Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Music, Art, Poetry, and Beautiful Messages...

The 2nd grader is now a voracious reader, devouring chapter books by the stack, which makes my heart sing! The Kindergartner can read better than he thinks he can, and so we will be checking out a lot of books this summer. A couple books of note that I've come across lately are "ellington was not a street" by Ntozake Shange, and "Willow" by Denise Brennan-Nelson. 

Ellington is a beautifully illustrated poem that paints a strong, culturally rich picture of African American history during the Jazz Era. Seen through a little girl's eyes, told when she's a grown woman, its words are a thing of absolute beauty, and the illustrations by Kadir Nelson are a stunning match for the writing.


Willow really rang true for me, especially since I've been teaching art all year at our kids' elementary school. The message of Willow's kindness and how her teacher learned something profound from her (and changed for the better!) is touching and inspiring, and reminds us how important art is in our lives and that it is always vital to be true to yourself and be kind, even to those who may seem unkind.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Clementine, We Adore You!

Oh, how we love the Clementine series by Sara Pennypacker. The kids launch into fits of giggles every time she refers to her brother as another vegetable name... rutabaga, bok choy, string bean, broccoli, spinach, etc.

Her "good ideas" also get a good laugh, groan, or "oh... no..." from them too. I love her family, how they interact, and the all the ways they show their love for each other.

Everything from Clementine's imagination to her regular meetings with the Principal are amusing, sneaky little lessons on how to behave.

She shows us that we are all delightful in being our true-blue imperfect selves.

Happy Read Across America Day!


To be fair, I will disclose that this is a "vintage" previously-published (during the toddler/baby years) post. But, it was on our family blog, so I'm adding it here because it does cover a lot of our faves... 


And, my new-favorite Seuss quote is: "You're never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book, and read to a child." 


"You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself, any direction you choose."

-Dr. Seuss


Read some books today. In honor of Theodore Seuss Geisel's birthday (AKA Dr. Seuss) it is National Read Across America Day, and a great day to read some Seuss (or make a "snow angel" in a pile of books like M did the other day). Or head to the library — we did!

So, go ahead, do it. It's so fun to read. And you may not know it, but it's something you need. Just like eating or drinking or breathing in air, so go grab a book. Sit down in a chair. And off you will go to another new place, and I bet it'll put a big smile on your face.


Look out though, it's addictive. Seuss is so fun to read, especially out loud. You might just start thinking and talking "Seussian". Happy Day! Some of our very favorite books (and the ones that I love best):


Charlie Parker Played Be Bop by Chris Rashka
Pirate Girl and The Princess Knight by Cornelia Funke (although I don't read the part where the Queen dies in childbirth - not necessary to the story, especially not for toddlers)
The Paper Bag PrincessMortimer, and More Pies! by Robert Munsch
Cowboy Small by Lois Lenski (introduced to us by Ro)
Giddy Up! Let's Ride! by Flora Mcdonnell
If You Give A Pig A Pancake (and Moose A Muffin and Mouse A Cookie) by Laura Joffe Numeroff
The Snowy Day and Over In The Meadow by Ezra Jack Keats
Cinder Edna by Ellen B Jackson
Do Princesses Wear Hiking Boots and Do Princesses Really Kiss Frogs by Carmela LaVigna Coyle
Swim, Little Wombat, Swim! by Charles Fuge
Tumble Bumble by Felicia Bond
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom! by Bill Martin Jr.
Peek-a-Boo! and Each Peach Pear Plum by Allan Ahlberg
Some Smug Slug and Four Famished Foxes and Fosdyke by Pamela Duncan Edwards
The Lorax; The Foot Book; The Cat in The Hat; Green Eggs and Ham; and There's A Wocket in My Pocket by Dr. Seuss
Blueberries For Sal by Robert McCloskey
Wise Women: Folk and Fairy Tales from around the World retold by Suzanne I. Barchers
One Watermelon Seed by Celia Barker Lottridge
Stuart J. Murphy's MathStart series books
Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson
Rainy Day Slug by Mary Palenick Colborn
Trashy Town by Andrea Griffin Zimmerman
The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter
Little Badger, Terror of The Seven Seas by Eve Bunting
Russell Hoban's Frances books
The Froggy series books by Jonathan London
Ella The Elegant Elephant series by Carmela D'amico
On Your Toes: A Ballet ABC by Rachel Isadora
Degas And The Little Dancer by Laurence Anholt
Night of The Moonjellies by Mark Shasha
Corduroy by Don Freeman
The Moon Jumpers by Maurice Sendak
Freight Train by Donald Crews
Urban Babies Wear Black by Michelle Sinclair Colman
First Book of Sushi by Amy Wilson Sanger
Go Dog, Go! by P.D. EastmanThe Nose Book and Hand, Hand Fingers Thumb by Al Perkins
Old Hat New Hat by Jan and Stan Berenstain
Nina Laden's board books: Ready, Set, Go!, Peek-A-Who?, etc.
Jamberry by Bruce Degen
Paddington's Garden by Michael Bond
OK, I have to stop. There are too many... I keep thinking of more faves, and more and more... it's why I have to make myself stop at the library when I've got too many books to carry and they're falling out of my arms onto the floor! Here's a list of some of our favorite authors who have many, many books that we love: Margaret Wise Brown, Sandra Boynton, Lois Ehlert, Ellen Stoll Walsch, Mo Willems, Kevin Henkes, A.A. Milne, Eric Carle, Audrey Wood, Ludwig Bemelmans, Karen Katz... no doubt I'm forgetting many, but there's a start!

What are your very dear favorites in Children's Lit? Please, do share! I'm always looking for more "goodies"!


***And, as of 2012, we adore Mo Willems, especially his Elephant & Piggie series; Gerald and Piggie are hilarious, expressive and so fun to read out loud!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Classic — New to Me

One of the many great things about reading with, and to, my kids is discovering books that I've not yet read myself. And, one such classic is A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. We finished the first chapter last night; then today after school, and later this evening, we finished the remaining eighteen chapters. About six chapters at a sitting. Madeline adored it, Erik seems to have sort-of followed it (in the background playing with LEGOs), and the line "But the saddest news was that Sara's dear papa was dead," brought both of them up short. The mention of such an unfathomable thing certainly got their attention, but also the fact that we refer to their dad as "Papa," surely made it worse. There were many questions, and many answers, and then the story continued.

We compared Livinia to Nellie Olsen from the Little House series, and we all (often) shook our fists at Miss Minchin's cruelty, and were impressed by Sara's spirit and imagination. Madeline giggled at my exasperation at the missed connections nearing the end of the book, but all along they were quietly impressed by Sara's resolve. I was too. This, I believe, will be a book that we re-visit. There really are so many wonderful lessons in this story, and I'm thankful that the Magic brought it to me by way of my little readers. And, in this case, the "Magic" is my fabulous sister-in-law, Shannon.

Monday, January 2, 2012

YA: Magic and Science Fiction Faves


Tamora Pierce's Sandry's Book, from the Circle of Magic series was a compelling, adventurous and quick read, with strong and interesting female characters, and I'm looking forward to the other three books. Sandry and three other kids (who've had a pretty rough year) are brought to Winding Circle Temple by Niko, a senior mage, to learn their crafts and refine/control their natural magical abilities. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I could probably read this book to Madeline already (she's almost seven), since there really wasn't anything too adult-themed in it, and I think she'd like the descriptions of the mages' lessons and the different magical powers.

Watching the characters' friendships grow and seeing them let go of their cultural and class prejudice is beautiful too. I look forward to Tris's Book, Daja's Book and Briar's Book.


The second YA book that I recently finished is the first in the Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld. Set far in the future, in a post-apocalyptic world, it follows Tally as she waits to become a "Pretty" at 16. In her world, people undergo extensive reconstructive surgery when they turn 16, and until they turn, they live across the river from Pretty Town, isolated from the Pretties and raised in dormitories with other "Uglies" waiting to turn.


Pretty Town is divided into segments too, with the Party Towers in the city where the young New Pretties live, then suburbia where Middle and Late Pretties live with their families, raising their kids (or Littlies) until they turn 12 and are taken away as Uglies to live in the dorms for four years. Along the way, Tally loses a best friend to Pretty Town, then meets Shay, a girl who doesn't want to get the surgery to be a Pretty, and Tally's whole world changes... her adventures that follow are fast-paced, and a quick, fun YA read with a little mild romance between two of the 16+ characters at the end of the book. I found this book to be as compelling as The Hunger Games, without the darker story-line and gladiator/survivor themes. I'd say these books are good for kids 10 and up. The next three books in the series are:  Pretties, Specials, and Extras.


Sunday, January 1, 2012

2012 Book Bag: January

James Banning was the first African-American pilot to fly across the United States. Did you know that? I didn't, but this fantastic picture book (The Hallelujah Flight by Phil Bildner) tells his story beautifully, and is a great conversation starter about equality and the history of segregation and freedom in our country. My 6-year old loved the story, and especially enjoyed the lively illustrations by John Holyfield. 

The second book we're loving right now is Stuck by Oliver Jeffers. Great illustrations, and a silly story that had the kids cracking up over Floyd's ridiculous exploits to get his kite un-stuck from his tree... the kids can't help but smile, giggle and chuckle at this one. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

'Tis The Season...

for fantastic holiday books!

Madeline is reading one of my very favorite 12 days of Christmas books called A Bellbird in a Flame Tree by Kilmeny Niland. It's an Australian "12 days," and it gorgeously illustrated and written, featuring a host of interesting animals native to the land down under. Madeline adores it.
And, for the boy's recent fave, Richard Scarry's Christmas Mice — he adores both mice and Scarry's books, so... this was a shoe-in.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

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