Saturday, June 27, 2009

Crazy Hair

Gaiman, Neil. 2009. Crazy Hair. Illustrated by Dave McKean. HarperCollins.

This is Bonnie.
This is me.
We were standing
She said,
"I don't mean to stare.
Mister, you've got
Crazy hair."

A love of all things Gaiman sure helps when reading Crazy Hair. That and a love of all-things-silly. In Crazy Hair we meet a semi-crazy pair: A little girl and a grown man with some crazy hair.

What's going on in this man's crazy hair? A little bit of everything I'd imagine:

In my hair
Gorillas leap,
Tigers stalk,
And ground sloths sleep.
Prides of lions
Make their lair
in my crazy hair.
See what I mean about silly? But silly works at times. I'm not saying it doesn't. I did like that it was imaginative. I can see a few extension activities working with this one. Page after page, Bonnie hears the warnings about his crazy hair. But what happens when she braves to approach that 'crazy' hair with a comb? Read and see for yourself in Neil Gaiman's Crazy Hair.

Personally, I don't care for the Dave McKean illustrations. He's just not my style. But you might appreciate them more than I did. I see this one as appealing to a wider audience than most picture books.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Friday, June 26, 2009

Natalie & Naughtily

Kirsch, Vincent X. 2008. Natalie and Naughtily. Bloomsbury.

Natalie and Naughtily Nopps lived in a house on top of the greatest department store in the world. Did you notice that it is a department store with their name on it? Well, did you?

From the time they were born, Natalie did things one way and Naughtily did them another.
On rainy days, these two are allowed to play in the store. On sunny days, they wish it would rain. (They'd rather play in the store than on the beautiful roof-top garden.) This story takes place on a rainy day. The girls' parents have asked them not to play in the store. But the girls decide that they should ignore those instructions. They're not going to "play" in the store, they're going to help in the store. But how much can help can two small--and sometimes naughty, but always stubborn--children be? Read and see in Natalie and Naughtily.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Lucas, David. 2008. Peanut. Candlwick Press.
In the night,
on a tree,
a flower grew.

As the sun rose,
the flower opened.

Inside was a monkey, a monkey as big as a pea.
In the warm sun, he soon turned golden brown
and grew as big as a nut.

Peanut is the story of a small monkey--named Peanut, as you might have guessed. The world is a little overwhelming for Peanut. He's not sure how the world works exactly. He is less than a day old after all. It's only natural that wind and rain might worry him a bit. Peanut is a timid and curious little monkey that's for sure!

Did I like the story? It was cute enough in a way. But I'm not sure I'd consider it a must-read by any means. It's more than a little silly. It's a lot silly. And it's fun. I'd be curious to see how kids respond to Peanut.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Finding Susie

O'Connor, Sandra Day. 2009. Finding Susie. Illustrated by Tom Pohrt. Random House.

Will Sandra ever find the perfect pet? Read and see in Finding Susie a picture book by Sandra Day O'Connor, former Supreme Court justice. Sandra lives on a cattle ranch in the desert. She's a girl who wants a pet, needs a pet. But after taking in a few wild animals without much success, at least long-term success, she doesn't seem to be having much luck finding that one special pet she can keep and love. That is until she meets Susie, a playful white dog who love Sandra's company as much as Sandra loves hers.

This one is a bit text-heavy for younger readers. But older children may enjoy reading about some of Sandra's more unusual pets. Though not every reader is likely to want all of her unusual pets. (I've NEVER had a desire to have a pet coyote or a pet bob cat!) I didn't love this one. It was a bit too wordy for me personally.

Sandra's summer began on a hot day beneath the pure, deep blue desert sky. She finished rereading her favorite book, and when she looked off in the distance, heat waves sparkled like ripples on a lake. Sandra loved living on the ranch, but now that school was over she would miss having other children to play with. "I wonder if this will be the year Mother and Dad will let me have a pet," she asked the sky. "Mother always says she will now allow an animal in the house. And Dad says I can just ride my horse. But it would be so nice to have a little pet to hold, to talk to, and to take care of."

But the universal longing for a pet is something that people can relate to. So there's that.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Dogs on the Bed

Bluemle, Elizabeth. 2008. Dogs on the Bed. Illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf. Candlewick Press.

What's a family to do when the dogs won't take no for an answer? This family has too many dogs. And they all want on the bed. Though this mom has a few impatient moments, love eventually triumphs in this rhyming adventure.

There are dogs on the bed
Like logs on the bed
Bed hogs on the bed --
These dogs, these dogs!

Sideways on the bed
Dog maze on the bed
Paws grazing our heads--
These dogs, these dogs.
A playful book with a cute premise. An ultimately loving portrayal of the bond between families and their dogs.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Blog Improvement Project: Revisiting Goals

So what have I done with Young Readers since January 5th and January 6th? New header. New background. From two columns to three.

My original goals:

To determine once and for all which direction I want Young Readers to take. Should I keep this one separate from Becky's Book Reviews?

To be more consistent in blogging. To have twenty posts per month at least.

To try to give equal time to books reviewed for this site.

To create/maintain a blogroll for this site.

To feature more books by baby reviewers.
How have I done?

Well, I decided to keep going with Young Readers. To not merge with Becky's Book Reviews. I may revisit this again in the future. But I don't see this changing any time soon.

Have I had twenty posts per month? Sometimes. January, February and March saw over thirty posts each. April was my slowest month. May I bounced back a bit. And June needs some work. I need to review some more books this month if I want to get my totals up. But generally speaking, I'm happy that I've been able to devote some time to this blog.

Am I leading a more balanced life? Am I able to give time to reading and reviewing picture books, board books, and early readers? Yes and no. I've started reading picture books as they arrive. Not always. But on good days I do. So I may read it a time or two and review it within those first few days. So that's encouraging. But not always possible. I would LOVE to be able to sit down with a stack of picture books one day a week, read them all, and start writing reviews. Perhaps writing reviews and scheduling them to post ahead of time. Doing a week or two at a time so that I don't have to worry with doing it day by day.

How is my blog roll doing? I haven't maintained it. I think I probably spent some time in January or February getting it going. But I haven't added anything to it recently. So it might could use some help.

Baby Reviewers. I love Snugglebug. And he has been reviewing for the blog twice a month (approximately). Of course, my having reviews depends on his mama's schedule. And I definitely understand when she's not able to have reviews to send my way.

Formulating new goals:

  • to choose one day per week to sit and review picture books
  • to schedule posts for Young Readers in advance
  • to continue trying to be consistent in posting twenty-or-so posts per month
  • to continue having guest posts by baby reviewers
  • to perhaps refine my blog roll or create a special blog roll for bloggers specializing in children's books versus young adult books

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, June 22, 2009

Dog Day

Hayes, Sarah. 2008. Dog Days. Illustrated by Hannah Broadway. FSG.

A fun picture book. Ben and Ellie have a new teacher. Can you guess who that new teacher is? Did you guess that their new teacher is a dog? What kinds of things do you think a class of boys and girls can learn from a dog? Read and see for yourself in Dog Days by Sarah Hayes. It's an undoubtedly cute premise that offers a lot of enjoyment to readers of all ages. I enjoyed the illustrations that showed the students learning to scratch, sniff, bark, and wag their tails. I liked this one.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Really Truly Bingo

Kvasnosky, Laua McGee. 2008. Really Truly Bingo. Candlewick Press.

When Beatrice (Bea) makes a mess, who's to blame? Herself or the talking-dog-Bingo she met in her yard who said, "Let's do something we're not supposed to do." Bea is bored. B-O-R-E-D. Her mother sends her outside to play. While outside, Bea meets a playful dog, a talking dog named Bingo. A dog that encourages Bea to do lots of fun things, but they are fun-not-allowed-mess-making things. It's a playful book.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Friday, June 19, 2009

Bad Dog, Marley!

Grogan, John. 2007. Bad Dog, Marley! Illustrated by Richard Cowdrey. HarperCollins.

A cute story about a dog, adorable though he may be, who finds himself in trouble. Again. And again. And again. Can this "bad dog" learn to be a good dog? Can Marley prove to his family that he's worth having around? Read and see in John Grogan's Bad Dog, Marley!

That puppy ate and he ate and he ate. He ate what was in his dish. He ate what wasn't.
He drank and he drank and he drank. He drank what was in his bowl. He drank what wasn't.
The more he ate and the more he drank, the more he pooped and the more he peed.
And the more he grew and grew and grew.
And the bigger Marley got, the bigger trouble he got into. Big, big, bad-boy trouble.

I liked this one.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Critter Sitter

Richards, Chuck. 2008. Critter Sitter. Walker.

Will this "critter sitter" rethink his career path after a disastrous pet sitting job? Read and see for yourself in Critter Sitter by Chuck Richards. In this job, anything that can go wrong, does go wrong. Can he pull it all together before the owners return to discover the chaos? Perhaps a little chaos is just what is needed as this critter sitter heads into the job a bit too cocky for his own good. But did he really deserve everything that went wrong?

"Your Critter Sitter reporting for duty!" announced Henry to Mr. and Mrs. Mahoney, his very first customers. They were picking their kids up from Camp Yippie-Yahoo.
"Now, Henry," warned Mr. Mahoney, "our snake is an escape artist, so keep that dumbbell on top of his tank."
"Don't worry about a thing," assured Henry. "Critter Sitter is my name and Creature Control is my game."

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Kajikawa, Kimiko. 2009. Tsunami! Illustrated by Ed Young. Penguin.

I really enjoyed this one. It's a strikingly illustrated picture book of a folk tale.

Long ago in Japan, there was a wise old rice farmer who lived near the sea. The people in the village called him Ojiisan, which means "grandfather." Even though Ojiisan was the wealthiest person in the village, he lived a very simple life. His thatched cottage stood high on the mountain, overlooking the village and the sea. People often climbed the long zigzag road up the mountain to ask Ojiisan's advice.
Tsunami is the story of how one man through great cost to himself saved the village from an approaching tsunami. Though the village was destroyed, the villagers were saved due to the quick-thinking of a wise old man.

Ojiisan turned his keen old eyes anxiously toward the sea. It had darkened suddenly and was moving against the wind. THE SEA WAS RUNNING AWAY FROM THE LAND! The beach grew before Ojiisan's eyes. He had never seen anything like this, but he remembered what his grandfather had told him when he was a child. Ojiisan shivered. "Tsunami--the monster wave," he whispered. But none of the villagers realized the danger they were in. Ojiisan watched as the whole village ran to the beach, and even beyond the beach, to watch the sea.
How can one man save a village? What must he do to get their attention? Read and see for yourself in Tsunami!

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Egg Drop

Grey, Mini. 2009. Egg Drop. Knopf.

I'll grant you that it's quirky. But this one is not for me.
"The Egg was young. It didn't know much. We tried to tell it, but of course it didn't listen. If only it had waited."
A rather melancholy beginning that suits this dark tale well. It's a story of an unhatched egg that wants to fly.
"The Egg had always loved looking up, seeing birds and balloons, airplanes and insects, helicopters and bats and clouds.
The Egg wanted to fly with them. It dreamed of ways to fly.
But the Egg was young. It didn't know much about flying (and it didn't know anything about aerodynamics or Bernoulli's principle).
It just knew that it had to get up high."
Can you guess what happens next? Do you think gravity will have the last laugh? Read and see (if you must). I think that some people may like this one. But I don't do dark and quirky and weird so much. That's not my picture book style.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Young, Ed. 2009. Hook. Roaring Brook.

Ed Young is a children's book author and illustrator. And he's typically someone whose work I really love and appreciate. But. I'm not a big fan of birds. Here's how the jacket describes it, "Hook, an eaglet adopted by a caring, if slightly perplexed, hen, wasn't meant for earth. With his adoptive mother's encouragement and a young boy's help, he tries to fly time and time again, but doesn't quite succeed. Will he master this seemingly impossible task and rise to where he belongs?" I typically don't quote from the book jacket. I try to describe books in my own words, in my own way. But I struggled with this one. Some picture books I just don't get. And this is one of them. It's nothing against Ed Young. More than likely, it's all me.

The text is simple. There's not many phrases to piece together a story. Here are a few pages to give you a hint at just how sparse the text is:

An abandoned egg.
A young boy.
A strange chick.
A hook nose?
"Let's call him Hook."
Kicking up a storm.
Looking back.
"You are not meant for earth."

The pictures help tell the story. But they don't tell the full story either. In my very humble opinion, both the text and the illustrations require some thinking to put together into a story that works. (If I hadn't read the jacket summary, I'd be lost.) I think it would work best for older readers versus the preschool crowd.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

A Day With Dad

Holmberg, Bo R. 2008. A Day With Dad. Illustrated by Eva Eriksson. Candlewick Press.

"Tim waits on the platform at the train station. He's just moved to this town. He lives here with his mom. His dad lives in another town. But today, Tim's dad is coming on the train. They are going to spend the whole day together--just Tim and Dad."

A Day With Dad is a sweet story of a father and son spending the day together. Now that he doesn't live with his dad anymore--Tim treasures every minute he has with his dad. His enthusiasm just shines through on this one in a really endearing way. Not a sickeningly sweet way. But in a heartfelt, authentic way. What do these two want to do together? Anything and everything! They share special treats, go to the movies, and so much more. I really enjoyed this one. And I love, love, love the illustrations.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, June 15, 2009

Sir Dalton and the Shadow Heart

Black, Chuck. 2009. Sir Dalton and The Shadow Heart.

Sir Dalton, a knight in training, seems to have everything going for him. Young, well-liked, and a natural leader, he has earned the respect and admiration of his fellow knights, and especially the beautiful Lady Brynn.

But something is amiss at the training camp. Their new trainer is popular but lacks the passion to inspire them to true service to the King and the Prince. Besides this, the knights are too busy enjoying a season of good times to be concerned with a disturbing report that many of their fellow Knights have mysteriously vanished.

When Sir Dalton is sent on a mission, he encounters strange attacks, especially when he is alone. As his commitment wanes, the attacks grow in intensity until he is captured by Lord Drox, a massive Shadow Warrior. Bruised and beaten, Dalton refuses to submit to evil and initiates a daring escape with only one of two outcomes–life or death. But what will become of the hundreds of knights he’ll leave behind? In a kingdom of peril, Dalton thinks he is on his own, but two faithful friends have not abandoned him, and neither has a strange old hermit who seems to know much about the Prince. But can Dalton face the evil Shadow Warrior again and survive?

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

My Father The Dog

Bluemle, Elizabeth. 2006/2008. My Father The Dog. Illustrated by Randy Cecil.

"My father pretends to be human, but I know he is really a dog. Consider the evidence..."

Thus starts this fun and playful tribute to dog-like fathers everywhere. What's the evidence?

"When he wakes up, he's fuzzy around the edges. He starts off the day with a good scratch.
He fetches the newspaper every morning.
My father loves to roughhouse and play tug of war.
He hates to lose."

And that's only the beginning. I think most readers will enjoy this one. It's a cute premise that works well in the hands of Bluemle and Cecil. I enjoyed both the text and the art. Overall, I liked it and I think you will too.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Young Readers Month Six

It is time to share any reviews you might have written for the Young Readers Challenge. (Sign ups are still going on here.)

If you don't have a link to share, you can always just talk about your books in the comments themselves.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Dunderheads

Fleischman, Paul. 2009. The Dunderheads. Illustrated by David Roberts. Candlewick Press.

I'll be honest. I did not like this one...much. I know that it's intended to be funny and snarky. And irresistible too. Clever kids outwitting a mean adult, a teacher. It's not that the teacher didn't deserve it. She did. And then some. And it's not even that I am so offended by the mean-and-ugly teacher stereotype going on.

"Never," shrieked Miss Breakbone, "have I been asked to teach such a scraping-together of fiddling, twiddling, time-squandering, mind-wandering, doodling, dozing, don't-knowing dunderheads!"

Okay, so that is pretty rhythmic and catchy. If you're going to insult someone, I guess you could always do worse.

That was her first mistake: the insult. Mistake number 2: no eye for talent. An easy mistake to make, in our case.

Note the electric chair in the classroom. Perhaps because of this, the teacher underestimates her class.

Miss Breakbone hated kids.
Every time she made a student cry, she gave herself a gold star.
Confiscating was her specialty.
Rumor had it she'd bought her electric chair from selling all the stuff she'd taken away.
When the kids in her class have had enough, they plot, plot, plot a way to get their stuff back, a way to teach Miss Breakbone a lesson. Individually, no one can tackle her...and hope to win. But working together, can this team of students do the impossible? Can they break Miss Breakbone?

The premise of this is fun. And most readers will probably enjoy it more than I did. What with the plotting, pranking, and spitting. In some ways, it reminded me of one of my favorite cartoons--Recess. Man, I loved that show!

This is a picture book for older readers. (Still elementary-aged, mind you. But not for the preschool/pre-K crowd. Perhaps for third and fourth graders?) And it's nice to see an engaging picture book for older readers with a lot of appeal.

I'm not sure why I didn't like this one...excepting that the illustrations aren't to my taste. I think they're suited to the story. They match the style of the story well enough. I think this book will be appealing to others. It's just not my style.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Thursday, June 11, 2009

When Papa Comes Home Tonight

Spinelli, Eileen. 2009. When Papa Comes Home Tonight. Simon & Schuster. Illustrated by David McPhail.

Oh what fun is to be had for one little boy when his dad comes home from work. That's the premise for Eileen Spinelli's When Papa Comes Home Tonight. The text is simple enough and sweet enough.

When Papa comes home tonight, dear child,
(I promise--not too late)
you'll hear me whistling up the road.
You'll meet me at the gate.

I'll lift you up. I'll swing you round.
And then we'll go inside.
You'll hand me fuzzy Teddy Bear.
You'll say: "Give him a ride!"

When Papa comes home tonight, dear child,
I'll let you help me cook.
We'll try that recipe for rice.
It's in the yellow book.
It's a sweet little book about a father and son spending time together at the end of a long day. They play. They laugh. They love. They're together. And that's the message of this one. Valuing their time together. Taking joy in the little things, the small things, that make up life.

I think I'm just being hyper-sensitive when I say that there was something about the text that didn't quite work for me. It's a blend of third person ("when Papa...") and first person (I, we) together which isn't quite natural, in my opinion. [If the father is the one talking, if he's the narrator, why does he sometimes speak in the first person, and other times speak in the third? Wouldn't it be more natural to use one or the other...'When I come home tonight, dear child, I'll let you help me cook.' Or 'When Papa comes home tonight, dear child, he'll let you help him cook.'] The whole book is also in future tense. The action is all set in the future sense. We'll do this, we'll do that. Yet because of the illustrations, the reader sees it all happening then and there, in the now, in the present.

Chances are these things won't bother you. At all. My mom read it and didn't see why the narration didn't quite work for me. While I didn't find this one perfect (for me), I do think it's a good book.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

My Dad and Me

Capucilli, Alyssa Satin. 2009. My Dad and Me. Illustrated by Susan Mitchell. Simon & Schuster.

It's a celebration of fatherhood and the seasons...multicultural style. In addition to good old dad, kids will learn: papi (Spanish), Aba (Hebrew), Baba (Mandarin), Bapa (Hindi). Here's a sample of how the text unfolds (quite literally, I may add as the pages do unfold):

When it's only my dad and me...
we rake the leaves high.
We leap in and they fly.
We climb trees and say,
"It's a great autum day!"
When it's only my dad and me.
The text is simple and the illustrations quite sweet.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

When I Grow Up

Gore, Leonid. 2009. When I Grow Up. Scholastic

One boy wants to know what he'll be when he grows up...

There are plenty of plants and animals offering him advice--from the raindrop to the green sprout to the fuzzy caterpillar to the little chick to get the idea!

"What will I be
when I grow up?"
asked the little boy.

"You could be like me,"
said the raindrop.
"I will be the fastest river
running through the hills."
Each is introduced in the "You could be like me..." format. (If you wanted to extend this one, you could come up with your own examples from life and nature.)

The heart of this one is in the illustrations. (Note the little boy surrounded by art--blank paper, colored pencils, paint). The art is just beautiful, very expressive. I love the colors. I love how the images transform. (My favorite is how images of baby birds are hidden in the tree.) This story is told on die-cut pages. I'm not clever enough to describe it right so I'll let Publisher's Weekly help out a bit, "With cheery acrylics, straightforward text and smart use of die-cuts, Gore follows a boy's musings about what he might be when he grows up."

Here's another of my favorites--the end sequence, I might add.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, June 8, 2009

Tonka Phonics Reading Program

Tonka Phonics Reading Program: A Comprehensive reading program containing 12 all-new books, 15 flash cards, and a parent letter. Published by Scholastic.

I was a bit of a skeptic on this one, I admit. Perhaps because I'm a bit skeptic about phonics. Don't get me wrong. I came of age (began kindergarten) when phonics reigned supreme. (I know this changes back and forth and back and forth through the years.) We had "phonics" through second grade. (Which seemed a little like overkill to me, to be honest.) I remember going through the drills "st" in "stop" "gl" in "glue" "squ" in "squeak" or whatever it was for squ. And in kindergarten we spent months learning ba, be, bi, bo, bu (etc.) before we ever tackled words--like cat, bat, mat, hat, etc. I remember the 'joy' of reading such great books Matt the Rat, Pig in the Wig. But each phonics program, I believe, is a little different. And phonics doesn't have to mean that you divorce all meaning from the process.

The books are simple stories about trucks being trucks and doing truckish things on the road and on construction sites. My favorites are probably Truck It In! and Trash Dash. For preschoolers who are truck enthusiasts these books may be a lot of fun. They do include plenty of sound effects like beep, crash, splash, etc.

Tractor Tracks = short a
Get Set to Wreck = short e
Mix it up = short i
Stop! Road Block! = short o
Dump Truck Dump! = short u
Raise the Crane = long a
Beep! Beep! = long e
Fire Siren = long i
Slow Tow Home = long o
Go, Trucks, Go! = plurals
Trash Dash = sh
Truck it In! = ck

Sample text from the books:

I am a tractor.
I drag my plow
across the land.
I can plant the seeds.

Let's get set to wreck!
Let's send the
metal ball flying.

I am a big
mixer truck.
I have a big list
of things to do.

I am a dump truck.
I lug and dump stuff.
I hum as I run.
Hum! Hum! Hum!

A rock is stuck
in the muck.
We need a truck!

They bold the text that (supposedly) at least illustrates the new concept. They don't always get it right. Sometimes they bold something that doesn't make the right sound. (Across doesn't have a short a sound. Send doesn't have a short e sound, at least it doesn't to my ears.) Sometimes something makes the right sound, but doesn't get bolded.

Firefighters climb
up my sides.
They hold on tight.
My siren is loud.
My lights shine.

Climb has a long i sound as does my. And I'm not sure why they didn't include shine.

I'm not sure why they didn't include a long u book other than the fact that maybe they couldn't think of anything truck or construction related to go with a long u sound. (I can't think of anything off hand either.) They're not perfect books, but they're fun books.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Friday, June 5, 2009

Snugglebug Friday: In My Pond and In My Nest

Gillingham, Sara. In My Pond. Chronicle Books: 2009

In My Pond is a cute book that immediately catches the eye due to the orange felt fish "floating" in the center of the book. At first Ladybug thought the fish was detachable but on closer observation and after Snugglebug tugged on it a time or two, we realized it was a finger puppet that remains attached to the book itself. This seemed to be an interesting idea but Snugglebug, who has newly discovered the art of crawling, quickly lost interest despite the puppet. The text is simple, descriptive, and lyrical while not being rhyming. It is a pleasant little story about a fish describing his underwater home. The illustrations are very appealing in that they are neither too bright nor too dull and encompass different shapes and colors on each page. The artist does a wonderful job of adding depth to the illustrations without distracting from the simplicity of the text. There are two titles in this series with the same author and illustrator.

The second is
In My Nest which is a bird describing its nest. The text is quite similar but of course with different descriptions. In My Nest also has the cute finger puppet but this time a bird. Both books are cute, and are more appropriate for the "not quite crawling" crowd. Once mobility is discovered it seems that it takes a lot more to keep the interest of certain young readers, with Snugglebug being in that group. So grab these books while your little ones are still little.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Now We Are Six

Milne, A.A. 1927. Now We Are Six. Illustrations by Ernest H. Shepard.

There's something pleasant and charming and wonderfully subdued and just right about A.A. Milne's poetry. True, he's probably best known for his two Pooh books--Winnie the Pooh and House at Pooh Corner, but his two poetry books for children are well worth the read. Personally, it's hard to compare his books. Really, Now We Are Six has the best, best poem in the whole world "Us Two"; yet When We Were Very Young contains a greater number of poems that I love and remember. Of course, you don't have to choose between them. There is plenty of love to go around.

Highlights from Now We Are Six include "Us Two," "The Good Little Girl," and "The End."

Here's how "Us Two" starts off...

Wherever I am, there's always Pooh,
There's always Pooh and Me.
Whatever I do, he wants to do,
"Where are you going today?" says Pooh:
"Well, that's very odd 'cos I was too.
Let's go together," says Pooh, says he.
"Let's go together," says Pooh.

Both books are good books. Partly, this goodness is the result of Milne. But part of me thinks that the 'classic-ness' of the books--the timelessness of it is the result of the incredibly magical oh-so-perfect and somewhat inspirational artwork of Ernest H. Shepard. I mean classic pooh is classic pooh. Granted, I guess some folks may not love classic pooh. But still. I would think classic pooh is the epitome of cuteness and rightness in the world.

Have you read Now We Are Six? Do you have a favorite poem?

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

Monday, June 1, 2009

When We Were Very Young

Milne, A.A. 1924. When We Were Very Young. Illustrated by Ernest H. Shepard.

I love A.A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh and House At Pooh Corner. And while these two poetry books, When We Were Very Young and Now We Are Six, can never even come close to the magic of those other books, the all-Pooh-and-friends books, I enjoy them nonetheless. Why? Because Milne can have a way with words. A way of saying the very ordinary in a memorable, sometimes magical way. There's something sentimental about them without being overly sentimental. If that makes any sense at all. Included in this first poetry book, we see "Buckingham Palace," "Lines and Squares," "Independence," "Politeness," "Missing," "Teddy Bear," and "Halfway Down." These are the highlights...for me...the best of the best.

To me, there's no denying the perfection of pieces like "Teddy Bear" and "Halfway Down."

Here's how Teddy Bear starts off:

A bear, however hard he tries,
Grows tubby without exercise.
Our teddy bear is short and fat
Which is not to be wondered at;
He gets what exercise he can
By falling off the ottoman,
But generally seems to lack
The energy to clamber back.

Here's how Halfway Down starts off:

Halfway down the stairs
Is a stair
Where I sit.
There isn't any
Other stair
Quite like
I'm not at the bottom,
I'm not at the top;
So this is the stair
I always

Have you read When We Were Very Young? Have you read it recently? Do you have a favorite poem or two from it? If you haven't read it yet, you should! Of course, the two Pooh books are most important to read if you haven't read any Milne, but still.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers