Sunday, August 31, 2008

Katie Books

I love buying books for my nieces that feature characters with their names. I've got a couple great ones for Christmas, as soon as I check to see if they've already got them or not. Flyaway Katie by Polly Dunbar, is written and illustrated by the illustrator of Shoe Baby by Joyce Dunbar, and is a fabulous and fantastical, colorful fun story of a little girl who cheers herself up on a gray day using her own imagination (and some paint). My kids adore it, but as a warning, M's favorite part is when Katie paints her face and arms, which you could play off as silly when reading, but...

Another great "Katie" book, that I gave to my niece Katie for her birthday this year, is Before I Was Your Mother by Kathryn Lasky. I compares a mom with herself as a little girl and shows her grown up with her own daughter sharing stories of her childhood. The illustrations are beautiful, it's easy to follow the back-and-forth (even for a 3-year old), and the mom as a little girl was adventurous and not super "girly" (wears her red cowgirl boots as a flower girl, loves her overalls and her special green bag for hiding treasures, etc). I also loved it because it made me cry. Yep. It's really sweet at the end, and will likely bring a tear to your eye if you're an adult female.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Hoyden Heroines

I recently sent out an email to friends and relatives to ask them to share their favorite kid books with me, my plan being to consolidate the list and share it with everyone. I've already received many excellent titles—many of which I'd not yet discovered.

While working on this list, I began my own and discovered that many of the books that I loved as a kid are the classic kid lit, but that I really got hooked in 1st or 2nd grade when my 5th-grade friend, Denise Logsdon, introduced me to the glorious Nancy Drew... I remember pouring through them on the bus to school.

This early love of books that star a hoydenish heroine has obviously influenced many of the kids' books that I own and love to read to my kids too. The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch being my number one fave — the story of a beautiful princess who's about to marry a prince when a dragon burns up her castle (and everything but a paper bag) and kidnaps Prince Ronald. Using guts and guile, Princess Elizabeth saves the day, and ends up finding out what Ronald is made of too (unchivalrous is a nice way to put it). The end of the book will leave you smiling and should make you laugh too.

Another fave, that I discovered in the bookstore at WWU while I was a senior, is Cinder Edna by Ellen Jackson. It's hilarious, and compares Cinder Ella and Cinder Edna — neighbors with the same lot in life, and very different ways of handling their circumstances. Of course, the gal with moxie is the one who really ends up living "Happily Ever After."

Two others by Cornelia Funke feature fabulous leading ladies — Pirate Girl and The Princess Knight. Molly, the Pirate Girl gets herself rescued (by her amazing kick-butt Pirate Mama) using her smarts and stubbornness. The Princess Knight practices jousting, etc. and disguises herself as a mysterious prince, winning her own "hand in marriage."

And, a few years ago I hunted down Tamora Pierce's the Song of the Lioness Series (four books), the first of which —Alanna— I'd discovered in junior high. I'd only read the first two books and was thrilled to discover there were two more. I bought all four paperbacks, and hope the kids enjoy reading them someday. Basically, Alanna and her twin brother are supposed to be sent off for apprenticeships as a healer and a knight, except that her brother is a natural at healing, and Alanna is the one who wants to become a knight. So, they swap places and she disguises herself (it's of course fine for her brother to be a healer if he wants, so he doesn't have to bother with a disguise) and the adventure begins!

Last, but not least, we've recently discovered the story of Mulan, who Madeline adores—running around the house shouting "Hi-Ya!!" and working on her fight moves...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Head Over Heels!

I spotted this gem on the shelf at the library today, and grabbed it because of the gorgeous, fun cover and for the title: Shoe Baby. Erik is my "shoe baby". He adores shoes and is constantly stealing one of all of everyone else's shoes in the house!

To my delight, this book is even better than I had hoped. The parents are "Mama and Papa" and the baby has grand adventures in the shoe (one of his Papa's)... flying, sailing the seven seas, having tea with the King and Queen, etc. and always saying, "How do you do?" in each rhyme.

The wonderful illustrations are done by Polly Dunbar, the author Joyce's daughter. It is absolutely magical, and on my list to buy!! Obviously, I LOVE this one. Oh, and Erik and Madeline both LOVED it too.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Beyond 1, 2, Buckle My Shoe...

The kids are both loving the latest counting books I picked up at the library; How Do Dinosaurs Count To Ten by Jane Yolen and One Potato by Diana Pomeroy.

One Potato has gorgeous potato-print illustrations of fruit and veggies, and instructions in the back of the book on how to do potato prints. Yolen's book is big fun with wonderful colors and dinosaurs doing things that kids would do, making for silly fun counting (plus learning dinosaur names)!

And, Ten Little Rabbits is from our own collection — from Gramma and Grampa's trip to Bryce National Park last summer. It's a gorgeous board book with illustrations that include Southwestern landscapes, and it depicts Native American traditions and includes rich vocabulary (i.e. anglers, nimble, festive, fleeing, mischief, and messengers) while teaching counting. Madeline especially loves the "Nine festive drummers beating on a drum."


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