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

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Joy, Happiness and the Love of Reading

Joy, over at the blog Joy's Hope, is kicking off the Happy Day Project with a week's worth of do-good activites to spread some sunshine, love and joy in your corner of the world next week.
Here's what they are doing, but you can switch it up however you want. I'll be doing something more related to books for kids/families, and since our school is having the Scholastic Book Fair this week, I can stock up on some books...
So, think about what you'll do next week, and join in the fun of spreading some love around to kick off the holiday season! Cheers!!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

There Is a Bird on Your Head, and other stories...

Madeline's very favorite books to read are the Elephant & Piggie series by Mo Willems. And for good reason; they are hilarious, clever, and lively. I love that they are teaching her to read conversations, and she's reading with expression because the illustrations are so very expressive! She also noticed that the quotes for each character are the same color as the animal; Piggie's are pink, Gerald's are gray, the snake's are green, etc.
She loves reading them any time at all... even at the breakfast table to the rest of us. We're going to empty the library shelves... I love books that kids can read (and giggle, chuckle and chortle over) and that make me smile and laugh out loud too. Love 'em!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


This was just about the perfect bedtime story for tonight! Sometimes I'm BOMBALOO by Rachel Vail, is the story of a little girl, who is usually a very good little girl, but sometimes gets very angry and growlish and full of stomps and monster-mean feelings and she's... Bombaloo!

Being Bombaloo is scary, she says, and since Erik was 100% Bombaloo this evening, I asked him if he ever feels like this. "No. Never," he said.

"Really?!" I asked; incredulous.

"Yeah. I'd never throw my clothes all over my room like her. I like my clothes," he claimed. And, so we had to talk about sweet and happy/cooperative/in control vs. "bombaloo," angry, mad, kicking, yelling, mad at mom, etc. "Oh. That. Like tonight. Yeah, sometimes I guess I am Bombaloo and it's scary because it's hard to stop being mad. But, if I settle down, then think about it, then I can practice a different way. And, you help me."

Yes, indeed. We'll be reading this one often before returning it to the library.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Old Man Fookwire & his squirrels

We adore Those Darn Squirrels by Adam Rubin. I'd read it to to the kids as toddlers, and the story delighted our crew. Then, a few weeks ago, Madeline told me that they got to vote on their favorite of three library books. She chose this book. "Oh! I love that book," I said. And, so I had to pick it up at the library.

The illustrations are so clever and detailed. The kids love that the squirrels have squirreled away everything from loose change and buttons to a fancy diamond ring! And, perhaps our favorite part is the late-night planning session that the squirrels hold, fueled by salt and vinegar chips and cherry cola to "keep them awake." Love it. Erik adores the fact that they wear tiny helmets when attempting to get at the bird feeders, and the kids just think "old man Fookwire" is a humorous fellow.

I love the language in this story, the humor, and the fact that it tells the story of a guy "older than dirt" who can change his ways (a little) with a little kindness and time. Definitely check this one out!

Monday, April 4, 2011

A few of her favorite things...

... to read, that is.

Miss Madeline is delighted to be able to read on her own, and we are constantly tickled by the fact that our "baby" is reading. For me, first steps, first words, they're nice, but reading? That's the more exciting milestone!

And, a few of her favorites are three series that we discovered at our library: We Both Read, I'm Going To READ, and the flip-a WORD books.

We Both Read books
have a parent page and a kid page, and so far, Madeline's favorite is The Big Tan Van by Sindy McKay. Similar books are available, divided by reading level.

The "I'm Going To READ!" books are great because they're organized by "Word Bank" in addition to reading-level, and they're a little more challenging than the standard first readers. They feature additional sight and high-frequency words in each story, and the illustrations are bright and fun too.

And, finally, Yukiko Kido's "flip-a-WORD" books are really fun for learning word groups, phonics, and rhyming. They are simple enough for our four-year-old to practice reading with his sister, and with their bold illustrations and clever (and silly) sentences, interesting enough for the Kindergartner.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Chapter Books: Tales of Adventure and History

Wow, I'm so glad that we jumped into chapter books. I'd tried Junie B. Jones with Madeline a full year ago and she was completely uninterested. Then, a few months later, the Ivy & Bean series was a big hit with her; although not very compelling reading for me, nor attention-grabbing for her brother. There had to be something out there that would suit us all...

There is, namely; Peter and the Starcatchers series by Dave Barry & Ridley Pearson, and the classic Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. The perfect combination of adventure and history for all of us. Barry and Ridley's Peter took us on a wild ride from London to Mollusk Island, aboard ship and swimming with mermaids. By the end, you see beautifully how Peter Pan came about. The kids hang on every word, recall the story beautifully, ask great questions and are learning some fabulous vocabulary. And, really, what little kid wouldn't think Mrs. Bumbrake's name funny? We've blown through book one and two (Peter and the Shadow Thieves) in the series, and even our 4-year old can't get enough.

As for the Little House books, we adore them. The kids play "Little House" now, with Erik pretending to be Pa and "shoot bears and get meat," and Madeline talks about getting "ducked" in the creek and making butter. The stories infuse their play and they've learned all about wild things like log cabins, covered wagons, and our country's unjust treatment of Native Americans. They also marvel at the simple way of life (and few treats and presents), and the joy and gratitude of the Ingalls girls.

So, on we go to book three of Peter Pan's tales of adventure (Peter and the Secret of Rundoon), at the same time that we are meandering through On The Banks of Plum Creek. Yes, the kids keep the stories straight, even while listening to both books and, yes, sometimes I read ahead after they're asleep because I enjoy the books that much. We love them so much that I also get the books on CD so that we can listen in the car while driving. Three cheers for beautiful literature (and audio books too)!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Sproing!! Spring...

I adore Rhythm of the Home. And, the new Spring edition is perfect for reading and planning on these first, blustery March days. There are so many great crafting, gardening, creating, exploring, and celebrating ideas in this issue... Enjoy!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Grit and Guile

Last week I organized our elementary school's Book Rodeo (book swap) and it was so fun. With my friend Joy (who also regularly maxs out her library account) I sorted more than 2,000 books. We got about 1,600 books out to kids/families/teachers, and there are 700 left in the teachers' lounge for them to choose from, and the remainder will be donated to charity.

Out of this mountain of children's books, I've found many gems, including Anne Isaac's Pancakes for Supper! which is a fabulous version of the classic Little Black Sambo.

Of course, in this version, little Toby is the heroine, riding with her parents in their wagon across wild New England to move to a new town.

She outfoxes several wild animals that wish her harm, and in the end has pancakes for supper, just like Sambo in the original. But, Toby enjoys real maple syrup straight from the tree, around the campfire, which is even more fun.

And, the gorgeous illustrations by Mark Teague make this beautiful story come alive on the pages. There is even a recipe for pancakes on the back cover (and instructions on decorating them into "pancake animals" with fruit pieces).

This has trumped my previous favorite re-telling of the story, by Helen Bannerman (The Story of Little Black Sambo) which is set in India. Isaacs' tale features a fabulously tough little gal, with whom my kiddos (and I) instantly fell in love.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Adventures with Book Frog

We had a special visitor this week at our house... Book Frog! He lives in M's Kindergarten class, but gets to have exciting adventures each week when he goes home with kids to learn more about them and their families.

Madeline was very excited to have him hang out with us. She had him work on her math homework with her (she LOVES math),
I especially love this shot because she looks so little in it (shh... don't tell her!) I love the idea of Book Frog. She took the responsibility very seriously, but also had a lot of fun with it. She even built him a tiny fort with a bed in it.
She read some of her Dick and Jane books to him (it's so very exciting to watch her READING!), with me and her Papa, and I read Henry Hikes to Fitchburg by D.B. Johnson, and Courage by Bernard Waber to the kids and Book Frog.
And, we got snow! Book Frog just might have snuck out of M's bed while she was sleeping, so he could go sledding... Wheeee............. (he was very responsible about putting on some baby mittens and a tiny hat though).
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