Thursday, August 30, 2007

While We Were out

While We Were Out is written and illustrated by Ho Baek Lee. This is his third picture book. The first American edition of this book was published in 2003 by Kane/Miller. Have you ever come back home to discover a big mess in your house? Have you ever wondered how it got quite so messy? Do you ever wonder what it is your pets do while your away? While We Were Out does just that. Based on a 'true' story of a pet rabbit let loose in the house, it follows the adventures of a bunny who gets into quite a lot of stuff--and makes quite a mess of things--while everyone is away visiting Grandma. The illustrations are just so fun. As the rabbit leaves some "surprises" for his family to discover when they return. Picking out these 'surprising' clues can be quite fun, I imagine, for young and old alike. I also imagine that teachers (and parents even) could use this book as a jumping off point to have kids write their own tales. I would imagine that every child with a pet has a few stories they'd love to share--both in words and pictures. And soon they'd be a whole classroom library of "While We Were Out" adventures for everyone to share and enjoy.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Hooway for Wodney Wat

Though this 1999 book did not come from my childhood, it is still a favorite. This book by Helen Lester and illustrated by Lynn Munsinger is a charming little book about a rodent with a speech impediment. Something I know all too much about. Wodney Wat (aka Rodney Rat) has a problem with his r's. They're all w's. Having suffered this problem then and now, I must say I have quite a large soft spot for our hero, Wodney. The first pages show him reading such books as "Squeak up" and "Clear Squeaking" and "Pwonunciate." He does look a bit worried. And we soon see why, the next two pages reveal that the other rodents tease him by asking questions with "r" answers. (Boy, I know how that feels!!!) And as the story goes on, we learn that "all of this teasing day in and day out made Wodney the shyest rodent in his elementary school. His squeak could barely be heard in class. He gnawed lunch alone. And while the other rodents scurried and scotted about at recess, Wodney hid inside his jacket." But Wodney's life changes when a new girl enters the class. In ways NObody suspected. Can Wodney the Wodent go from being the shyest to being the big 'hero' on the playground? Read and see in this picture book about teasing, bullying, and self-acceptance.

Monday, August 27, 2007

The Gorilla Did It

Today I am highlighting another childhood favorite. The Gorilla Did It by Barbara Shook Hazen. It is illustrated by Ray Cruz. And it was published in 1974. On a personal note, this one was a gift from my great-grandmother. [It is always interesting to me to see which books are inscribed to which sister. My sister and I had one big bookshelf, of course, and shared everything. But it led to some interesting discussions--debates--when it came time to divide out everything. If there are still books with "To Elizabeth" in them, I'm not telling her now.] Books always make the best presents in my opinion. Nothing says love like a book.

The book opens with a young boy asleep in bed. He appears to be sucking his thumb--or at the very least cradling it up close to his mouth. His arms are also wrapped around a teddy bear. Turn the page, and the action begins. What do we see? We see a gorilla gently poking (or touching) the boy's head. Now the boy is WIDE awake. The boy tells the gorilla, "Shhh! Go away. I can't play. I'm sleeping." [Though I've never thought much into this before, the boy doesn't seem shocked to find a gorilla waking him up. He doesn't seem surprised at what he is seeing. So perhaps, just perhaps, this gorilla is a regular visitor.] The gorilla, of course, doesn't say a word. He just begins to play with a yo-yo. So the boy relents, and says, "Okay. But you've got to be quiet, or Mommy'll be mad." But as the two begin to play together in his room, the room gets messier and messier. One picture even shows them riding a tricycle together. But the fun can't last forever. When his mom comes to check on him--to make sure he's sleeping soundly and perhaps because he's been known to make mischief before--she discovers that he has been making quite a mess--a very big mess for just one person to make. So she of course asks the obvious question, "Who made this mess?" His response--which has become a classic at least round these parts--"The gorilla did it." Of course, the mother doesn't see the gorilla. And knows that her son is the one who made the mess. So, of course, there's a scolding. And his anger makes him scold the naughty gorilla who got him to make the mess. But soon the gorilla becomes a repentant gorilla and is ready to make amends by cleaning up the mess he's made. Soon the pair is ready to apologize and ask for cookies. The mother, of course, forgives once she hears the magic words of "I'm sorry."

The book's illustrations are black and white with some occasional color thrown in. For example, the gorilla--the star of the book--is a bluey-black color. Everyone else--everything else--is black and white. [Perhaps, the unnatural blueness of the gorilla is an indication of the fact that he's imaginary.]

As a child, I always thought this book was very funny. For one thing, who doesn't think it's funny to blame someone else for the mess in their room? As a child, I didn't even question the fact that this gorilla was *real.* I just assumed that he, of course, was real. It was funny that the grown-ups just didn't get it. But as a grown-up, I see now that this is imagination at play. It is the story of a boy who let his imagination run away with him--and that wasn't necessarily a bad thing--imagination is good but so is responsibility. This boy learns both. But I think the message is that there is a little gorilla in all of us. A gorilla tempting us to play and be silly when we should be doing something else. A gorilla tempting us to have fun, to enjoy ourselves, to do WHATEVER we want. A gorilla that doesn't necessarily mean to be bad. But a gorilla that sometimes has a hard time listening to the rules and following them.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Boy Who Would Not Go To School

Leaf, Munro. 1935. (reprinted 1963) The Boy Who Would Not Go To School: Robert Francis Weatherbee.

Today I am highlighting one of my childhood favorites. (I'm assuming it is the 1963 edition since that was the latest copyright year given. Although it could be early 70s.) The Boy Who Would Not Go To School is Munro Leaf's third picture book. It was published a year before his most-famous book The Story of Ferdinand. Written and illustrated by Leaf, it is a simple story of a boy named Robert Francis Weatherbee who absolutely refused to go to school no matter what his parents said. Here is how Leaf introduces us to our 'hero': This is Robert Francis Weatherbee, who was just like you and me when he was little--only his ears were bigger. His parents liked to imagine him growing up to be a fireman, a policeman, a sailor, or even the president of the United States. But young Robert didn't say a word. When the time came for him to go to school, his father gave him a book, his mother gave him a pencil, and the girl next door gave him an apple. They showed him where to go--the school was right up the road--but Robert Francis Weatherbee would not---WOULD NOT---go to school. And so the reader comes to the first parable:

One day Robert Francis Weatherbee went for a long walk all by himself way down a road that went through the woods. In and out, in and out he walked between the trees, until he was so tired and hungry he was ready to go home. But he learns that if you can't read the road signs, you can't know which way home is. (I liked how the sign posts read: "The Wrong Way" and "Home This Way"). Robert had to wait for his father to come find him. And he missed out on a tasty supper.

So the years pass, Robert grows bigger. (Although his ears are still rather large.) And one day Robert is sitting at home daydreaming about all the things he wants. Most of all he wants a pony with black and white spots. He feels that his uncle, who lives in the west, would send him a pony if he asked for it. But as he goes to get a pen and paper he realizes that it's hopeless. He can't write. He doesn't know how to ask his uncle for that pony after all.

The years really pass now. Robert is all grown up. And I mean ALL grown up. One day, Robert Francis Weatherbee was very hungry, and he asked his mother for a piece of pie. His mother told him to go out and get her ten apples, and she would make a whole pie all for him. So he went out to the orchard, where apples grow on the trees, to pick ten nice big red apples. But when he got there, he didn't get any because he didn't know how many apples are ten--because.....[drumroll please] Robert Francis Weatherbee could not count because he would NOT go to school. So he did not get even a little piece of pie this big.

But this time Robert has learned his lesson. He KNOWS that he made a big mistake all those years ago refusing to go to school. And he's finally ready to enter those classroom doors! So...Robert Francis Weatherbee WENT TO SCHOOL and he learned to read and to write and to count, and he had a good time. The last illustrations show a grown man sitting in a very tiny desk next to two children.

I think there were many things I liked about this book growing up. I liked the drawings. This stick-figure boy and his family. His big ears. The simple parables that were ever-so-obvious yet could cause giggles because we were smarter than Robert. And I liked the charming message that it's never too late to start. That learning is for a lifetime. That learning is for everyone. And I really liked how it was being hungry for an apple pie that made all the difference in the world. I think that is the part that stuck with me through the years.

Many books have been written since The Boy Who Would Not Go To School was published that are very similar. That highlight the benefits and joys of school days. But this one remains a favorite.

Friday, August 24, 2007

My Cat Copies Me

Today I am reviewing a wonderful, wonderful book called My Cat Copies Me. The author and illustrator isYoon-duck Kwon . The book was originally published in Korea as My Cat Copies Only Me in 2005. The first American edition of My Cat Copies Me was published in 2007 by Kane/Miller. Read more here.

My Cat Copies Me is the story of a girl and a cat. (Obviously.) The two are best of friends. And the text and illustrations show them doing everything together. The book opens with this little poem of sorts:

My cat is very independent.

She doesn't come when I call her,
and she runs away if I try to hug her.
She never looks me in the eye.

But if I pretend I don't see her,
or if I walk away,
then she'll follow me and try to play.
And then, my cat copies me.

The book then shows how the cat copies the young girl. But the second half of the book--the biggest surprise of all--is how the girl comes to copy the cat. In her *imitations* of the cat she becomes braver, bolder, and more confident of herself. In other words, the cat helps her become less timid and shy. And helps her fit in and befriend other children. In some ways it is a book of friendship and love and play, but in other ways it's a book about changing and growing and becoming more confident, more sure, more aware.

I absolutely loved this book. Loved it. It was so incredible. I loved, loved, loved the illustrations. They're just so perfect. So right. I love how the cat and girl are drawn to resemble each other. Everything about this book is just so right, so perfect, so beautifully wonderful. I can't sing its praises enough!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Make A Joyful Noise

Make a Joyful Noise! Music, Movement, and Creative Play to Teach Bible Stories. Kathryn Nider Wolf & Heather P. Robbins. New Day Publishing. 2007.

This guide is for teachers working with preschoolers through kids in first grade. I got *help* reviewing this guide from two sources. The first, my sister, is a first grade teacher. On the weekends, she works with toddlers at her church. The second, my pastor, is a mom of six who while her kids are grown now has taught through the years Vacation Bible School (not to mention Sunday School) who knows how many times!

My sister wrote:

-The activities in this book are very appropriate for ages 2-6.
Children at this age learn best through song, movement, and play,
rather than just being "told" a story. Participating through song and
creative play help children to internalize and remember Bible stories
and attributes of God!
-Familiar songs are best! This is easier on the teacher, and the
children, so the focus can be on learning the content or story of the
song, rather than the actual tune.
-Speaking as a teacher, keeping students actively involved through
song and rhythm helps students to stay focused and listen.
-I would probably use this book in VBS or Sunday School setting rather
than at home.
-Again, speaking as a teacher, I would make charts of the songs, to
encourage children's literacy learning whenever possible!
-I like the extension activities, especially making a craft or a
puppet to then go back and retell the story or song. Children can
take these home and retell to parents or siblings.
-Flannel patterns in the back are helpful - children can help the
teacher retell the story with these.
-Several songs are included for each story - I would probably focus on
just one per story, especially for ages 2-4. Five and six year olds
could handle more.

My pastor wrote:

-very age appropriate movements & crafts
-good creative ideas
-fits well into Sunday School time frame
-songs use familiar tunes--good idea!
-very detailed instructions--anyone could use this

There is also a CD available to use with the book. I did not loan out this CD to my sister or pastor. I listened to this CD several times, and overall I think it would be useful to use alongside the book. There are a few songs where the timing is tricky and having a CD track can show you just how it goes. The CD is sold separately.

Generally speaking, I enjoyed this book. I thought some of the poems/songs/fingerplays/activities were really good. A few were just okay. But most were really on target. So I would definitely recommend this one to those that teach youngsters.

There are also picture books called "action rhyme" books that could be used for at home or in group use. Titles include
  1. Come Into the Ark with Noah
    ISBN: 978-0-9789056-6-8; $5.99
  2. Share Out the Food with Jesus
    ISBN: 978-0-9789056-1-3; $5.99
  3. Sail On the Boat with Jesus
    ISBN: 978-0-9789056-0-6; $5.99
  4. Stand Up and Walk with Jesus
    ISBN: 978-0-9789056-4-4; $5.99
  5. Come to the Party with Jesus
    ISBN: 978-0-9789056-5-1; $5.99
  6. Climb the Tree with Zacchaeus
    ISBN: 978-0-9789056-2-0; $5.99
  7. March Round the Walls with Joshua
    ISBN: 978-0-97890567-5; $5.99
  8. Follow the Star with the Wise Men
    ISBN: 978-0-9789056-3-7; $5.99
While some of these "action rhyme" books are good, there were a few I didn't like. It's not that they were bad. It's just that they weren't all of equal quality. Some stories lend to this kind of telling better than others. Some are more age appropriate than others.

The books do focus on 'action' but I think 'rhyme' is the wrong word. The books are rhythmic but they don't rhyme. There is a difference. Dr. Seuss rhymes. Cat. Hat. Mat. Sat. Fat. These books don't rhyme. But a book doesn't have to rhyme to be a good story. Rhythm is important for books, and these books do have that. They also have repetition. And repetition is key to this age group. It is a good thing to have lots of repetition in books for this age group. It makes participation much more likely.

So while I didn't *love* the picture books as much as the group activity book, I did like some of the titles and would certainly recommend them. (I think that Come To the Party With Jesus is the weakest title of the bunch.)

Conclusion: If you have limited funds go with MAKE A JOYFUL NOISE. It's the strongest of the bunch and has many, many purposes. If you can afford it you should definitely get the CD that goes along with it. And the picture books are nice, but not necessarily essential.

Dog Blue

Dunbar, Polly. 2004. DOG BLUE. Cambridge, MA.: Candlewick. ISBN 0763624764.

Written and illustrated by Polly Dunbar, DOG BLUE is the story of a young boy, Bertie, on a quest to find the perfect pet dog. The story and illustrations are simple yet effective in conveying Bertie's hopes, dreams, disappointments, and ultimately his satisfaction. "Bertie loved blue. He had a blue sweater, a blue dog collar, blue shoes, but no blue dog. What Bertie wanted more than anything in the whole wide world was a dog. A blue dog." In the remaining pages, the reader watches as Bertie first pretends to have an imaginary blue dog, then pretends that he is a blue dog, before ultimately finding the perfect "blue" dog--a black and white spotted dog named Blue. Using repetition and alliteration (the "b" sound in particular), DOG BLUE makes a great read aloud for younger children. Bertie is an imaginative child with an amazing capacity to solve his own problems creatively.

The illustrations of DOG BLUE match the text perfectly. Both are simple yet charming and in many ways are reminiscent of older illustration styles such as HAROLD AND THE PURPLE CRAYON or THE CARROT SEED.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

From Dawn to Dreams: Poems For Busy Babies

From Dawn to Dreams: Poems For Busy Babies by Peggy Archer. Illustrated by Hanako Wakiyama. Published by Candlewick.

From Dawn to Dreams: Poems for Busy Babies is a delightful picture book featuring poems that chronicle the details of baby's world guessed it...morning to night. I enjoyed the rhythm and flow of these poems...particularly those in "Messy Baby."

Sippy, drippy apple juice
Dribbling down my chin.
Slurpy, burpy.
Icky sticky.
Big, sloppy grin!

That was the first of three stanzas. (But I think you've got the idea.) The poems have great images. Great rhythms. They're just very fun. Subjects include waking up, eating, crawling and walking, playing, laughing, exploring, napping, going for a ride in the car, taking a bath, rocking, and crib time. I like the fact that both parents played a role in this baby's day. And I liked the fact that some of the poems even mention grandparents and siblings...and pets. (There is both a cat AND a dog.) And the illustrations are good--very retro. I like the feel of them. Very soft. Very pastel. Very cute.

Overall, I really enjoyed this one!

Monday, August 20, 2007

The Baby Shower

Bunting, Eve. 2007. The Baby Shower. Illustrated by Judy Love.

The Baby Shower is a cute, adorable book about Ms. Brindle Cow and her animal friends. Ms. Brindle is expecting a baby. The book opens with the cow--very pregnant cow--reclining against a tree reading a book called 1001 Baby Names. (Written by Daisy, Flossie, and Bossy). By her side is a basket of milk, pickles, and what appears to be a sleeve of crackers or cookies. (Hard to judge!) And in the shady tree there is a nest full of birds. One of the birds passes along the news to his friend, the Chipmunk. And, of course, the Chipmunk has to spread the word as well. Before you know it, there is a large group of animals--a chipmunk, a turtle, many rabbits (mother and offspring), four pigs (mama and three piglets), and a duck--a preacher duck--on their way to celebrate the arrival of Ms. Brindle's calf. They're preparing a special song to sing at the celebrations and showing off their gifts for the new one. Very cute gifts I might add. But a big surprise awaits them all...something which means an even bigger celebration is in order!

I loved the story. I loved the pictures. It was just so very cute and adorable. I know not every reader likes *cute* stories with animals--some of which are dressed as humans--but there are many people who do. So judge this one for yourself. But as for me and my family, we loved The Baby Shower.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Why Do I Have To Eat Off The Floor

Today's review is a picture book from Australia called Why Do I Have To Eat Off the Floor? by Chris Hornsey. The illustrator is Gwyn Perkins. The publisher is Walker & Company. It is being published for the first time in the U.S. in 2007.

Originally published in Australia in 2005, Why Do I Have To Eat Off The Floor? is a humorous series of questions asked by the dog to its owner, a child. The questions and answers may sound a bit familiar in a different context--that of a child questioning a parent. What kinds of questions? Well, here are some of my favorites--taken at random

Why do I have to take a bath after playing in the mud?
Why can't we play ALL the time?
Why can't I have a pet duck or an elephant?
Why do I have to be good when we have company?
Why can't I jump on the chair?

The answers are just as great as the questions. Whether you have dogs, children, or both...I think Why Do I Have To Eat Off the Floor is a delightfully funny read that everyone can enjoy!

About the author: Chris Hornsey is a journalist and the owner of a very lovable and demanding dog named Murphy, who is not entirely convinced she is a member of the canine family. This is Chris’s first book. She lives in Melbourne, Australia.

About the illustrator: Gwyn Perkins has a background in animation and advertising. He lives in Sydney, Australia.

Kirkus Review of Why Can't I Eat Off The Floor?

Baby's Day and Let's Play

LittleMiss was the proud recipient of two board books at our last visit. Both are published by Candlewick. Both are part of their "Easy-Open" series of board books. Both are by Michael Blake. Both feature black and white photography. One of the titles, Baby's Day, focuses on common objects that a baby is likely to encounter: rattle, book, chair, diaper, wipes, bathtub, towel, teether, etc. Let's Play is a title that again focuses on objects from a toddler's world: shoes, hat, sunglasses, pool, bucket & shovel, balloons, etc. What are the books like? Well, the photographs sometimes are one page, sometimes two pages. And each black and white photograph has the selected object highlighted in color. For example, the text might read "rattle" and so the yellow and red rattle would stand out against the black and white background. Primary colors--red, green, blue, yellow--are used throughout. What does Easy-Open mean? Well, the pages are staggered. So they're easier for little hands to grasp (or big hands) because the pages don't stick together. And you can differentiate between the pages easier. (So you won't accidentally turn two pages.) Overall, I enjoyed the books. I really liked the two-page spread of balloons found in Let's Play as well as the two-page spread featuring the wading pool and toys.

Let's see what LittleMiss thought of the books:

Sarah enjoyed both the "Let's Play" and "Baby Day" books. She didn't stare at the pages quite as long as some of her other books, perhaps because of the black and white pages. Her mother thought the books were beautifully photographed and they reminded her of coffee table books for babies. Her mother also thought that the easy open pages were quite smart. The only drawback is that the books are not slick and so when they ended up in Sarah's mouth (as most things do these days) the cover was a bit wet for a while.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


Farmer, Jacqueline. 2007. Apples. Illustrated by Phyllis Limbacher Tildes.

I want to say this at the very beginning. I love, love, love this book. Apples had me at hello. Well, almost hello. I was hooked almost from the very beginning. Oddly mesmerized by the I-didn't-know-that-facts and charmed by the colorful illustrations.

Here are just a few of the I-didn't-know-that facts that had me eager for more:

*Along with many other fruits, apples are members of the rose family of plants. (3)
*In order for an apple to grow, pollen from a different variety of apple tree must fertilize the flower. (8)
*It takes fifty leaves to feed one apple. [To feed the apple the sugar it needs to grow] (12)
* Most apple historians believe that sweet apples were first cultivated in Southeast and Central Asia around 6500 BCE. (21)
*The Romans even had a goddess of fruit trees named Pomona. Today the science of growing apples and other fruit is called pomology. (22)
*The Greeks believed the apple represented love and beauty. In ancient Greece tossing an apple to a girl was a marriage proposal. If she caught it the answer was yes! (23)
*October is National Apple Month (30)
*Twenty-five percent of an apple's volume is air. That is why it floats. (30)
*China grows 41 percent of all apples, making it the leading producer of apples in the world. (30)

Every aspect of the apple is covered here--scientifically, historically, socially, etc. The book even includes a two page spread of the varieties of apples and a recipe for apple pie. There is so much information here. And it's presented in an organized and enjoyable way.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Three Little Duckies

LittleMiss is quite fond of her bath book, Three Little Duckies, written by Jan Jugran and illustrated by Ana Larranaga. (There is a tilde over the n.)She likes to grab at the puffy pages and stare at the yellow ducks while listening to the very brief text. The best part of the book is that it comes complete with three baby sized, yellow rubber ducks to float around in her bathtub. The first time we intruduced the ducks it caused quite a stir with much kicking and splashing. If I am reading her facial expressions correctly, I believe she's wishing she had the dexterity to get the ducks to her mouth so she could chew on them.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Animal Faces

The book is Animal Faces by Akira Satoh and Kyoko Toda. It was originally published in Japan in 1994, and it was published in the US in 1996. The publisher is Kane/Miller.

This is a book about observation--close observation. That means looking at things very carefully so that you are able to see the differences between things that upon first glance look exactly alike.

In this book you will be looking at photographs of animal faces, which for a particular species of animal you might expect to look very much alike. But, in fact, for each of the 24 species of animals included in this book, each one of the 21 photos for that animal shows a different face. It is up to you to look at seemingly identical faces and then to discover how they all differ from one another. This is the same as looking at a group of people who at first may look alike, but upon closer observation look very different from each other--in fact look highly individual.

It is your job to figure out how each face differs from every other one, by its markings, shape, color, or expressiveness. And then it will be your job to apply these observation skills when looking at other things that you encounter in your daily life. Have fun.

The animals shown are gorillas, camels, lesser pandas, elephants, seals, rhinoceroses, otters, polar bears, raccoon dogs, tapirs, goats, orangutans, tigers, kangaroos, hippopotamuses, Asiatic black bears, chimpanzees, giraffes, wolves, foxes, zebras, raccoons, lions, and Japanese monkeys.

Each animal has a two page spread. The name of the animal is given along with a brief description of its habitat and observations about its behavior. For example, about the Orangutan it says: The orangutan works at things very slowly but patiently. It could work all day at tearing up the grass or overturning a huge stone in its play area at the zoo. Zoo-keepers never cease to be amazed at the persistence of the orangutan. Can you spot the orangutans who look ready for mischief? Then there would be 21 pictures of orangutans...each one different and unique.

I loved this book. I loved, loved, loved it. I loved looking at the pictures. I loved noticing all the little differences. I loved how this book is an interactive experience. How the text asks you to look at the pictures with a question in mind. Much like a parent would if they were reading together. And this book does work as an interactive read with mother and child. Or should I say child and mother. I read this book with my mom the other day. And you can of course add questions of your own and make your own observations.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Too Absolutely Small for School

[Note: I wrote this review for Librarians' Choices 2004. So the recommended reads hasn't been updated since then.]

Child, Lauren. 2004. I AM TOO ABSOLUTELY SMALL FOR SCHOOL. Cambridge, MA.: Candlewick. ISBN: 0763624039.

Lauren Child's vivacious characters Lola and Charlie return for their third adventure together in I AM TOO ABSOLUTELY SMALL FOR SCHOOL. Lola is convinced that she is too small to start going to school. Besides that, she is "too extremely busy doing important things at home" to bother with school. Yet through Charlie's persuasive encouragement, Lola soon embraces the concept of starting school where she'll learn to read, write, count, and have the opportunity to make new friends. For each excuse Lola has to not go to school, Charlie is there to give her a good reason why school is important--and most importantly not that scary.

I AM TOO ABSOLUTELY SMALL FOR SCHOOL is a humorous and reassuring look at the common fears many children have about starting school. Child
's text and illustrations are unique and charming. Lola definitely has a voice all her own!

Lola has an imaginary friend named Soren Lorensen (illustrated in the last few pages of the book). Ask readers to take turns sharing about any imaginary friends they have or used to have.

Ask children to talk about any fears they have or might have had when they started school.

Lola is very lucky to have such a great big brother. Ask children to share what they love about their big brothers or sisters.

Other books by Lauren Child featuring Lola and Charlie
Child, Lauren. I AM NOT SLEEPY AND I WILL NOT GO TO BED. ISBN 0763615706
Child, Lauren. I WILL NEVER NOT EVER EAT A TOMATO. ISBN 0763611883

Other books by Lauren Child
Child, Lauren. CLARICE BEAN, THAT’S ME. ISBN 0763609617
Child, Lauren. WHO’S AFRAID OF THE BIG BAD BOOK. ISBN 0786809264

Other books about starting school
Curtis, Jamie Lee. IT’S HARD TO BE FIVE. ISBN 0060080957
Henkes, Kevin. CHRYSANTHEMUM. ISBN 0688147321
Henkes, Kevin. LILLY’S PURPLE PLASTIC PURSE. ISBN 0688128971
Henkes, Kevin. OWEN. ISBN 0688114490
Henkes, Kevin. WEMBERLEY WORRIED. ISBN 0688170277
Wells, Rosemary. MY KINDERGARTEN. ISBN 0786808330

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Dadblamed Union Army Cow

Fletcher, Susan. 2007. Dadblamed Union Army Cow. Illustrated by Kimberly Bulcken Root.

Let me just say right now that I loved, loved, loved Dadblamed Union Army Cow. What did I love? I loved the fact that it was based on a true story as the author's note clearly states:

This book is based on a true story about a cow that marched with the Union Army during the Civil War. I heard the tale from Linda Thompson, media specialist at Zellerbach Elementary School in Camas, Washington. Linda first learned about the Union Army cow from her grandfather's cousin, Mrs. H.F. Rethers, the daughter of Captain Jesse M. Lee, the captain of the regiment to which the cow was attached.

I have taken liberties with history, as fiction writers are wont to do. However, this much is corroborated by newspaper clippings, photographs, and Mrs. Rethers: From 1862 to 1865, a "celebrated cow" traveled with the Fifty-Ninth Regiment of Indiana Volunteers, giving milk to the soldiers. She was in the Vicksburg and Atlanta campaigns; she traveled through the Carolinas and Virginia to Washington City, where she passed in review with the army. She is said to have traveled many hundreds of miles and witnessed a hundred engagements and skirmishes. The milk may well have saved the soldiers' lives, as the supply train couldn't keep up with them and, as Mrs. Rethers has written, "hardtack and wormy bacon weren't very nourishing." Captain Lee mustered out at six feet two inches, weighing 110 pounds.

After the war, the cow was written up in the Greencastle, Indiana, newspaper. She spend her days contentedly in the pasture of Professor George Lee (Captain Jesse Lee's brother) until she died many years later.

I also loved the narration. I loved the rhythm and repetition of it. The recurring phrase being, "Dadblamed cow said, Moo." (Who isn't going to want to join in and say Moo if you're reading this aloud???)

I loved the cow's personality. My father owns cows. My grandfather owned cows. If there is one thing I know--it is that cows have personalities all their own. Each cow has her own quirks. Each one is "special" if you will. I loved this "dadblamed cow."

And I loved the illustrations. Loved them. They were so perfect for this book.

This book has everything a good picture book should, and I highly recommend it.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Hurry! Hurry!

Bunting, Eve. 2007. Hurry! Hurry! Illustrated by Jeff Mack.

What can cause a barnyard to get all excited and fluttery? Read and see in one of Eve Bunting's newest books, Hurry! Hurry!, released in March 2007. The title page shows a chicken on a mission: With wings outspread and beak wide open...she's squawking: Hurry! Hurry! to all the other animals in the barnyard. There are goats, ducks, cows, sheep, dogs, pigs, etc. all rushing around excited as can be...and all because of a new arrival that's on the way.

I loved the illustrations. I loved how the pictures show the building excitement. I loved the text. The repetition. The flow. But most of all I love the story and the message. It is exciting and joyous to gather around a new life and say "Welcome! Welcome!"

This book came at a very fitting time! I read it on July 31rst, which just happens to be when when my sister and brother-in-law welcomed their nephew into the world.

For more of my impressions on Hurry! Hurry! see Reading With Becky's entry: Hurry! Hurry! I'm Here! I'm Here!