Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Guest Blogger -- Lorine Eliason

The Digging-est Dog by Al Perkins

The Digging-est Dog was first written in 1967 and I remember enjoying it as a child.  Written in poetic form, it is the story of Sammy and his dog Duke.  Sammy bought Duke from a pet store where Duke had lived on a stone floor and had never learn to dig, as all dogs apparently need to learn how to do.  Sammy teaches Duke to dig, and as soon as Duke catches on, Duke digs his way all across town.  You can imagine the trouble this causes.  A story of friendship and of making amends after you have caused a lot of trouble, The Digging-est Dog is a wonderfully rhythmic book for kids of all ages to enjoy, even grown-ups.

Froggy Eats Out by Jonathan London
Jonathan London has written many books about the various adventures of his main character, Froggy.  In Froggy Eats Out, Froggy the frog tries to make it through a dinner with his parents at a fancy restaurant, but isn't quite successful at being good, much like young children his age.  Full of fun sounds for children to say like "ssllluuuurrrrpppp" and "zip" and "zwit", the Froggy series is fun to read and is full of very colorful and humorous illustrations.  The Froggy series is a great series for a beginning reader.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Books About Liking You for You!

A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon

Camilla Cream loves lima beans, but fearing the ridicule of others, never eats them.  One morning Camilla wakes up to discover she is covered in bold colorful stripes.  As she continues to change into more and more alarming shapes and colors she longs to return to normal. A grandmotherly woman appears with an easy cure--eat a few lima beans. After initial refusal Camilla admits to loving lima beans. From that day forth she does what she likes to do no matter what anyone else might say.

Leon the Chameleon by Melanie Watt

Leon the chameleon is different. When the other chameleons sit on a green leaf they turn green, when they sit on yellow sand they turn yellow, but not Leon. Sometimes Leon's differences make him feel embarrassed and lonely. After an unexpected adventure Leon finds that being different can have unexpected benefits. A nice page in the back explains the color wheel and Leon's complementary color changing. The illustrations are filled with vivid color that completely the story nicely.

Elmer by David McKee

Elmer has always been different from the other elephants. Along with being a patchwork of bright colors, he loves to tell jokes, do tricks and make the other elephants laugh.  But Elmer is unhappy with his unique look and one day decides to try to blend in with the other elephants.  What he discovers is that looking the same as everyone else is not that much fun---and Elmer loves to have fun!

I'm Gonna Like Me by Jamie Lee Curtis and Laura Cornell

This lively book tells, in rhyming verse, why each of us is unique and special and why we should all love who we are. I love the witty rhyme of this book combined with the colorful cartoon like illustrations. Not really a story, but a fun book to read with your kids!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Non-Fiction Monday: Mighty Jackie: The Strike out Queen by Marissa Moss Illustrated by C.F. Payne

Mighty Jackie: The Strike out Queen by Marissa Moss Illustrated by C. F. Payne

Jackie Mitchell is just 17 years old and up against the great Yankees, including Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig-- can she strike these baseball legends out?  In 1931 the Yankees stopped in Tennessee for an exhibition game against the Chattanooga Lookouts. The book details Jackie’s love of baseball and the skills taught to her by her father. While Jackie's character is portrayed a little too tomboyish, the warm tones of the pictures add to the suspense filled pace of the book. A wonderful story about a great female baseball player and a little know historical moment.  

Mighty Jackie: The Strike out Queen. Marissa Moss, Illustrated by C. F. Payne. Simon and Schuster, 2004.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Mr Putter and Tabby Walk the Dog by Guest Blogger -- Lorine Eliason

Mr. Putter & Tabby Walk the Dog by Cynthia Rylant
Cynthia Rylant has written a variety of children's books for children of all ages, and certainly deserves all the recognition she has received.  Mr. Putter & Tabby books are wonderful for beginning readers, as they are simple chapter books with fun illustrations.  If you like one book in the series, there are many more waiting for you to enjoy next.
Mr. Putter is an older gentleman with an old cat Tabby who live next door to an older lady named Mrs. Teaberry an her somewhat crazy bulldog Zeke.  In this book, Mrs. Teaberry hurts her foot and Mr. Putter offers to walk Zeke for her while she recovers.  Zeke drags Mr. Putter and Tabby all through town, however, and Mr. Putter longs for the quiet days of just being with Tabby again. 
I like Mr. Putter & Tabby books not only because they have a cat as a main character, but also because I think they give children a glimpse into older adult characters.  The stories are warmly written with a touch of humor.  While cleaning out my now 11 and 13 year olds' bookshelves, I absolutely cannot part with our Mr. Putter & Tabby books.  I have too many sweet memories of them.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Three Great Early Chapter Book Series

Three wonderful early chapter book series that feature male characters, but both boys and girls will enjoy! Easy, fun chapter books that are great read alouds for kindergarten/first grade or independent reads for third/fourth graders.  Like the Junie B Jones series, even kids with higher reading levels will enjoy these quick, funny reads.

The Ready Freddy Series by Abby Kline, Illustrated by John McKinley

Freddy is a likable character whose experience can easily be related to by his readers.  In the first book in this series Freddy is the only one in Kindergarten who has yet to lose a tooth.  The other books in the series deal with normal issues such as homework troubles, the class bully, finding something cool for show and tell, and performing the the class talent show. Kids will love the funny way Freddy deals with his problems.  John Mckinley's playful illustrations are just enough for kids veering away from picture books.

Roscoe Riley Rules by Katherine Applegate, Illustrated by Brian Biggs

Each new title in the series will immediately grab your attention: Never Glue Your Friends to Chairs, Never Walk in Shoes that Talk, and Never Swim in Applesauce.  Roscoe is an accident prone first grader who means well, but always seems to get in trouble. Kids will enjoy reading about Roscoe as he faces normal kid problems with the help of his family and friends.  Cartoon like illustrations add a great touch to these quirky books.

Stink: The Incredible Shrinking Boy by Megan McDonald, Illustrated by Peter H Reynolds

Stink, the younger brother from the well know Judy Moody series, finally gets his own book!  Stink, real name James, is afraid he is shrinking and does everything he can to look taller.  After many hilarious attempts to look taller Stink comes to terms with being short--just like his favorite President-- James Madison.  This entertaining book is peppered with puns and fun scientific facts throughout.  I love the way Stink's relationship with his older sister Judy is written in a fun realistic way.  A great book for those just starting chapter books. There are six more books in this series.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Drummer Hoff -- Adapted by Barbara Emberley, illustrated by Ed Emberley

Drummer Hoff Adapted by Barbara Emberley, Illustrated by Ed Emberley

"...but Drummer Hoff fired it off."

This classic book, first published in 1967, and winner of the Caldecott Medal is one of my husband's favorites.  It is based on an old folk song which plots out, in rhyming verse, each member of an army putting together a cannon.  As each person adds a part of the cannon the stanza ends with, '...but Drummer Hoff fired it off.' The text is fun, simple and easy to memorize.  Kids will love being able to read this one with you or on their own. The wonderfully unique illustrations blend the look of old style wood cuts with the bright colorful psychedelic look of the sixties. My husband has read this book with my kids so many times that last week, while climbing over several cannons, they started reciting it word for word.

Drummer Hoff. Adapted by Barbara Emberley, Illustrated by Ed Emberley. Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, New York, 1967.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


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Monday, April 4, 2011

Non-Fiction Monday -- The Declaration of Independence

The Declaration of Independence By Elaine Landau
"How many hot dogs do Americans eat to celebrate the Declaration of Independence? 150 million." 

Sometimes things work out so well you wished you planned them!  That was the case this weekend.  For a biography project at school S is studying John Hancock.  Of course, I rushed out to the library and checked out as many John Hancock books as I could find.  I also checked out this book on the Declaration of Independence for S to have some additional background information on the time period.

Saturday night rolls around and we are trying to decide on a family movie.  I happen to come across National Treasure--notice that it's rated PG and remember that I thought it was pretty good.  S LOVED it and was so excited to read this non-fiction book about the Declaration when we finished the movie.  A great way to tie fact and fiction together and to discuss the difference between the two.

Elaine Landau has written many non-fiction books as part of the "True Book" series as well as many others.  The "True Book" series is geared to a third or fourth grade read alone level, but can be enjoyed by children much younger when read aloud. The pages are filled with large print text, bright colorful photos and interesting captions that will keep the attention of readers or listeners. Introducing your kids to non-fiction at an early age is great way to ensure a life long learner!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Guest Blogger -- Lorine Eliason

My fabulous sister-in-law steps in today as a guest blogger!

Officer Buckle and Gloria
by Peggy Rathman
As a parent who has read countless children's picture books, I have come to realize that some are just not that good!  You really to have be a gifted writer to write an outstanding children's book that both kids and parents will want to read over and over.
Peggy Rathman is one of these writers who masters the skill of keeping both a young child's and a parent's attention.  Her book Officer Buckle and Gloria is about a police officer who gives safety talks at schools with his faithful and hilarious canine companion Gloria.  Gloria, however, often gets more of the children's attention than Officer Buckle with her antics, and Officer Buckle then feels unappreciated.  All is resolved in the end, though, in this wonderfully illustrated, creative book that is one of my favorites to bring to school when I have to read to elementary students. 
This book won the 1996 Caldecott Medal and is a joy to read, no matter what your age.

Mercy Watson by Kate DiCamillo, Illustrated by Chris VanDusen

The Mercy Watson Series by Kate DiCamillo, Illustrated by Chris VanDusen

Author Kate DiCamillo is known for her many wonderful children's books -- Because of Winn Dixie, The Tale of Despereaux, and Gollie and Bink-- to name a few.  Mercy Watson is DiCamillo's first early reader series.

Mercy, "a porcine wonder," lives with her human parents, Mr and Mrs. Watson, who cherish (and spoil) her above all things.  Mercy loves adventures and hot buttered toast. In each of the six books in this series, a new eccentric character is introduced -- next door neighbors Eugenia and Baby Lincoln, Officer Tomilello, Ned and Lorenzo-the firefighters, Francine Poulet-the animal control officer and --my favorite-- Leroy Ninker-a reformed criminal longing to be a cowboy. Mercy manages to create all kinds of trouble in each book, but all ends well back at the Watson home with lots of hot buttered toast for everyone.

Illustrator Chris VanDusen does amazing colorful, eye-catching illustrations that make every page come alive.  The zany antics of the characters brought to life will greatly appeal to young readers. The pairing between DiCamillo and VanDusen is brilliant!  The audio versions of these books are wonderful for the car and appropriate for ages four and up.

Check out the fantastic Mercy Watson website to learn more about the creators of the Mercy Watson books, read about the different characters in the Mercy Watson series, and play some Mercy games! http://www.mercywatson.com/

If you enjoyed the illustrations in the Mercy Watson books, check out If I Built a Car, written and illustrated by Chris VanDusen.

Mercy Watson Goes for a Ride. By Kate DiCamillo. Candlewick Press, 2006.