.

A book that would have been great to have on hand today would have been April Pulley Sayre’s new release Vulture View. According to her website she describes the book as “It explores the life of vultures, surely some of the most underappreciated cleaners in the world. It also teaches kids about warm air rising and cooling air sinking. Steve Jenkins has created gorgeous art for this book. The text is young, lyrical, with a push, pull, and refrain that kids will love. It works for surprisingly advanced audiences. Older kids seem to like the gritty facts of a vulture's life.” Our library has the book on order.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Picture Books - Over in the Meadow at the Big Ballet

Ah, with all the too many to remember toy recalls of late it really makes you wonder. Unfortunately, again this year like previous years there has also been a recall of toys given out at the end of summer reading programs. Makes me question whether the incentives are worth the risk for reading? Anyway...

Need a book to encourage someone who has to perform in front of a crowd? Or, maybe you have a little one that loves ballet? Either way Over in the Meadow at the Big Ballet by Lisa Shulman and illustrated by Sarah Massini is a must read book. It fills the reader with encouragement and inspiration. Swan’s ballet coach has a way of bringing out the best in her while pushing her in the right way. Miss Faye is a great example of how you hope most coaches or leaders in a child’s life are firm yet faithful in the commitment. Swan’s had the strength all along, but needs that extra push to find it to perform in the meadow ballet recital.

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Picture Books - My Life as a Chicken and Papa, please get the moon for me

What better way to beat the 98-degree temperature than to pop into the library for a story and books. We went yesterday, but it wouldn’t be a bad idea to do it again today. With the wee one being a very, very active girl we are fortunate to have a home with a few unused rooms (i.e. dining room). So, between reading, coloring, and other stationary activities we have set up a portable soccer goal in one of the rooms for her to kick the balls in. Being that she is only 2 1/2 years there isn’t too much danger (knock on wood) of breaking things so far. Boy, I sure can’t wait until the weather is much cooler and her indoor soccer class starts. We miss hanging out in the backyard (which has no shade) and going for walks in the neighborhood and I miss a calmer wee one.

However, we are finding some fun books to read and re-read from the library of late. Two of the recent entertaining ones are My Life as a Chicken by Ellen A. Kelley and illustrated by Michael Slack 2007 and Papa, please get the moon for me by Eric Carle 1986. My Life as a Chicken would be a so fun to read aloud in a dramatic voice to a group of 2nd and 3rd graders. It is the story of a chicken that is on the run (after hearing the farmer read a recipe for chicken pie) and the adventures and perils she encounters. The story is told in a “chicken” biography style with opportunities for some hilarious sound effects. (I pictured Anne of Green Gables reading it in the dramatic voice she uses while reciting the Highwayman, but with a clucky accent.)

The other book Papa, please get the moon for me is an oldie, but goodie. As Monica looks upon a beautiful full moon one night the desire to play with it over takes her, but alas she can’t reach it. So, of course like all little girls she asks her Papa for the moon. Like most fathers he does his best to get it for her. With large and some unusual size pages for illustrating the task Papa undertakes, the reader gets a feel for how the moon goes through its phases and goes from big to small to big again. Only caution here is with letting the little ones turn the unusual pages they tend to rip. Nice book for preschool on up.


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Picture Books: Ant, Ant, Ant & Two Sticks

Know a wee one that is into bugs? If so, then run to the library and get Ant, ant, ant!: an insect chant by April Pulley Sayre and illustrated by Trip Park. This fun chant is so simple and it teaches the names of a number of different types of insects like slugs, brush-footed butterflies, and various other wiggly and flying critters. It makes for a really good read aloud. The illustrations are nice, but do caricaturize the insects some in funny ways others in a bit more grotesque manner. A definite must for those who have bug interested wee ones in the house.

Another off beat humor book that we found this week was Two Sticks by Orel Protopopescu and illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf. It is about a girl named Maybelle who desperately wants to play the drums. She finds a number of things to “bang” on with her two “drum” sticks. Unfortunately, she is unsuccessful in persuading her parents to get her drums until she happens to bring home some crocodiles she is currently using as a drums.

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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

What is that sound you hear?

It's me sounding like a Sicilian miniature donkey braying. Well, I’m thinking I need to write a children’s book about the constant ever-present never-ending driving-you-crazy home repairs. I believe I was going to post book notes this week, but turns out of the 20+ books we checked out of the library most were not even worth listing the titles. Of course, with the thousands of children’s books published each year there are bound to be a few duds, but it seems we picked a good percentage of them this past week. Good thing we are going back tomorrow.

Anyway, two weeks ago we fixed yet another of many and I mean many gas leaks in this house and this time it was in that nice new ultra expensive high efficiency gas furnace. Gee, I wonder if you really save on any gas usage when it keeps leaking out? Well, as I sit here wondering about how we managed to buy a house that provides me a full-time maintenance job where I get to pay someone else on a regular basis to fix it, the roof repair people are here. Let’s see we had hail damage last year and it took over six months to get the new roof up and now it leaks. Hum, is that noise you hear a banging head against the desk sound?

And, let’s not forget the endless paperwork that I have been administrating for my father’s affairs, which hopefully I signed off on the final document today to close the estate. You would have thought my father had a complicated and wealthy life, but in reality he was living a retired and fixed income lifestyle with only a thousand square foot house, older model car, and small bank account. The state I live in is still one of the few that requires umpteen taxes and court papers for even the simplest of estates. Thank you state government for adding to the grieving process.

Good thing I get to read children’s book each day as being with my wee one and her books makes life seem simple and wonderful. So, I am now off at the request of the wee one to come and color with her. No problem there. The laundry and rest of the world can wait.


Thursday, August 02, 2007

Public Service Announcement

I don’t know about you guys, but these virus-spreading geeks with nothing else to do really are getting on my nerves. Instead of maybe using their technical knowledge say for doing good they like to wreck havoc with the rest of us. Recently, I found I was infected with some window snatching device that tries and at times takes over your computer. If not, it at least minimizes the efficiency. Fortunately, I am not a hosting device and you can’t “catch” it from me. Apparently, it came from some email or upgrade that I received. Hopefully, you all will not fall prey to it.

There is quite a bit of information on it out there, but I really do question some of the “authority” sources and the methods or lack of to eliminate it. Not sure how it affects the system if I type the name of it so here is how I discovered it. When looking at the history of typed in sites on the address bar I noticed a two-word phrase without a typical full URL attached to it. One word was “about”. The second word was “blank”.

One of many really great things about books is the ability to read one without catching a virus. Well, unless you are a school or even public librarian. Some of those books come back with some nasty germs attached. Or maybe it was just when the kids handed them to me directly, but I swear I got sick from some of those books back in my elementary school library days.

Anyway, I will be back to semi-regular book notes later. One book note is how excited we are in this house about the latest Jane Yolen and Mark Teague book in their dinosaur series. The next picture book to come out is this fall titled How Do Dinosaurs Go To School? Great books for toddlers on up and the board books are really good for babies and up.

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