Wednesday, December 30, 2009


I can't believe that I've gone this long without reading the Freckleface Strawberry books by Julianne Moore! I've known of them for awhile, but today at the library, they jumped off the shelf at me, and I'm so very thankful. They are delightful. A spunky, sweet heroine who learns to love herself, freckles and all (I love freckles). And, this little gal reminds me of my sister, Shannon. Well, really she's my sister-in-law, but since I don't have a biological sister, I claim her as my sis.

Like Freckleface Strawberry, my sis is all grown up and still has gorgeous freckles, and red hair. And, also like this heroine, she's a tough cookie who knows how to handle a bully.

In addition to the great stories in these books, the art (by LeUyen Pham) is brilliant. Lively, fun, energetic, emotive—and the heroine is a snappy dresser too!

My kids, and my nieces I think, are going to need these books in their personal libraries! Hooray for being unique!!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Book Bag: December

Sufganiot, rugelach, Christmas, Chanukah, and Ramadan stories, lazy babies, talking crocs, trains, planes and an all-girl swing band... we found some real treasures this month! We learned quite a lot about how different cultures celebrate the holidays, and read some wonderful historic literature for kids. Faves highlighted below:
  1. Under the Christmas tree / by Nikki Grimes ****Beautiful illustrations and poems. Love this!
  2. Chanukah lights everywhere / Michael J. Rosen ****A nice Hanukkah book for preschoolers. Simple but beautfiul.
  3. The Night of the Moon : a Muslim holiday story / by Hena Khan ****Gorgeous illustrations, and a great introduction to Ramadan.
  4. Lazy little loafers / Susan Orlean ****Funny! Great book from a big sister's point of view (about her new baby brother).
  5. A baby born in Bethlehem / by Martha Whitmore Hickman
  6. Melrose and Croc : a Christmas to remember / Emma Chichester Clark.
  7. The Polar Express / written and illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg ****The classic and beloved Christmas story... Trains, adventure, Santa, can't go wrong...
  8. Amelia and Eleanor go for a ride : based on a true story / story by Pam Munoz Ryan ****LOVE this one!!
  9. Five little firefighters / story and pictures by Tom Graham
  10. Strega Nona's harvest / Tomie de Paola.
  11. Happy birthday to you! / by Dr. Seuss. ****We read this on our kids' birthdays every year. A fab tradition.
  12. Sweethearts of rhythm : the story of the greatest all-girl swing band... /Marilyn Nelson ****LOVE this! Another war-time girl-power jewel.

Friday, December 4, 2009


Finally! A satisfying version of Goldilocks. My kids love Goldilocks, and it is one of the tales that I tell them, rather than read, since I can embellish at will. However, Ruth Sanderson's version of Goldilocks beats any I've come up with because at the end Goldy shares the blueberries that she picked in the woods (which is how she came upon their house) with the bears by making blueberry muffins with them! And, the recipe is included at the end of the book.

Even better, the muffin-baking occurs after Goldilocks has helped clean up the mess that she's made of the bears' house, and apologizes for her amazingly bad lack of manners! I think this is one reason that my daughter is enthralled with the story of Goldy—she's appalled by her rude trespassing, thievery, and destruction. Madeline was very satisfied with this story. And, the combination of the clever new twist on the tale, and the absolutely gorgeous illustrations put this on my favorites list too (obviously, since we've had it out from the library since October... due back in mid-January)! Check it out.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Book Bag: November

Creative alphabet books, learning about leaves, and prepping for the holiday season... that's what November was about. We also corralled our books to return them, since we were nearing 75 checked out. Somewhere around 20 really is much more manageable. So, we read a lot of our own books this month, but here are a handful of library books that we really loved...
  1. Alphabestiary : animal poems from A to Z / selected by Jane Yolen ****Great illustrations, and fun alphabet book
  2. Autumn Leaves/ by Ken Robbins
  3. The Nutcracker / Susan Jeffers ****One of the best versions of the Nutcracker for kids that I've seen! Ballet-focused, spare prose, gorgeous illustrations. The only "minus" is that the girl in the story is called "Marie" rather than "Clara" which could confuse kids who know the story.
  4. The magic nutcracker: the nutcracker ballet retold / by Margaret Hillert
  5. All in the woodland early : an ABC book / by Jane Yolen
  6. Blueberries for the queen / John & Katherine Paterson ****Wonderfully imaginative historic book
  7. Robot Zot! / Jon Scieszka ; illustrated by David Shannon ****Scieszka and Shannon, how can you go wrong?? The kids LOVE this one!

Thursday, November 5, 2009


Wynton Marsalis's Jazz ABZ is such a cool book. Beautiful illustrations by Paul Rogers and perfectly matched prose by Marsalis make this a fun education on Jazz musicians as you move through the alphabet from Louis Armstrong to DiZzy Gillespie.

Charlie Parker Played Be Bop by Chris Rashka has long been a favorite in our house, and a board book that I gift to all new babies I know, so Jazz musicians interest our kids, as does Jazz music. At two- and four-years old, Jazz ABZ is a little old for my kids at this point, but they still enjoy the illustrations, word play, and especially the letters that have text that swings & bops to a beat. And, they're learning new words like awkward, dogma, embarking, ephemeral, fractured, julep, zenith, and many, many more. This book's a treasure—buy it! We did.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Really Excellent YA Literature

While I must admit to having torn through the Twilight series at break-neck speed (although book #2 was slower and nearly a deal-breaker), it is not the best literature for young adults (or really anyone - it's like a large slice of chocolate cake). It's surely a good, suspenseful and angst-filled story, and Meyer knows how to draw out the tale, but let's face it—Bella is not a fabulous female role-model for young women. Rather, I want my daughter to read A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly when she's old enough.

Donnelly's story of 16-year old Mattie Gokey is set in 1906, and follows her from her family farm, to a summer get-away hotel resort (as an employee), and through her struggle to stay in school and get educated, while she struggles against the pull of her family and friends who want her to get married and have babies. She weighs her full-ride scholarship to Barnard College and her love for writing against for responsibility to her father and younger siblings.

The book deals with the aftermath of the loss of Mattie's mom to breast cancer, racism, feminism, poverty, elitism, and murder (among other plot lines) and Donnelly weaves a rich story full of beautiful writing and sharp observations. Mattie is an admirably strong, real young woman—a beautiful character, and this book is a marvelous example of the great Young Adult literature available. Historical fiction at its best! I highly recommend this one.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Book Bag: October

This month Erik was very insistent on choosing board books out of the bins in the Kids' section. "I'm gonna choose books for ME, my OWN self," he said, and proceeded to select piles and piles. I said that we needed to pare down our collection a bit... so I helped him narrow down his pile. Here's what he picked:

  1. Jacob Lawrence In The City by Susan Goldman Rubin ****Great rhythm to the story and amazing illustrations.
  2. Old Mother Hubbard by Jane Cabrera
  3. Boats by Byron Barton
  4. Sheila Rae's Peppermint Stick by Kevin Henkes ****Henkes never fails to enchant both the kids (and me!)
  5. 1 is One by Tasha Tudor****LOVE this counting book with complex, wonderful vocabulary!
  6. Chicka Chicka ABC by Bill Martin Jr.
  7. Duck & Goose 123 by Tad Hills
  8. Shades of Black: A Celebration of our Children by Sandra L. Pinkney****Great vocabulary, beautiful tribute to all the colors kids may be.
  9. I Spy Little Numbers by Jean Marzollo and Walter Wick
  10. Sun by Natalie Jane Prior
  11. Fit-It Duck by Jez Alborough****Silly, goofy, messy fun!
And, for her part, Madeline has shown a real interest in Math, so the rest of our books are a mix of early mathematics, Halloween/Fall stories, and myths, legends & fairy tales. Faves are noted as usual****:
  1. I'm your bus / Marilyn Singer ****Both kids LOVE this one. Fun, sweet, happy book.
  2. Halloween night / by Marjorie Dennis Murray
  3. Humpty Dumpty climbs again / Dave Horowitz****Excellent version of Humpty Dumpty. Clever tale of perseverance.
  4. My monster mama loves me so / Laura Leuck ****Fave!
  5. Pumpkin circle : the story of a garden / story by George Levenson****This, and the DVD of same, were fascinating to the kids this year since we grew pumpkins too.
  6. Bootsie Barker bites / by Barbara Bottner ****Mixed reviews on this recommendation from my sister-in-law. I loved the book, and think it teaches a great lesson (including the bratty Bootsie's parents giving in to a tantrum - that's why she's a brat!). My kids love it too. However... other friends and family who've read this to the kids thought it was horrible. I think it's a great book to use to teach some important lessons. And, kids can be mean. The heroine of "Bootsie" stands up for herself without becoming a bully herself...
  7. First picture math / illustrated by Jo Litchfield****Madeline LOVES, and is really good at, this one!
  8. Nifty thrifty math crafts / Michele C. Hollow
  9. Tyrannosaurus math / by Michelle Markel
  10. Money math with Sebastian pig and friends : at the farmer's market / written by Jill Anderson****Fun, and relevant, since we go to the Farmer's Market!
  11. The beautiful stories of life : six Greek myths, retold / Cynthia Rylant
  12. Children of native America today / Arlene Hirschfelder and Yvonne Wakim Dennis
  13. Patchwork style : 35 simple projects for a cozy & colorful life / Suzuko Koseki
  14. George and the dragon / text based on the script written by Sheila Dinsmore
  15. Goldilocks / [retold and illustrated by] Ruth Sanderson****A beautiful version of Goldilocks, where Goldy helps clean up and repair the damage she's done, and gives the bears her blueberries so they can all end up sharing muffins and tea! Includes a blueberry muffin recipe.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Mama's A Mama...

No matter how hairy! Laura Leuck's My Monster Mama Loves Me So shows a hairy, green three-eyed (but sweet) monster Mama caring for her monster son, and illustrates all the ways that she loves him.

The rhyming text is fun and lively, and we especially like the "... takes me to the swamp to swim," part. Our kids are also fans of the fact that "the scary things" that scare the monsters are children! And, having the monsters roast hot dogs in front of a roaring fire, reading books and singing songs really makes them seem familiar and not at all scary.

Mark Buehner's illustrations really make the book shine. This one's a keeper—fun for Halloween, or really, any time of year.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Book Bag: September

Jellyfish are fascinating creatures. They have no brain, no bones, no eyes, there is a vast array of different (beautiful) varieties, and a group of jellies is called a smack. These are the things you learn when you have an inquisitive four-year old... This month has also been Fall, Halloween, Science and Rhyming tales, as well as my favorite counting DVD (featuring Winnie the Pooh), and a wonderful book for parents (and teachers) to encourage pre-K and Kindergarten writers. Enjoy! As, always, our faves are ****'d!
  1. The Snow Queen / by Hans Christian Andersen ; retold by Amy Ehrlich ; [illustrated by] Susan Jeffers.
  2. The Berenstain Bears go back to school / Stan & Jan Berenstain
  3. Books to grow on. Art [kit]
  4. Books to grow on. Camping [kit]
  5. Books to grow on. Machines [kit] ****Erik LOVES this collection of books about all sorts of trucks, cars and boats!
  6. The jellyfish / Miriam J. Gross.
  7. Tan to tamarind : poems about the color brown / poems by Malathi Michelle Iyengar
  8. My soccer book / Gail Gibbons. Gibbons, Gail. 09-15-2009
  9. Outlaw princess of Sherwood, a tale of Rowan Hood / Nancy Springer. ****This series will be part of our home library.
  10. Winnie the Pooh. 123's discovering numbers and counting [videorecording]. ****A great video to introduce young ones to counting. Fun. Roo learns to count (and practice)
  11. Baby whales drink milk / by Barbara Juster Esbensen ****Great science. Fascinating info about mammals.
  12. Halloween night : twenty-one spooktacular poems / by Charles Ghigna
  13. Mouse's first Halloween / Lauren Thompson
  14. Goodnight goon : a petrifying parody / Michael Rex ****Great parody of Goodnight Moon! (Thanks for the tip, Jen.)
  15. The cat in the hat comes back! / By Dr. Seuss ****The kids LOVE the "little cats" in this one!
  16. Fox in socks, by Dr. Seuss ****I LOVE to read this one!
  17. Five goofy ghosts / by Judith Bauer Stamper
  18. It's back to school we go : first day stories from around the world / Ellen Jackson
  19. Jellies : the life of jellyfish / Twig C. George. ****Good detail, and good pics.
  20. Jellyfish / by Ann Herriges
  21. Jellyfish / by Leighton Taylor
  22. Jellyfish / by Martha E.H. Rustad
  23. The jellyfish / Miriam J. Gross.
  24. Brooms are for flying / by Michael Rex. ****Madeline loves that the little girl witch "dresses up" as a "human little girl dressed as a witch"
  25. Jellyfish / by Carol K. Lindeen
  26. I'm your bus / Marilyn Singer ****Awesome rhyming in this wonderful story about your friendly school bus!
  27. Gooey jellyfish / by Natalie Lunis ****This one's the fave of the jellies books - really colorful, fact-filled and great photos!!
  28. Already ready : nurturing writers in preschool and kindergarten / Katie Wood Ray with Matt Glover ****Great book with fun ideas about what to provide for little folk to encourage them as "writers." I've been creating little books for the kids to "write and illustrate" themselves and they LOVE it!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

By The Book...

Congratulations! Meet your beautiful new baby. Oh, and here's your user's manual...

What? You didn't get yours?

Yeah, neither did we.

Would you like one? Because, boy are there are a lot of really great resources out there if you're looking for ideas on the care and handling of little folk. Books that provide a great many techniques and methods on helping raise up polite, thoughtful, responsible, respectful, independent members of society who will go out into the world and make it better (and who don't whine incessantly, backtalk, or drive you completely nuts) . Sounds good, right? The more tools you have in your toolbox, the less likely you are to resort to whining (= nagging), backtalk (= yelling/shouting) or driving yourself completely nuts (= pleading, begging, bribing, cajoling, and giving in to your kids just this one time... or two).

OK, so — here are your user's manuals (they are all linked directly to in case you need to buy one or more - stat!)... while most have egregiously long titles (I've abbreviated many in my list), these are all books I've read, am reading, or have on hold at the library. Most have been recommended by friends, relatives, and acquaintances (from new parents to grandparents) who've used ideas from books in this list with great success. Read some, read 'em all, because depending on the day, you may need a whole lotta tricks up your sleeve. If there's one thing I've learned about being a mom... you've gotta be a little crazy. Crazy like a fox! Good luck, and happy reading!!

  1. Discipline Without Tears by Rudolf Dreikurs
  2. Children: The Challenge by Rudolf Dreikurs - Highly recommended by a friend who says that it saves her sanity on a daily basis. It's waiting for me at the library right now.
  3. Parenting with Love & Logic by Foster Cline and Jim Fay- I've not read Cline and Fay yet, but have had several friends ask me if I have after witnessing how I handle my kids at the playground, etc. So, I've got it in my reading pile now — will be interesting to see what they say since I'm apparently already using their "method."
  4. Helicopters, Drill Sergeants & Consultants: Parenting Styles and the Messages They Send by Jim Fay- some of Fay's books come in audio and DVD versions too.
  5. Buddhism for Mothers: A Calm Approach to Caring for Yourself and Your Children- This book was great - a refreshing perspective on the challenges of parenting and the gift of childhood, what it can teach us, and how staying in the moment can help us help ourselves. She's also got one called "Becoming a Mindful Parent" that looks good, and is well-reviewed on Amazon.
  6. Your One Year Old by Louise Bates Ames(there are many years in this series - one book per each) - These books have some socially outdated text in them, but are great for outlining age-appropriate behavior for kids and periods of equilibrium/disequilibrium, and came highly recommended by a mom with four wonderful teenage children
  7. No More Misbehavin' by Michele Borba- straight-up practical ideas and plans for specific behavior issues - 38 to be exact. I'm reading this now.
  8. Parents Do Make A Difference by Michele Borba
  9. Hearing Is Believing: How Words Can Make or Break Our Kids by Elisa Medhus
  10. Raising Children Who Think For Themselves by Elisa Medhus
  11. How to Behave So Your Preschooler Will Too by Sal Severe(and the ... So Your Children Will Too version.) - Oh. I love these books. "Discipline is teaching kids good decision making." and "The time to prepare for adolescence is when your child is four." Brilliant, practical ideas here. Great ideas here for kids learning good choice vs. bad choice and owning the outcome
  12. Positive Discipline For Preschoolers by Jane Nelsen - Some good ideas and a lot of theory. Interesting. If you want to get practical ideas now, and don't have a lot of time to ponder, go with Severe or Borba, Fay or Dreikurs.
  13. Raising Your Spirited Child by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka- some great ideas, and a lot of theory. Heavy on the "specialness" of "spirited" children, or kids that are "more" (sensitive, perceptive, etc.)
  14. Supernanny: How to Get The Best From Your Children by Jo Frost- Quick and dirty, no nonsense ideas to hit the ground running with. Love the involvement technique, sleeping problems advice, whining, etc. Don't let her outdated ideas on breastfeeding put you off her otherwise good tips.
  15. Raising Our Children; Raising Ourselves by Naomi Aldort- love this one. Why you parent the way you do and what you need to "fix" in yourself to improve your own issues, not pass them on to your kids, and raise your kids well in the process.

Got a favorite book that's not on this list?? Please, do share!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Autumn Is Here... Hooray!

This little board book is a big deal in our house. After discovering it at the library a couple years ago, I had to buy it. Ann Burg paints an inviting picture of a little puppy going on a walk one beautiful Autumn evening in Autumn Walk.

She describes the colors wonderfully in her crimson and pumpkin gold world, and Burg's vivid language has kids crunching through the leaves too; "A whiff of apples and cinnamon toast, air that is corduroy cold."

As soon as the Summer is ending, we get this out, and don't stop reading it daily until the snow falls (and to be honest, we read it in other seasons too, when we miss our favorite season — Fall!)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Tales of Rowan Hood

Adventures in Sherwood Forest with the daughter of Robin Hood, and her band of merry outlaws... I love this series. I've not read any of the Rowan Hood series books by Nancy Springer to my kids yet, but a friend's 8-year old daughter loves them, so I wanted to check them out.

Rowan is a brave, smart and kind leader and a wonderful heroine, and Springer easily pulls readers in with her beautiful descriptions of Sherwood Forest, and adventure in spades. Rowan's father, the King of Thieves himself—Robin Hood, makes appearances in the stories too, and helps save the day occasionally. I've yet to finish the series, but this series is a fun twist on a classic tale.

I see these books being a big hit in our house in a few years.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Sisters Who Save The Day!

Kathy Tucker's retelling of a classic Chinese Folk Tale — The Seven Chinese Sisters has mesmerized Madeline. We've only had it two days, and I honestly couldn't guess how many times I've read it. She loves it.

And, why wouldn't she? In this tale, seven sisters live in a small house in the Chinese countryside (who knows where the parents are...) and they range in age from young woman to baby sister (who can't yet talk). Each sister has a special skill: for example, First Sister rides a scooter (cool!) with skill and super speed, Fourth Sister can talk to dogs, and Sixth Sister can make the most delicious noodle soup... which attracts a hungry dragon, who steals plump little Seventh Sister.

The girls use their special skills to outsmart and outmaneuver the dragon, and that's not even the end of the story... Beautifully illustrated by Grace Lin, this book will likely end up in our permanent collection.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Animalia — A Beautiful Alphabet

Graeme Base's Animalia is simply an amazing alphabet book. The rhyming prose is clever, funny, and full of rich vocabulary, and the illustrations are so beautiful. It's great fun to find all the things on the pages that begin with each letter... dragon, diamonds, donuts, dagger, dinosaur, dromedary... it's a visual and literary adventure. A feast for the eyes and ears!

Sadly, we have to return this to the library as there are many holds on it, but it's definitely a keeper, so I just need to get myself a copy soon!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Book Bag: August

August was all about folk and fairy tales, heroines, science, dinosaurs and Diego... the kids have also discovered Kipper and adore his tales, and I like the Kipper DVDs because the segments are about 12 minutes each (easy to dole out one or two "shows" without it being 40-60 mins). I also found several gems that have become favorites already... ****Marks our super-duper-extra faves, below!
  1. Vasilissa the beautiful : a Russian folktale / adapted by Elizabeth Winthrop****Baba Yaga in all her scary glory, Vasilissa's tale (like Cinderella but she saves herself) and gorgeous illustrations
  2. How the Amazon queen fought the prince of Egypt / Tamara Bower
  3. Diego saves the sloth! / by Alexis Romay
  4. Mrs. Wishy-Washy makes a splash! / Joy Cowley
  5. Shape by shape / Suse MacDonald. ****Shapes that slowly reveal a Brachiosaurus! How could you go wrong with this one??
  6. Diego and Papi to the rescue / by Wendy Wax
  7. Go Diego Go! The great dinosaur rescue
  8. Diego's wolf pup rescue / adapted by Christine Ricci
  9. Diego's safari rescue / adapted by Ligiah Villalobos
  10. A humpback whale tale / adapted by Justin Spelvin
  11. Go Diego go! Underwater mystery [videorecording]
  12. Dinosaur roar! / Paul & Henrietta Stickland.
  13. What lives in a shell? / by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld
  14. Air is all around you / by Franklyn M. Branley
  15. Starfish / by Edith Thacher Hurd ****I LOVE all of these Science for preschoolers series books, but Madeline especially loves this one!
  16. A nest full of eggs / by Priscilla Belz Jenkins
  17. Come to tea! : fun tea party themes, recipes, crafts, etiquette, and more / Stephanie Dunnewind ****An excellent book. Would make a great gift for any young girl who likes tea parties
  18. Kipper. Amazing discoveries! [videorecording]
  19. Kipper. Kipper helps out [videorecording]
  20. ABC / by Bruno Munari. ****Wonderful illustrations
  21. Bruno Munari's zoo / Bruno Munari
  22. Pictures from our vacation / Lynne Rae Perkins
  23. Mama played baseball / David A. Adler ****A mom who supports her family playing baseball while her husband is off fighting in WWII - great story, great history, amazing illustrations.
  24. At night / Jonathan Bean
  25. Dinosaur discoveries / by Gail Gibbons
  26. Dinosaurs! / by Gail Gibbons
  27. A child's day : an alphabet of play / Ida Pearle
  28. Jambo means hello; Swahili alphabet book / by Muriel Feelings
  29. The seven Chinese sisters / written by Kathy Tucker ; illustrated by Grace Lin ****I can't count the times I've read this one. Madeline adores it, and it's a great tale of girls who outsmart, and out-tough, a dragon!
  30. Monkey world / Matthew Porter ****Wonderfully poetic prose, beautiful illustrations and creative occupations!
  31. Animalia / Graeme Base ****Creative and breathtaking. A feast for the eyes.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

In "This Man's Army..."

If it weren't for the women, employed by "this mans' Army" (and other branches of the U.S. military) during WWII, the Allies wouldn't have had such great success. The Women of the WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) flew every type of mission except combat during WWII for the Army Air Corp. And, the WAC (Women's Army Corps) began in May of 1942 and also did all Army jobs except combat (stateside and overseas).

From Wikipedia: General Douglas MacArthur called the WACs "my best soldiers", adding that they worked harder, complained less, and were better disciplined than men.[6] Many generals wanted more of them and proposed to draft women but it was realised that this "would provoke considerable public outcry and Congressional opposition" and the War Department declined to take such a drastic step.[7] Those 150,000 women that did serve released the equivalent of 7 divisions of men for combat. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower said that "their contributions in efficiency, skill, spirit, and determination are immeasurable".[8] During the same time period, other branches of the U.S. military had similar women's units, including the Navy WAVES, the SPARS of the Coast Guard and the (civil) Women Airforce Service Pilots. The British Armed Forces also had similar units, including the Women's Auxiliary Air Force.

Two amazing young adult fiction books I read this summer teach the history of the WAC and WASP with flair (and both from the perspective of African American - or "Colored" at the time - women). I keep recommending (OK, nearly badgering) people to read both books.

Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith is the tale of Ida Mae passing as a white pilot to join the WASP during WWII. I loved the book so entirely that I emailed the author with my compliments. Ms. Smith was so nice, and recommended a few more books to me to read, including the amazing Mare's Ware by Tanita S. Davis. Mare's War flashes back and forth between the present day (complete with two I-Pod and cell-phone wielding teenagers) and the 1940's when Mare (Octavia and Tali's gramma) lied about her age in order to join the WAC (Women Army Corps). Both are stories of two strong, smart, hard-working women who are certainly heroines, and great role models for all young women.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

A Kindred Spirit

Tonight we read Bottle Houses: The Creative World of Grandma Prisbrey, by Melissa Eskridge Slaymaker and Julie Paschkis (and which I found by searching for more books illustrated by Paschkis). Madeline was enchanted, impressed, and obviously delighted. Tressa Prisby and Mads are kindred spirits for sure... she just made her "installations" on a larger scale and out of materials recycled from the city dump.

This is an absolutely fascinating story about Grandma Prisbrey and how her Bottle Village was created. I think we need to visit it in person!

Wonderful writing, great story, and amazingly beautiful illustrations. This one's already on it's way to our house from

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Book Bag: June & July

We were lucky enough to attend a Scholastic Warehouse Sale with Gramma at the start of summer, and the books that she gifted us with have been entertaining us greatly. I'll post some of them later this season as they are quickly become some of the kids' favorites.

Here's our library book bag for June/July (including some great educational DVDs) ****Faves detailed below:

  1. Sea horses / by Ann Herriges ****Madeline LOVED this one (of course)
  2. Noses / Daniel Nun
  3. From kernel to corn / by Robin Nelson
  4. Duck! Rabbit! / Amy Krouse Rosenthal
  5. Little Oink / by Amy Krouse Rosenthal****We all loved this silly, "backward" tale about cleaning up (in the vein of Little Pea -eating veggies, and Little Hoot -bedtime)
  6. The lady of ten thousand names : goddess stories from many cultures / retold by Burleigh Muten****Freya is one of the goddesses in this book, and I was reviewing it for a gift for a friend's newborn daughter. Neat book for older kids, and for a keepsake book.
  7. The rusty, trusty tractor / by Joy Cowley
  8. Words are not for hurting / by Elizabeth Verdick
  9. Llama Llama misses Mama / Anna Dewdney****Both kids loved this one about Llama Llama going to preschool.

  1. City of bees / Frejas Born Film and Sound****LOVED this one. Very interesting.
  2. Dirt monsters / Lolo Productions ; Totally Trucks****Cool trucks ABC's piece in this, and E adored this show.
  3. All about birds / National Geographic Kids
  4. Ocean life / produced by Lancit Media Productions Ltd.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

My Kinda Gals!

LOVE this book. LOVE it. Really. Adore it. The three little chicks in it remind me of Madeline, and my three nieces. Who are all good, but indeed do have moxie, and aren't really the demure, mild-mannered sort of gals. They're loud. They like mud, bugs and worms. They like to run around in their birthday suits pretending to be warrior princesses... In a word, they are glorious. Just like this book.

Tough Chicks by Cece Meng tells the story of three tough chicks who are not like the other "good" quiet and orderly chicks in the hen house. These chicks are curious, boisterous, inventive, loud, dare devilish, smart little cookies, who save the day (in spite of everyone telling their Mama to "make them be good!")

This book I will buy, and gift, to many, many children. Check it out.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Book Bag: May

The favorites by far in May were Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems, Imaginary Menagerie by Julie Larios, Wells' Ruby and Max tales, and Muncha Muncha Muncha by Candace Fleming. ****Faves detailed below:

  1. The curious garden / by Peter Brown.
  2. Knuffle Bunny : a cautionary tale / by Mo Willems. ****The kids could not get enough of this one. A fairly quick read, and they kept asking for it, over and over again. Luckily, I loved the story and illustrations too.
  3. Twist : yoga poems / written by Janet S. Wong ; illustrated by Julie Paschkis.
  4. The talking vegetables / retold by Won-Ldy Paye & Margaret H. Lippert ; illustrated by Julie Paschkis.
  5. The ultimate preschool playbook: easy, educational, and entertaining activities for your 2-5-year-old / Dorothy Einon. ****Great, fun stuff in this book! We've renewed it multiple times...
  6. Imaginary menagerie : a book of curious creatures / poems by Julie Larios ; paintings by Julie Paschkis. ****Mad loved the Trolls and Mermaids in this one, as usual the illustrations were the best!
  7. Bubbles, rainbows, and worms : science experiments for preschool children / Sam Ed Brown ****More great stuff in this one for the kiddos!
  8. Jellybeans / by Sylvia van Ommen.
  9. I love bugs! / by Philemon Sturges
  10. Bats at the beach /by Brian Lies
  11. Bunny mail / Rosemary Wells ****Max and Gramma shine in this one!
  12. Bunny money / Rosemary Wells
  13. Mrs. Wow never wanted a cow / by Martha Freeman
  14. Diary of a fly / by Doreen Cronin
  15. All in a day / by Cynthia Rylant
  16. Bunny cakes / by Rosemary Wells ****Both kids LOVED this one... the cakes were a hit, and all the boys I read it to said they'd want the mud cake with candies.
  17. Hip hop speaks to children : a celebration of poetry with a beat / editor, Nikki Giovanni****Fascinating (includes a CD as well)
  18. Hands are not for hitting / Martine Agassi
  19. Muncha! Muncha! Muncha! / by Candace Fleming ****Good rhyme and funny story - bunnies getting into an old man's garden, no matter what he does...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

My Favorite Cinderella...

I've always loved the feminist versions of Cinderella, like Cinder Edna by Ellen Jackson, Cindy Ellen by Susan Lowell, and others along the same vein, but this week found my very favorite Cinderella story — an amalgamation of the tale from 17 different countries, blended together beautifully in one book by amazing folk art illustrations on each page.

This book, by Paul Fleischman and Julie Paschkis shows Cinderella in Korea, Japan, Laos, Germany, Ireland, Iraq, France, West Indies, Mexico, India and Appalachia (among others)... the girl called Ashpet, Sootface, Cendrillon . . . and Cinderella.

It's a well-crafted story, but for me, the art by Paschkis makes the book, and after looking her up, I realized why... I love many of the other books that she's illustrated. Check them out right here.

This version focuses on her good nature, good attitude, and the good ending that comes of it all. A beautiful book with a map of the world (and the countries that the stories originate from) on the endpapers. A beautiful book. Another one that will have to eventually be added to our own home library!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Kids in the Kitchen

Pretend Soup by Mollie Katzen, and Katzen's newer, Salad People are excellent cookbooks to use with preschoolers. Our two-year-old, Erik loves these books and they are equally appealing to adults.

Each recipe is spread over four pages, with ingredients, tips, set up and "kids tasks" all laid out, including a two-page spread for each recipe that shows the recipe steps by illustration (easy for kids to "read" the recipe as they follow along).

Fun, colorful veggie and fruit, soup, bread, breakfast "cookies," etc. recipes are good, healthy, real food NOT "kid food" full of sugar or the odd standbys of hot dog creations or mac and cheese.

We already bought Salad People, and gave another copy away as a birthday gift to friends. Pick these books up - they're great!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Giggles Galore!

The kids' new love is Knock Knock jokes, but they don't exactly "get" them yet... meaning that any answer can crack them up really. So, a knock knock joke book for older kids isn't that engaging.

However, this lift-the-flap book — Knock, Knock! Who's There? My First Book of Knock-Knock Jokes by Tad Hills (of the Duck and Goose series books) is perfect. It cracks them up, and each joke is a two-page spread with a flap to lift to reveal the punch line. It was an instant favorite. We already own it, it's that good. And, Erik sleeps with it under his pillow.

"Knock, Knock"
"Who's There?"
"Luke, who?"
"Look out below!"
"Yikes!" (as a duck comes flying out of the sky...)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Book Bag: April

I love the story my friend Susan tells about her niece; seeing all the dandelions in Susan's yard (gone to seed) the sweet girl gasped in delight and said, "Aunt Susan! You have a WISH Garden!!"

Madeline shares this delight for dandelions (don't most little girls?) so Dandelions: Star in the Grass is the perfect read for us! It's going on our "to own" list... We're also loving Ladybug Girl, and Cowboy Kate and Cocoa (again - the first go-round on these was about 9 months ago), and a whole passel of new books too. (Books beloved by my babes are marked with ****)

  1. Dandelions : stars in the grass / Mia Posada.****
  2. Ernie dances to the didgeridoo : for the children of Gunbalanya / Alison Lester
  3. Ladybug Girl and Bumblebee Boy / David Soman****Ladybug Girl organizes a Bug Squad, and saves the day!
  4. Ladybug Girl / David Soman**** The original and best - we love this tale of imaginative solo play and she's a tough little gal!
  5. Gardening with kids / Sharon MacLatchie.
  6. Bugs up close / Diane Swanson
  7. Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa : rain or shine / Erica Silverman****
  8. Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa : school days / Erica Silverman**** Mads' faves since she was two - horses, a ranch and a cowgirl, how could you go wrong??
  9. Bugs : poems about creeping things / David L. Harrison
  10. Why do we see rainbows? / Melissa Stewart.
  11. Pretend soup and other real recipes : a cookbook for preschoolers & up / Mollie Katzen****Cooking fun in the kitchen with Mama!
  12. Skunk's spring surprise / Lesléa Newman
  13. The happy day / Ruth Krauss****Sweet, simple, with a surprise ending! Black and white with a touch of color on the last page (filled with animals too).
  14. The wish / Elle van Lieshout
  15. Counting in the garden / Kim Parker.****The watercolor illustrations please Madeline.
  16. Polar Polka : counting polar bears in Alaska / Chérie B. Stihler
  17. A fire engine for Ruthie / Lesléa Newman****Fave of both kids - this tale of a girl whose gramma finally gives in to her love of "boy" toys, and has a blast!
  18. Raindrop, plop! / Wendy Cheyette Lewison
  19. Cindy Ellen : a wild western Cinderella / Susan Lowell****A recommendation from Aunt Shannon that we LOVE!! A spunky twist on Cinderella. Cinderella with True Grit... how can you not love it?
  20. The gingerbread man / Eric Blair
  21. Mary Engelbreit's Mother Goose / Mary Engelbreit
  22. The gruffalo / Julia Donaldson****A classic favorite for us! Clever little mouse outfoxes everyone, even when faced with a surprise.
  23. Goldilocks and the three bears / retold and illustrated by Valeri Gorbachev
  24. Mother Goose numbers on the loose / Leo & Diane Dillon
  25. Goldilocks and the three bears : a classic fairy tale / illustrated by Charlotte Roederer****Loving the classics right now...
  26. The three little pigs / Paul Galdone
  27. Lentil / Robert McCloskey****McCloskey can't lose in our house.
  28. On the day I was born / Debbi Chocolate
  29. The apple doll / Elisa Kleven****Fun directions on making an apple doll are included
  30. Jack and the beanstalk / retold by Richard Walke****A great version of this story (the illustrations are really fun and whimsical).
  31. Momo's kitten / Mitsu and Taro Yashima
  32. Lemons are not red / Laura Vaccaro Seeger
  33. Perfectly Martha / Susan Meddaugh
  34. 26 letters and 99 cents / Tana Hoban
****And we LOVE the Signing Time DVD series by Two Little Hands Productions. They teach ASL is such a clear, fun, and easy-to-remember style. It's fun to have the kids learning new signs (to add to the ones they learned as babies/toddlers).
  • Signing time. Series 2, volume 3, Move and groove / Two Little hands Productions
  • Signing time. [Volume 8], The great outdoors / Two Little Hands Productions
  • Signing time! Volume 6, My favorite things / Two Little Hands Productions

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Book Bag: March

I love how I quite often just stop at a shelf in the library and pick out several books that are exactly fitting for us at the time. The Apple Pie That Papa Baked... just in time for Pi Day. Those Darn Squirrels... well, if you know us, you know that's always fitting. Klippity Klop - suits M's love of We're Going on A Bear Hunt, and includes a dragon, knight and horses.

More details from our March Book Bag... the especially beloved (by my tykes) are marked with ****

  1. Flat Stanley / Jeff Brown****A Classic, and they love it - silly and fun.
  2. The letters are lost! / Lisa Campbell Ernst
  3. Wake up, it's spring! / Lisa Campbell Ernst
  4. Fin M'Coul : the giant of Knockmany Hill / Tomie de Paola
  5. Llama, llama red pajama / Anna Dewdney.****I think they like this one because they think it's silly that the Llama freaks out when his mom doesn't immediately run to his bidding... of course that doesn't stop them from doing the same.
  6. Grace for president / Kelly DiPucchio
  7. G is for one gzonk : an alpha-number-bet book / Tiny DiTerlooney
  8. Being honest / Jill Lynn Donahue
  9. The bouncing, dancing, galloping ABC / Charlotte Doyle
  10. Clara Caterpillar / Pamela Duncan Edwards****WONDERFUL book filled to the brim with "C" words. Amazing vocabulary building, bright and beautiful illustrations, and great message about individuality... this one's a keeper. (Some Smug Slug, and Four Famished Foxes and Fosdyke are also fab books by this author.)
  11. Klippity klop / Ed Emberley**** Sweet little book, reminiscent of Going On A Bear Hunt, with great line-drawing illustrations
  12. Scoot! / Cathryn Falwell
  13. Meerkat mail / Emily Gravett
  14. Orange pear apple bear / Emily Gravett
  15. Owen's marshmallow chick / Kevin Henkes.**** Haven't found a Henkes book yet that we don't like...
  16. Grump groan growl / Bell Hooks
  17. Nora's stars / Satomi Ichikawa
  18. My pig Amarillo / Satomi Ichikawa
  19. Lili at ballet / Rachel Isadora
  20. Uh-oh! / Rachel Isadora
  21. Not just tutus / Rachel Isadora.
  22. Papa do you love me? / Barbara Joosse****Gorgeous illustrations and poetic story. They are fascinated by Africa
  23. Froggy eats out / Jonathan London
  24. Chinatown / William Low
  25. Elephant quilt : stitch by stitch to California! / Susan Lowell
  26. Kanu of Kathmandu : a journey in Nepal / Barbara A. Margolies.
  27. Those darn squirrels! / Adam Rubin **** LOVE this book. It's hilarious.
  28. What did you put in your pocket? / Beatrice Schenk de Regniers
  29. Doo-Wop Pop / Roni Schotter **** Great rhythm and beat, beautiful illustrations, and a wonderful message.
  30. The apple pie that papa baked / Lauren Thompson**** Great rhyme. Fun illustrations, and the kids are captivated by the Papa baking a pie...
  31. Little Quack's bedtime / Lauren Thompson**** Little Quack is well loved in our house. The kids can't get enough of this book.
  32. Max counts his chickens / Rosemary Wells

Monday, March 2, 2009

Book Bag: February

We had a party at our place today to celebrate and read! Nine kids and eight readers, plus Seussian treats made for lots of fun. Happy Birthday to Dr. Seuss, or as this excellent dedication says, from Wild About Books (thank you for this amazing book, Gramma!!) "This book is for our favorite doctor, artist, poet, fun concocter: Theodor Seuss Geisel, 1904-1991 - Judy Sierra and Marc Brown

More fabulous reads from our February Book Bag... the especially beloved (by my tykes) are marked with ****

  1. Mouse mess / Linnea Riley.
  2. Don't let the pigeon drive the bus / Mo Willems. **** (yeah, who doesn't LOVE this book?)
  3. The squiggle / Carole Lexa Schaefer
  4. Stargazing sky / Deborah Kogan Ray.
  5. We've all got bellybuttons! / David Martin
  6. Ella takes the cake / Carmela & Steven D'Amico.****
  7. Ella the elegant elephant / Carmela & Steven D'Amico.****
  8. Time to say please! / Mo Willems.
  9. Carousel / Brian Wildsmith.
  10. One naked baby : counting to ten and back again / Maggie Smith.**** (this counting book has been a fave since Madeline was 15 months old)
  11. Sheep in a jeep / Nancy Shaw**** (The rhyme and rhythm of this one is superb)
  12. Dinosaur! / Peter Sis.
  13. Sorting toys / by Jennifer L. Marks.
  14. Snow / Joan Clark
  15. Miss Spider's ABC / David Kirk.
  16. Night of the moonjellies / Mark Shasha. **** (I love this one too!! A young boy learning an excellent work ethic by helping his family run their business. Beautiful story and illustrations.)
  17. Piggies / Don and Audrey Wood
  18. Polar bear, polar bear, what do you hear? / Bill Martin, Jr.
  19. Bigmama's / Donald Crews
  20. Froggy gets dressed / Jonathan London**** (It's the Fuh-ROGGGGYYYYY!!! And forgetting his underwear. Slays them every time...)
  21. My book box / Will Hillenbrand
  22. Pinkalicious / Victoria Kann and Elizabeth Kann**** (Cupcakes. Little brother gets the "last word.")
  23. Lickety-split / Robert Heidbreder**** (Action, wonderful vocabulary, engaging illustrations, and little brother gets the "last word.")

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!

Our stack of Seuss books was only a very small number of the books devoured at today's Seuss-stravaganza! I found Lilly in the hall, with Funny Face, and Charlotte was engrossed in Winnie the Pooh's ABC's, while Madeline followed The Little Mermaid while waiting for the Green Eggs & Ham cake to be cut. Four-month old Alexandria let me read eight board books to her before she needed to do something else. She loves Hand, Hand, Fingers Thumb as much as I do (although I don't usually feel the urge to chew on the book...), and 4-year old Gavino enjoyed a few of the stories I picked for Alexandria too.
Gramma and Grampa both read books to any kids that wanted to climb on up and listen, and Mad & G especially love one of our all-time faves... The Paperbag Princess. Lilly and Ben enjoyed some Green Egg cookies at the kids' table while checking out Go Dog, Go! and other fun board books. Rochelle and Gramma both read Big Plans to the kids... one of our very favorite new books.

Thanks to everyone who helped celebrate Read Across America Day with us today. March is Reading Month, so add a few extra books every day to what you read to your kids. And remember, you are never too little to enjoy a good book (just look at wee Alexandria's concentration). If you haven't yet done it today... share some books with someone small!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

"I'm In," says the Mynah Bird

It's got a Mynah bird, a take-charge little boy with Big Plans (Big Plans, I say!), big imagination, and is chock-full of excellent illustrations, vocabulary and is a hoot to read.

The kids' newest fave is written by Bob Shea and lucky for us, I found it in the book bin at QFC for keeps!

His stinky skunk hat is fabulous too (although it isn't too obvious whether or not he "makes" it himself, but the tongue lolling out of the corner of the mouth is funny to Joel and I, even if the kids don't get it.) You gotta love subtlety.

And, I can't read this without "Bird Is The Word" playing in my head: "The Bird, the bird, the bird is the word..."

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Pink Delicious!!

When Madeline was almost two, she called Pinkalicious by Victoria & Elizabeth Kann "Pink Delicious." Although, I must admit, I wasn't the world's biggest fan of this book. I tend to avoid any books that refer to veggies as "yucky" in any way. So, I just skipped over those bits.

Fast-forward to last week when we are eating dinner and M refuses to eat her veggies. (This is my girl who adores veggies.) "Yuck! Green food!" What? I asked her. You are the one who chose these baby zucchini from the produce section, remember? Then, I discovered they'd read Pinkalicious at school. Aha! So, I got it from the library to read at home, and I have to say that this book has grown on me.
I read the whole book now, verbatim, but we discuss how silly it is to not like grapes, pickles, peas, cucumbers, broccoli, etc. And, the kids continue to adore Pinkalicious. Erik especially loves it — I think because the little brother "wins" in the end, or so E believes. He said, while chuckling like a fiend the other morning, "Duh liddle bruh-ther got the last cupcake!!"

So, today we made some fun treats, inspired by "Pink Delicious"... Erik loved his, and Mad loved helping decorate, and practicing her letters in sprinkles. And, yes, the cupcakes are pink inside too. Strawberry, but of course!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Delicious, Action-Packed, and Dynamic

We've got nearly 50 books out from the library this week, and only three are mine, so we've been busy with fun new reads! One of the kids' faves is Food for thought by Saxton Freymann, which is also reviewed on James Patterson's ReadKiddoRead site (marvelous resource for finding excellent kids' books). This site recommendation is from my friend, and fellow book-lover, Jerrie. The kids adore the inventive, bright, engaging food-as-art in this clever, and very comprehensive book.

And, Jerrie also gave me the book Picture Books by Ruth Culham, which is an annotated bibliography for teachers. In it, we found two additional faves this week: Hoops by Robert Burleigh (if you like basketball, you'll love this great descriptive and poetic book), and Many Luscious Lollipops by Ruth Heller (covers many great advectives with wonderful illustrations).

Friday, January 30, 2009

Book Bag: January

I love our online library account. I log in to it daily to manage our lending, and one of the neat features is "History" which allows me to save what we've checked out. So, I'm going to start posting some of our faves from each month's book bag. Here's our January selection, with *** on the kids' extra-super favorite recommendations!

  1. ***The red lemon / by Bob Staake (very original with great illustrations & text)
  2. Disney's Winnie the Pooh's valentine / by Bruce Talkington
  3. Richard Scarry's The great pie robbery : and other mysteries.
  4. Mouse's first valentine / Lauren Thompson
  5. Cookies : bite-size life lessons / written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
  6. ***How do I put it on? : getting dressed / story by Shigeo Watanabe
  7. Manuelo the playing mantis / Don Freeman.
  8. ***Your favorite Seuss / [compiled] by Janet Schulman and Cathy Goldsmith ; illustrated by Dr. Seuss
  9. Japan ABCs : a book about the people and places of Japan / written by Sara Hiemen
  10. ***Kallaloo! : a Caribbean tale / by David and Phillis Gershator (A fun twist on the Stone Soup theme)
  11. ***Alphabatics / Suse Macdonald. (Very cool "acrobatic" letters that morph into something symbolizing their sound)
  12. ***People patterns / by Nathan Olson.
  13. ***Trashy town / Andrea Zimmerman and David Clemesha (Stop! Throw it in, Smash it down, Drive around the trashy town... Please! Don't all kids LOVE this one?)
  14. ***Red is best / story, Kathy Stinson
  15. The seals on the bus / by Lenny Hort
  16. ***The lady with the alligator purse / adapted and illustrated by Nadine Bernard Westcott (Who doesn't love this song? And, the kids love the silly illustrations.)
  17. Martin's Big words : the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. / Doreen Rappaport
  18. Mike Mulligan and his steam shovel / story and pictures by Virginia Lee Burton.
  19. All the colors of the Earth / Sheila Hamanaka.
  20. ***Brave Irene / by William Steig. (This wee heroine has pluck, moxie... she's tough as nails, and clever too)
  21. Ask Mr. Bear / story and pictures by Marjorie Flack.
  22. ***Animals should definitely not wear clothing, written by Judi Barrett
  23. Mama zooms / written and illustrated by Jane Cowen-Fletcher.
  24. City 123 / Zoran Milich.
  25. ***Dim sum for everyone / Grace Lin. (Erik can't get enough of this dim sum lunch adventure)
  26. Cherry pies and lullabies / Lynn Reiser.
  27. ***The funny little woman / by Arlene Mosel (And, Madeline is fascinated by the "evil Oni" who capture the little woman simply to have her cook for them... "But, they have the magic paddle that does the rice cooking. Why can't they do it themselves?")
  28. Whose mouse are you? / by Robert Kraus


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