Monday, July 15, 2013

Love That Dog and Hate That Cat by Sharon Creech

Love that Dog and Hate that Cat
by Sharon Creech

Looking for a great way to introduce your kids to more poetry? My kids and I just finished reading Love That Dog and listening to the audio book of Hate That Cat.  Both of these wonderful stories are narrated through first person poems by, Jack, the main character. Jack initially is skeptical of the new poetry unit, but soon learns to love, understand and write poetry. Creech uses other well-known poets poems throughout the story to illustrate different poetic ideas.  Having just done poetry with my three kids (first, second and fourth grades) the poetic elements discussed in the stories (metaphor, simile, onamoapia, and alliteration) were a great reinforcement of ideas they learned at school. These two books show kids that poetry is everywhere and can be written in many different ways. Creech is a brilliant author (check out her other books!) which is apparent in these two funny, heartwarming, and educational books.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Review -- My Side of the Mountain by Stetson age 10

by Jean Craighead George 

Sam Gribley runs away from his home in New York and lives in the Catskill Mountains and this book is about how he survives using plants and trapping animals.  He creates a shelter in a tree and stores nuts and deer meat for the winter. He eats what the animals are eating and he knows that meat is usually good for you. Sam wants to live on Gribley farm, in the Catskill Mountains, because that is where his Great-Great-Grandfather lived and flattened and cleared the land. He doesn't like life in NY because he has five brothers and sisters and they live in a tiny apartment. Sam abducts a falcon from a nest and raises it, trains it and names it Frightful. Once during the winter he doesn't get any vitamin C and starts to get sick, but then goes to the library in a nearby town and learns that liver has vitamin C and he eats liver for three days and gets better. Will he survive? Read the book to find out!

My favorite part was when Sam tried to steal Frightful from the falcon's nest. The mother falcon comes and attacks him, but Sam gets away by sliding down the mountain.  Sam wants a falcon to capture food for him. I liked this book because it was exciting, there was a lot of suspense because you didn't know if he was going to survive or not. I liked how it was set outside because I like to be outside. I would recommend this book to kids who like adventure books and survival books.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Tedd Arnold -- Illustrator of the Goggly Eyes!

Tedd Arnold's unique illustrations (with goggly eyes) and humorous stories make a perfect combination!  His well known series, Fly Guy, is wonderful for kids on the verge of reading.  In addition to his Fly Guy series Arnold has a many other wonderful picture books!

Parts (and sequels) -- a young boy is worried when things start to fall out of his belly button, his nose, his hair.... What is wrong with him!?!  Is he falling apart?  Kids will love this hilarious take on things that happen to our bodies!

Jumping on the Bed  -- Walter cannot resist the lure of jumping on his bed even though he knows he should not. Or course, once he starts jumping he can't stop even when the bed collapses and he falls slowly floor by floor through his apartment building accompanied by his various neighbors.

Green Wilma -- Wilma wakes up one day green and with a appetite for flies.  Her parents try to keep her home from school, but Wilma insists on attending.  During the day she manages to cause a disaster in the cafeteria, eat a fly off her teacher and inspire her classmates to paint themselves green.  A fun, whimsical book with fabulous illustrations and a surprise ending!

The Twin Princes -- When two twin princes are born and no one remembers who was born first, the king must decide which son should rule.  He plans an unorthodox horse race with the one who comes in last winning.  A funny and clever, and perhaps slightly complicated, story with many puns and riddles.

Detective Blue -- Detective Blue is on the case!  In this inventive detective story Detective Blue must find the missing Miss Muffet. As he searches for clues he interviews many different nursery rhyme characters.  A fun book for kids and parents as they try to identify the various rhymes referenced.  Having a book of the original nursery rhymes nearby while reading this book would be a great idea!

Huggly Gets Dressed -- A monster from under the bed decides to dress up in human clothes.  Kids will love the fun illustrations in this charming book. Arnold has written several additional stories about Huggly trying out new things in the human world.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Five Fantastic Books about Dogs

Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion, Illustrations by Margaret Bloy Graham -- An oldie, but a goodie!  The classic story of Harry, who hates to take baths, learning being dirty is not all it's cracked up to be!

How to Be a Good Dog by Gail Page -- a comical book about a dog who tries so hard to be good. Very fun colorful illustrations. My favorite part is Ms. Birdhead, his owner, who actually wears a bird on her head!

Buster by Denise Fleming -- Buster is not excited about the surprise his owner "Brown Shoes" brings home.  He is determined not to notice his new roommate, until she comes to rescue and he realizes that sometimes it's nice to have a new friend.

Superdog by Carolyn Buehner, Illustrated by Mark Buehner -- Chester is tired of being told he is too small and getting picked on. He decides to take matters into his own hands and become a superhero! Instead of worrying about being picked on, he sets out to help others.  Of course, in the end the cat who picked on him is the one who ends up needing help.

Taxi Dog by Debra Barracca, illustrated by Mark Buehner -- Maxi the taxi dog loves his new owner and riding around in his taxi.  They pick up all kinds of interesting and unusual fares as they travel around exciting New York City.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Humorous Historical Fiction

These books, each unique and wonderful in their own right, take us along with our heroes on their  boyhood adventures. Taking place during the early and mid 1900's and written in the 1950's, be forwarned that stereotypes and prejudice abound. However these all provide great opportunities for discussion and learning. I read all these books growing up and loved every one!  They are wonderful stories to share with the whole family. Both The Great Brain and Henry Huggins have wonderful audio books -- perfect for summer vacation!

Homer Price by Robert McCloskey-- Six humorous stories of a young boy growing up in a small Midwestern town.  Homer's idyllic hometown is the perfect setting for quirky characters, humorous episodes and mysterious occurances.

Soup by Robert Newton Peck-- One of my absolute favorites as a kid!  Robert Newton Peck relates his misadventures growing up with his best friend Soup on a farm in rural Vermont during the 1920's. Told from the point of view of Rob, Soup's best friend, the stories relate bad choices made and lessons learned, all with lots of humor thrown in. A great book to read aloud! For cautious parents look out for prejudice, spanking, and the boys trying smoking for the first time. The first of a series.

The Great Brain by John D. Fitzgerald, illustrated by Mercer Mayer-- JD must contend with his brother The Great Brain who attempts to swindle every kid in town. JD's friends and family know The Great Brain is up to no good, but never seem to be able to catch him in the act.  Hilarious stories of early frontier life in Utah. Be cautioned that issues such as drowning and suicide are dealt with in this book. They are portrayed in a matter of fact and somewhat humorous way which seems consistent with the time period when death was probably much more of a matter of fact occurrence. The first in a series.

Henry Huggins by Bevery Cleary -- Henry is the wonderful male counterpart to Beverly Cleary's timeless character Romona.  (If you have not read the Ramona series-- you must!).  Henry is his own lovable character trying to make the right choices and getting into trouble while doing just that.  With his trusty companion Ribsy at his side Henry takes on the challenges of growing up.  First in a series.

If your kids are assigned historical fiction reading this summer, you can't go wrong with anyone of these wonderful books!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Fun Historical Books for a New England Vacation

Our family recently rented an RV and took a fabulous road trip up the New England coast. We planned to visit the historic Mystic Seaport in Connecticut and to do the Freedom Trail in Boston. Since I’m a huge history lover I wanted the kids to have some historical context before we started on our journey.  To prepare the kids I checked out some great books from the library.

Liberty or Death: The American Revolution 1763-1783 by Betsy Maestro and Giulio Maestro -- This colorful book provides a easy to understand narrative of the events leading up to the Revolutionary War.

Those Rebels, John and Tom by Barbara Kerley, Illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham. A fun book highlighting the differences between John and Tom and how their different personalities helped to start a revolution.

The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, graved and painted by Christopher Bing. A lovely book illustrating the famous story of Paul Revere's midnight ride. My kids loved this one.

You Wouldn’t Want to be at the Boston Tea Party! Wharf Water Tea You’d Rather Not Drink by Peter Cook, Illustrated by David Antram -- If you're not familiar with this wonderful series, check it out!  My kids love the gruesome descriptions and cartoonish pictures.  Presents history in a fun and engaging way.

John, Paul, George and Ben by Lane Smith. A hilarious look at the quirks of the founding fathers.  Kids will love the scene where Paul uses his loud voice to order extra large underwear!

George vs. George The American Revolution as Seen From Both Sides. By Rosalyn Schanzer. An interesting book that shows the revolution from the sides of both Georges.

You Wouldn’t Want to Sail on a 19th-Century Whaling Ship! Grisly Tasks You’d Rather Not Do. By Peter Cook, illustrated by David Antram -- Another great book in the You Wouldn't Want To Series. Bonus--When we went to Mystic my seven year old was able to answer questions about whaling!

Whale Port by Mark Foster, Illustrated by Gerald Foster -- a beautifully illustrated book about the busy life in a 1600’s whaling port.  For early readers the many wonderful detailed illustrations will keep them entertained.  For older readers the text is informative and engaging.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

It's so Amazing! Sharing with your children how our amazing body works!

I just read an interesting quote about kids and sex education--it's never too early, but it can definitely be too late!  Here are some great books that cover changing bodies, growing up and sexual health.  The first three books are part of a series, each appropriate for a different age group.  I like how this series presents information in a simple no nonsense manner that is easy for kids to understand and makes the topics easy for parents to talk about.  The last two books focus not on sex, but on puberty, your changing body, and how to take care or yourself.

It's Not the Stork: A Book About Babies, Bodies, Families and Friends by Robie H Harris, illustrated by Michael Emberley -- This book is recommmended for ages four through seven.  It covers the differences between boys and girls bodies and how boys and girls look different as they grow older.  Basic information on the journey of the egg and sperm is included, as well as how babies grow inside a women's uterus. Lastly the book covers different kinds of families and okay touches and not okay touches. Written in a straightforward manner, this book provides kids with an understanding of their bodies and encourages them to be proud of what their amazing body can do. A great book for curious kids!

It's So Amazing! A Book About Eggs, Sperm, Birth, Babies and Families by Robie H. Harris, illustrated by Michael Emberley -- This book is recommended for kids ages eight to ten.  It continues in much the same vein as the pervious book in the series just going into a bit more detail. A great book that can lead to important conversations with your kids.

It's Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, and Sexual Health by Robie H. Harris, illustrated by Michael Emberley -- This book is recommended for ages ten and up and covers a wide range of topics. Less emphasis is given on the growth of a baby inside the uterus (hopefully your kids know all that by now!) and more information is given on topics like: puberty, different kids of families, homosexuality, birth control, abortion, sexual abuse, sexually transmitted diseases, making good choices and staying healthy. Kids generally know what information they can handle when and this book, with such a wide range of important topics, makes it a great book to share a little bit at a time.

American Girl has a great series for girls about taking care of their bodies called The Care and Keeping of You by Valorie Schaefer, illustrated by Norm Bendell. This book covers body basics, how your body is changing, eating disorders, fitness and emotional changes that occur when you are going through puberty. One thing I like about this book is that it encourages girls to take control and be proud of their bodies even when they may start to feel out of control. A great book for young girls.
The Boy's Body Book: Everything You Need to Know for Growing up YOU by Kelli Dunham, illustrated by Steven Bjorkman. This book covers the same information as: The Care and Keeping of You, but for boys. This book is a great book to help get kids and parents talking about growing up and taking care of your body.  However, it is a bit wordy so it's unlikely an eight to ten year old would read this book cover to cover. A good reference source and jumping off point for more in-depth discussions.