Saturday, March 26, 2011

Mini Racer

Mini Racer. Kristy Dempsey. Illustrated by Bridget Strevens-Marzo. 2011. Bloomsbury. 32 pages.

Start your engines! Time to race,  
round the corners, take your place.
Ready, steady; green light, go!
Mini Racer won't go slow.
Out the gate and down the hill,
jump a speed bump, show your skill!
Over, under, in, and through,
obstacles are tough to do.

The animals are the drivers of the race cars in this one. And it's just a cute, fun story. It's fun. It's playful. It rhymes. The good kind of rhyme--you know, the kind with actual rhythm. The illustrations are bright, colorful, and match the playful spirit of the text. There are some GREAT details in the illustrations. The things that you probably won't notice until the second time through.

Text: 3 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 6 out of 10

© 2011 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Small Saul

Small Saul. Ashley Spires. 2011. March 2011. Kids Can Press. 32 pages.

Small Saul loved the sea. He loved its vastness, its calmness, its blueness.

Small Saul wants to be a pirate--a real pirate. But he's not only small--much, much smaller than your average pirate, he's also different, you might say special. Small Saul does not have the strengths generally associated with pirates. He has his own way of seeing the world, his own way of doing things. And the other pirates, well, they don't always understand Small Saul. In fact, most of the time, they don't understand him at all. Can Small Saul find his own place on the pirate ship? Can Small Saul's uniqueness be a blessing instead of a curse?

I liked this one. I didn't love it. Not like I loved Ashley Spires' Binky the Space Cat books. But it was fun; it was enjoyable.

Text: 3 out of 5
Illustrations: 2 out of 5
Total: 5 out of 10

© 2011 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Henry and the Clubhouse

Henry and the Clubhouse. Beverly Cleary. 1962. HarperCollins. 192 pages.

Henry Huggins had a lot of good ideas that fall when he first had his paper route, but somehow his ideas had a way of not turning out as he had planned. Something always went wrong.

Henry is trying to prove to everyone that he's responsible enough for his own paper route. But that isn't always easy. For example, one day he forgets about his paper route because he gets super-excited about the opportunity to ride to the town dump in a bathtub on a trailer. (He pretends he's the president on parade.) His mother saved the day, that time, but he's been warned by his parents not to let it happen again. (The forgetting, not the riding around town in a tub.) So when Henry decides that he can responsibly build a clubhouse with his friends in his backyard AND responsibly deliver his route on time each day, he does have something to prove. Can he do the job well? Can he deliver the papers? Can he get new subscriptions to the paper? Can he collect the money for the papers on time? His job is more challenging than he at first thought.

I enjoyed this one. I did. Now, I didn't love it when Henry dressed up as an Indian for Halloween and greeted people with "How!" but the Ramona chapters were delightful as always! Ramona is in kindergarten, and she's become addicted to television, addicted to commercials. She LOVES to sing jingles and quote commercials to any one and every one she meets in the neighborhood. Her favorite TV personality is Sheriff Bud. When Ramona becomes too much of a pest--a shadow on his paper route--Henry gets a horribly terribly wonderful idea on how to get her to behave. But will it work in the way he intended?

Other Henry Huggins books: Henry Huggins, Henry and Beezus, Henry and Ribsy. Henry and the Paper Route.

Other Ramona books: Beezus and Ramona, Ramona the Pest, Ramona the Brave, Ramona and Her Father, Ramona and Her Mother, Ramona Quimby Age 8, Ramona Forever, Ramona's World.

© 2011 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Henry and the Paper Route

Henry and the Paper Route. Beverly Cleary. 1957/1990. HarperCollins. 208 pages.

One Friday afternoon Henry Huggins sat on the front steps of his white house on Klickitat Street, with his dog Ribsy at his feet. He was busy trying to pick the cover off an old golf ball to see what was inside. It was not very interesting work, but it was keeping him busy until he could think of something better to do.

Now that he has his bicycle, now that he's almost eleven, Henry is dreaming of only one thing. He wants a paper route. He's seen Scooter delivering papers on his route for several years now. And he's always been a little envious. He knows that he's strong enough, responsible enough, but how can he prove it to Mr. Capper? Henry finds out the wrong way that taking four kittens hidden with you in your jacket is not the best way to make a first impression with your would-be boss. But still, the dream lives part encouraged by Scooter who "allows" him to help fold papers now and then. There are even a few days when Scooter lets Henry deliver his route. But a few more obstacles still stand in his way: a new neighbor named Murph and a not-so-new neighbor with a runaway imagination, yes, Ramona is back!

I enjoyed this one. I did. The chapters with Ramona were great. They definitely highlight her imaginative yet rebellious spirit. In one chapter, she's refusing to remove her monkey tail. Since Beezus and Henry are trying to collect paper for a paper drive, and since they need Ramona's wagon, they are having to deal with Ramona's temper. It isn't easy. In another chapter, Ramona has decided that she is a paper boy. She's following along behind the paper delivery route--and well, let's just say that means BIG, BIG trouble.

Other Henry Huggins books: Henry Huggins, Henry and Beezus, Henry and Ribsy.

© 2011 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Henry and Ribsy

Henry and Ribsy. Beverly Cleary. 1954/1990. HarperCollins. 192 pages.

One warm Saturday morning in August, Henry Huggins and his mother and father were eating breakfast in their square white house on Klickitat Street. Henry's dog Ribsy sat close to Henry's chair, hoping for a handout. 

After enjoying the first two Henry Huggins books, I'm sad to say that I didn't enjoy this third in the series. Well, with one exception. The chapter on Ramona and the PTA was fabulous. For the most part, Henry and Ribsy is about Henry's desire to be allowed to go on a fishing trip with his father. His father has conditionally agreed to it. The problem? If anyone complains about Ribsy's behavior, then Henry will have to miss the trip after all. Can Henry keep his dog out of trouble? Is that too much to ask?

This one had me going "Poor, Henry" throughout. In the first chapter, Henry goes with his father to the service station.

Henry was happy to be going someplace, even just to the service station, with his father. He always had a grown-up, man-to-man feeling when they were alone together. He wished his father had time to take him places oftener. (12)

In the second chapter, Henry is learning responsibility and getting an increase in his allowance. His allowance will go up if and only if he agrees to take out the garbage each and every day. (I thought it funny when Cleary writes, "That week Henry took out the garbage every day. His mother never had to remind him more than twice" (43). But something happens which keeps the garbageman from collecting the Huggins' trash one week, and, well, the results are quite smelly. Poor Henry is trying to stuff the trash down as far as he can. Poor Henry jumping up and down in garbage, how could I not feel for him a little?

In the third chapter, his mother gives him a horrible, horrible haircut. He looks pitiful. And even his good friends can't help laughing at him. He thinks his case is helpless....until his mother saves the day by being sneaky! (I had to love that part!)

By far my favorite chapter was Ramona and the P.T.A. In this one, Henry's parents have gone to the P.T.A. meeting at school. Beezus and Ramona come over to his place--Henry and Beezus want to play checkers. But when Ramona tilts her icecream cone giving Ribsy the opportunity to steal it, well, let's just say the trouble begins. She gets him back. Don't worry on her account. For she steals his bone. That ends things from Ramona's point of view, not so much from Ribsy's. But Ramona finds something to throw a fit over, don't worry! She starts demanding P.T.A. She wants it. She needs it. Give it to her now. She doesn't understand that the initials are for a grown-up meeting. She thinks the letters mean something good like c-o-o-k-i-e-s and c-o-k-e-s and c-a-n-d-y. Can Henry and Beezus outsmart Ramona?

The rest of the book is about fishing. To me that means it becomes B-O-R-I-N-G.

© 2011 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Henry and Beezus

Henry and Beezus. Beverly Cleary. 1952/2002. HarperCollins. 192 pages.

Henry Huggins stood by the front window of his square white house on Klickitat Street and wondered why Sunday afternoon seemed so much longer than any other part of the week. 

I enjoyed Henry Huggins. But I think I enjoyed Henry and Beezus even more! In this second book, Henry Huggins has his mind on one thing and one thing only. He NEEDS a bicycle. He WANTS a bicycle. Since his parents can't afford to buy him one, he's determined to work hard doing whatever he can to earn and save his own money for it. Henry Huggins is nothing if not responsible--most of the time!

His obsession with bicycles is making him more than a little jealous of Scooter, a boy in the neighborhood that has a new bicycle of his own--and a paper route. He also spend a little more time with Beezus (and subsequently with Ramona) in this second book. I can see why Ramona demanded some books of her own! And, then, of course, there's Ribsy!

Will Henry get his bicycle? You'll have to read for yourself and see! 

From "Henry Gets Rich"
"Come on, Ramona," said Beezus, taking an old panda bear out of the wagon. "We're going with Henry."
"No," said Ramona.
Henry was growing anxious. What if Scooter decided to cut through the vacant lot? "Jeepers, Beezus, we've just got to hurry. It's awfully important. If we don't get where we're going, we might be too late."
"Ramona," coaxed Beezus, "can't you play that game some other time?"
"What game?" asked Henry. He couldn't see that Ramona was playing any game.
"She's playing she's waiting for a bus," explained Beezus.
Henry groaned. It was the dumbest game he had ever heard of. "Doesn't she know it isn't any fun just to sit on a box?" he asked, looking nervously up and down the street. If only he could be sure no one else had discovered his gum!
"Sh-h," whispered Beezus. "She thinks it's fun and I don't want her to find out it isn't. It keeps her quiet." Then she said to her little sister, "If you get in the wagon, Henry and I'll pull you and you can pretend you're riding on the bus." (44-46)

From "Henry Parks His Dog"

"Of course, you may go, Beezus," said Mrs. Huggins. "Henry will be glad to take you."
"Isn't it pretty far for Ramona to walk?" asked Henry. "It's about ten blocks. Long blocks, too."
"Oh, no. Ramona never gets tired," said Beezus. "Daddy says he wishes sometimes she would, but she never does." (107)

© 2011 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Mary Poppins

Mary Poppins. P.L. Travers. Illustrated by Mary Shepard. 1934/2006. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 224 pages.

If you want to find Cherry-Tree Lane all you have to do is ask the Policeman at the cross-roads. He will push his helmet slightly to one side, scratch his head thoughtfully, and then he will point his huge white-gloved finger and say: "First to your right, second to your left, sharp right again, and you're there. Good-morning." 

I enjoyed reading P.L. Travers' Mary Poppins. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. It's a strange novel, that's true. The chapters are episodic. Some chapters are "better" than others, in my opinion. If you equate being better with being more entertaining. (But since what entertains one person may be someone else's idea of oh-so-boring, you can make up your own mind.) And Mary Poppins has more to her than you might expect. She's vain. She's bossy. She can be cranky. She can be great fun, encouraging you to imagine this or that. Or not. Sometimes she's just not in that kind of mood. Sometimes she doesn't want questions; she doesn't want to play around. Sometimes she's definitely no-nonsense. Mary Poppins is nanny to four Banks children: Jane and Michael, the older ones, and Barbara and John, the toddler ones. (The novel sees them turning one.) So overall, I'd recommend it!

Mary Poppins took out a large bottle labelled "One Tea-Spoon to be Taken at Bed-Time."
A spoon was attached to the neck of the bottle, and into this Mary Poppins poured a dark crimson fluid. "Is that your medicine?" enquired Michael, looking very interested.
"No, yours," said Mary Poppins, holding out the spoon to him. Michael stared. He wrinkled up his nose. He began to protest.
"I don't want it. I don't need it. I won't!"
But Mary Poppins's eyes were fixed upon him, and Michael suddenly discovered that you could not look at Mary Poppins and disobey her. There was something strange and extraordinary about her--something that was frightening and at the same time most exciting. The spoon came nearer. He held his breath, shut his eyes and gulped. A delicious taste ran round his mouth. He turned his tongue in it. He swallowed, and a happy smile ran round his face.
"Strawberry ice," he said ecstatically. "More, more, more!" (11-12)
"Where have you been?" they asked her.
"In Fairyland," said Mary Poppins.
"Did you see Cinderella?" said Jane.
"Huh, Cinderella? Not me," said Mary Poppins contemptuously. "Cinderella, indeed!"
"Or Robinson Crusoe?" asked Michael.
"Robinson Crusoe--pooh!" said Mary Poppins rudely.
"Then how could you have been there? It couldn't have been our Fairyland!"
Mary Poppins gave a superior sniff.
"Don't you know," she said pityingly, "that everybody's got a Fairyland of their own?" (28)

When they go Christmas shopping...

"That will do nicely for Daddy," said Michael, selecting a clockwork train with special signals. "I will take care of it for him when he goes to the City."
"I think I will get this for Mother," said Jane, pushing a small doll's perambulator which, she felt sure, her Mother had always wanted. "Perhaps she will lend it to me sometimes."
After that, Michael chose a packet of hairpins for each of the Twins and a Meccano set for his Mother, a mechanical beetle for Robertson Ay, a pair of spectacles for Ellen whose eyesight was perfectly good, and some bootlaces for Mrs. Brill who always wore slippers.
Jane, after some hesitation, eventually decided that a white dickey would be just the thing for Mr. Banks, and she bought Robinson Crusoe for the Twins to read when they grew up.
"Until they are old enough, I can read it myself," she said. "I am sure they will lend it to me." (181-82)

© 2011 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Saturday, March 12, 2011

A Bargain for Frances

A Bargain for Frances. Russell Hoban. Illustrated by Lillian Hoban. 1970/1992. HarperCollins. 64 pages.

It was a fine summer day, and after breakfast Frances said, "I am going to play with Thelma."
"Be careful," said Mother.
"Why do I have to be careful?" said Frances.
"Remember the last time?" said Mother. 

"Which time was that?" said Frances. 
"That was the time you played catch with Thelma's new boomerang," said Mother. "Thelma did all the throwing, and you came home with lumps on your head."
"I remember that time now," said Frances.
"And do you remember the other time last winter?" said Mother. 
"I remember that time too," said Frances. "That was the first time there was ice on the pond. Thelma wanted to go skating, and she told me to try the ice first."
"Who came home wet?" said Mother. "You or Thelma?"
"I came home wet," said Frances.
"Yes," said Mother. "That is why I say be careful. Because when you play with Thelma you always get the worst of it."

Poor Frances! Her mother was right. Again. Thelma had ulterior motives with wanting to play tea party with her friend, Frances. And Frances got tricked! Tricked into trading her money for Thelma's old tea set. Her ugly old plastic tea set. (A set so ugly that even Gloria sees it as junk.) Thelma then uses the money to buy a new tea set--the exact tea set that Frances had been saving for for months and months. Will Frances get even with Thelma? Can she outwit this trickster? Can this friendship be saved?!

I have enjoyed rereading the Frances books. Have you read any of these? Do you have a favorite?

© 2011 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Best Friends for Frances

Best Friends for Frances. Russell Hoban. Illustrated by Lillian Hoban. 1969/1994. HarperCollins. 32 pages.

It was a fine summer morning, so Frances took out her bat and ball. "Will you play ball with me?" said her little sister, Gloria. "No," said Frances. "You are too little." Gloria sat down and cried. Frances walked over to her friend Albert's house, singing a song: 
Sisters that are much too small
To throw or catch or bat a ball
Are really not much good at all,
Except for crying.

It was easy for Frances to dismiss Gloria as an unworthy playmate, but when Albert (and later Harold) dismiss Frances, well, Frances learns that sometimes a sister can be a friend--a best friend. It's summer and Frances loves to play with her friends. One day Albert rejects Frances because it's his "wandering" day. And the next day, Albert and Harold reject Frances because she's a girl, and girls can't play baseball as well as boys. But Frances is not to be stopped. Even if it means playing with her little sister, she'll show Albert what is what! If Albert wants a no-girls-allowed club, then she'll start a no-boys-allowed club.

"Do you want to play ball?"
"All right," said Gloria.
"If any boys come, they can't play," said Frances, "and I think I will be your friend now."
"How can a sister be a friend?" said Gloria.
"You'll see," said Frances.
"For frogs and ball and dolls?"
"Yes," said Frances.
"And will you show me how to print my name?" said Gloria.
"Yes," said Frances.
"Then you will be my best friend," said Gloria. "Will it just be today, or longer?"
"Longer," said Frances. (20-21)

I do like this one. But Frances isn't always nice in this one. Then again neither is Albert. Or Harold. The only one that is nice all the time is Gloria.

© 2011 Becky Laney of Young Readers

A Birthday for Frances

A Birthday for Frances. Russell Hoban. Illustrated by Lillian Hoban. 1968/1995. HarperCollins. 32 pages.

It was the day before Frances's little sister Gloria's birthday. Mother and Gloria were sitting at the kitchen table, making place cards for the party. Frances was in the broom closet singing:
Happy Thursday to you,
Happy Thursday to you,
Happy Thursday, dear Alice,
Happy Thursday to you.
"Who is Alice?" asked Mother.
"Alice is somebody that nobody can see," said Frances. "And that is why she does not have a birthday. So I am singing Happy Thursday to her." 
"Today it is Friday," said Mother.
"It is Thursday for Alice," said Frances.
"Alice will not have h-r-n-d, and she will not have g-k-l-s. But we are singing together."
"What are h-r-n-d and g-k-l-s?" asked Mother.
"Cake and candy. I thought you could spell," said Frances.
"I am sure that Alice will have cake and candy on her birthday," said Mother.
"But Alice does not have a birthday," said Frances.
"Yes, she does," said Mother. "Even if nobody can see her, Alice has one birthday every year, and so do you. Your birthday is two months from now. Then you will be the birthday girl. But tomorrow is Gloria's birthday, and she will be the birthday girl." 
"That is how it is, Alice," said Frances. "Your birthday is always the one that is not now."

I just LOVE and ADORE A Birthday for Frances. It is Gloria's birthday. And Frances decides--a bit reluctantly--that she should buy something for her baby sister with her allowance. She decides on one Chompo bar (chocolate bar) and four gumballs. But it isn't easy for Frances to keep her mind made up. The more she thinks about it, the more she thinks that she should keep the Chompo bar for herself. The gumballs, well, they already met their fate. By accident, Frances claims. Will Gloria receive a Chompo bar for her birthday? Or will Frances be selfish and eat it herself?!

This book has the delightful Chompo Bar song in it:
Chompo Bars are nice to get.
Chompo Bars taste better yet
When they're someone else's.
I would definitely recommend this one. Do you have a favorite Frances book?

© 2011 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Friday, March 11, 2011

Bread and Jam for Frances

Bread and Jam for Frances. Russell Hoban. Illustrated by Lillian Hoban. 1964/1992. HarperCollins. 32 pages.

It was breakfast time, and everyone was at the table. Father was eating his egg. Mother was eating her egg. Gloria was sitting in a high chair and eating her egg too. Frances was eating bread and jam.
"What a lovely egg!" said Father.
"If there is one thing I am fond of for breakfast, it is a soft-boiled egg."
"Yes," said Mother, spooning up egg for the baby, "it is just the thing to start the day off right."
"Ah!" said Gloria, and ate up her egg.
Frances did not eat her egg. She sang a little song to it. She sang the song very softly:
I do not like the way you slide,
I do not like your soft inside,
I do not like you lots of ways,
And could do for many days
Without eggs.

Frances just LOVES, LOVES, LOVES bread and jam. She wants to eat it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack. She doesn't want to try new foods. She doesn't want to eat anything BUT bread and jam. Other people in her life--like her good friend, Albert, may have more interesting lunches, but is anything as good as her favorite comfort food?! Will Frances, the badger, ever tire of bread and jam?! Read and see in one of my favorite, favorite picture books! Frances makes up so many lovely songs in this one! And readers get to meet Albert--I've always liked Albert very much!

© 2011 Becky Laney of Young Readers

A Baby Sister for Frances

A Baby Sister for Frances. Russell Hoban. Illustrated by Lillian Hoban. 1964/1992. HarperCollins. 32 pages.

It was a quiet evening. Father was reading his newspaper. Mother was feeding Gloria, the new baby. Frances was sitting under the kitchen sink. She was singing a little song:
Plinketty, plinketty, plinketty, plink,
Here is the dishrag that's under the sink.
Here are the buckets and brushes and me,
Plinketty, plinketty, plinketty, plee.
She stopped the song and listened. Nobody said anything.

Frances is having a hard time adjusting to her new baby sister, Gloria. She's still Frances, an imaginative badger that loves to make up her own songs, but she's finding it harder and harder to be noticed by her busy parents. And her parents don't have as much time to devote to keeping things in the house flowing smoothly. Frances decides it may be best to run away.

After dinner that evening Frances packed her little knapsack very carefully. She put in her tiny special blanket and her alligator doll. She took all of the nickels and pennies out of her bank, for travel money, and she took her good luck coin for good luck. Then she took a box of prunes from the kitchen and five chocolate sandwich cookies.
"Well," said Frances, "it is time to say goodbye. I am on my way. Good bye."
"Where are you running away to?" said Father.
"I think that under the dining-room table is the best place," said Frances. "It's cozy and the kitchen is near if I run out of cookies."
"That is a good place to run away to," said Mother, "but I'll miss you."
"I'll miss you too," said Father.
"Well, said Frances, "good-bye," and she ran away. (12-13)

I enjoy this one. It's not my favorite Frances story--in fact, it's probably my least favorite--but that has more to do with the others being so great, so memorable.

© 2011 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Bedtime for Frances

Bedtime for Frances. Russell Hoban. Illustrated by Garth Williams. 1960/1996. HarperCollins. 32 pages.

The big hand of the clock is at 12.
The little hand is at 7.
It is seven o'clock.
It is bedtime for Frances.
Mother said, "It is time for bed."
Father said, "It is time for bed."
Frances said, "I want a glass of milk."
"All right," said Father.
"All right," said Mother.
"You may have a glass of milk."
Frances drank the milk.

I love, love, love Bedtime for Frances. Frances is a badger that is finding it very difficult to sleep. She's had her glass of water. She's been kissed and hugged. She's got her teddy bear and her doll. But Frances imagination is too active to allow her to fall asleep quickly. She thinks there is a tiger in her room. No, a giant in her room. Oh no! There's a crack in the ceiling. What if something scary were to crawl out?! And what is that tapping on her window?! Her parents are kind and gentle--at least at first. But when these interruptions persist, well, her father gets a little grumpy. Frances finally embraces her father's message: every one has a job. It may be the wind's job to make noise; it may be the moth's job to bump into things; but her job is to sleep.

© 2011 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Henry Huggins

Henry Huggins. Beverly Cleary. 1950/2000. HarperCollins. 160 pages.

Henry Huggins was in the third grade. His hair looked like a scrubbing brush and most of his grown-up front teeth were in. He lived with his mother and father in a square white house on Klickitat Street. Except for having his tonsils out when he was six and breaking his arm falling out of a cherry tree when he was seven, nothing much happened to Henry. I wish something exciting would happen, Henry often thought. But nothing very interesting ever happened to Henry, at least not until one Wednesday afternoon in March.

Growing up, I just loved, loved, loved the Ramona books by Beverly Cleary. (Beezus and Ramona, Ramona the Pest, Ramona the Brave, Ramona and Her Father, Ramona and Her Mother, Ramona Quimby Age 8, Ramona Forever, Ramona's World.) But I don't think I paid the same attention to the Henry Huggins books--in fact, I'm not sure I read them at all. (Though the incident with the guppies in chapter two did feel familiar, so perhaps I read the first one.) Did I enjoy Henry Huggins? Yes! Very much. I found the book to be very funny, very playful. The chapters are episodic which was just perfect. Readers see Henry playing with his dog, playing with the neighborhood children, learning responsibility, working to earn extra money, and we see Henry at school. There's a Christmas chapter which I just found delightful! In "The Green Christmas" Henry Huggins is cast as the star of the Christmas play. Unfortunately is the worst role in the world for him to get--he's cast as Timmy. First, he's cast as a LITTLE boy. Second, he'll have to wear pajamas. Third, he'll be tucked into bed, and kissed by his mother (an eighth grade girl). Fourth, he then "falls" asleep and dreams the whole play. And that's just for starters. Henry thinks and thinks and thinks. He HAS to find a way to get out of this humiliating play. Good thing he rescued Ribsy in chapter one, for this dog may just end up saving him!
I also loved the second chapter, "Gallons of Guppies." In this chapter, Henry learns that two fish can turn into TOO MANY fish within a matter of weeks or months. It was just a great chapter, very funny!

© 2011 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Frog and Toad Together

Frog and Toad Together. An I Can Read Book. Arnold Lobel. 1971. HarperCollins. 64 pages.

One morning Toad sat in bed. "I have many things to do," he said. "I will write them all down on a list so that I can remember them." Toad wrote on a piece of paper: A List of Things To Do Today. Then he wrote: Wake Up. "I have done that," said Toad, and he crossed out: wake up. Then Toad wrote other things on the paper.

Oh how I love Frog and Toad! I do! This book contains five stories: A List, The Garden, Cookies, Dragons and Giants, and The Dream.

In the first story, "The List," Toad panics when he loses his to-do list. The ever-supportive Frog is there by his side, but it may take a while to calm this worried Toad!

In the second story, "The Garden," Toad is envious of his friend Frog's garden. Though Frog warns him that a garden takes a lot of work, and a lot of patience, Toad isn't concerned. He wants a garden and he wants it NOW. Will Toad succeed in his gardening attempt?

The third story, "Cookies," is one of my FAVORITE FAVORITE FAVORITE stories of all time. Toad bakes some cookies. He even decides to share with his friend, Frog. But when they become unable to stop eating the oh-so-delicious cookies, then Frog insists that they have will power. Toad is less than enthused. Especially when he sees that Frog means to give his cookies to the birds. What will Toad do next?
"You know, Toad," said Frog, with his mouth full, "I think we should stop eating. We will soon be sick."
"You are right," said Toad. "Let us eat one last cookie, and then we will stop."
Frog and Toad ate one last cookie. There were many cookies left in the bowl.
"Frog," said Toad, "let us eat one very last cookie, and then we will stop."
Frog and Toad ate one very last cookie.
"We must stop eating!" cried Toad as he ate another.
"Yes," said Frog, reaching for a cookie, "we need will power."
"What is will power?" asked Toad.
"Will power is trying hard not to do something that you really want to do," said Frog.
"You mean like trying not to eat all of these cookies?" asked Toad.
"Right," said Frog. (32-35)
Of course, the scene just gets better and better and better!

The fourth story "Dragons and Giants" doesn't thrill me. But it could be because it follows "Cookies," and it would take a LOT to top that! In this one, Frog and Toad decide to see how brave they are! They find they are very brave safe at home in the closet and in the bed.

The fifth story, "The Dream," is all about ego! Toad dreams that he is "the greatest Toad in all the world." As his greatness increases, his friend, Frog, becomes smaller and smaller and smaller until he vanishes. Toad realizes that having a good best friend like Toad would be better than being the greatest.

© 2011 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Days With Frog and Toad

Days with Frog and Toad. An I Can Read Book. Arnold Lobel. 1979. HarperCollins. 64 pages.

Toad woke up. "Drat!" he said. "This house is a mess. I have so much work to do." Frog looked through the window. "Toad, you are right," said Frog. "It is a mess." Toad pulled the covers over his head. "I will do it tomorrow," said Toad. "Today I will take life easy." Frog came into the house. "Toad," said Frog, "your pants and jacket are lying on the floor." "Tomorrow," said Toad from under the covers. "Your kitchen sink is filled with dirty dishes," said Frog. "Tomorrow," said Toad. "There is dust on your chairs." "Tomorrow," said Toad. "Your windows need scrubbing," said Frog. "Your plants need watering." "Tomorrow!" cried Toad. "I will do it all tomorrow!" Toad sat on the edge of his bed. "Blah," said Toad. "I feel down in the dumps." "Why?" asked Frog. "I am thinking about tomorrow," said Toad. "I am thinking about all of the many things that I will have to do." "Yes," said Frog, "tomorrow will be a very hard day for you." 

This Frog and Toad book contains five stories: "Tomorrow," "The Kite," "Shivers," "The Hat," and "Alone." I really, really enjoy three of these stories.

Tomorrow is probably my favorite in this collection. (And it's useful for inspiration.) I love Toad's drat's and blah's. Toad has a choice to make--to do the work of each day on that day, to take the work with the pleasure, OR to put off all the work so he can have all the pleasure. But there is always a day of reckoning. So perhaps, it's best that Toad learns this lesson quickly!

The Hat is a delightful story. Frog gives Toad a birthday present, a hat. But the hat is much too big for his friend. He feels awful about that. How can he fix the hat without his friend realizing it?!

Alone is another wonderful story! Toad discovers a note on his friend Frog's door. A note saying that Frog wants to be alone for a while! Toad worries and panics a bit! Why oh why oh why would Frog ever want time away from him?! Does this mean that Frog doesn't want to spend any time with him? Does it mean that Frog doesn't want him as a best friend anymore?!

The Kite is a story about diligence and perseverance. The two friends are having trouble getting their kite to fly. One friend wants to give up, wants to just admit that their kite is junk and that it will never, ever fly. The other wants to keep trying. It's a playful story. And Frog and Toad do shine in it!

Shivers is about the two friends telling a ghost story and getting delicious shivers.

© 2011 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Frog and Toad All Year

Frog and Toad All Year. An I Can Read Book. Arnold Lobel. 1976. HarperCollins. 64 pages.

Frog knocked at Toad's door. "Toad, wake up," he cried. "Come out and see how wonderful the winter is!" "I will not," said Toad. "I am in my warm bed." "Winter is beautiful," said Frog. "Come out and have fun." "Blah," said Toad. "I do not have any winter clothes." Frog came into the house. "I have brought you some things to wear," he said. Frog pushed a coat down over the top of Toad. Frog pulled snowpants up over the bottom of Toad. He put a hat and scarf on Toad's head. "Help!" cried Toad. "My best friend is trying to kill me!" "I am only getting you ready for winter," said Frog. 

I love Frog and Toad. I do. Do you?! Are you more like Toad or Frog?! This collection includes five stories--all season-themed stories--"Down the Hill," "The Corner," "Ice Cream," "The Surprise," and "Christmas Eve."

"Down the Hill," the winter-story of the collection, has Frog and Toad out in the snow. Sledding may be fun, Toad admits, but he can't help feeling that BED IS MUCH BETTER!

"The Corner," the spring-story of the collection, has Frog sharing words of wisdom from his father. Something about how spring is around the corner. This made the young Frog curious because which corner is spring around?! So he sets out to find it!

"Ice Cream," the summer-story of the collection, has Toad bringing his best friend some ice cream. But the trip back to Frog, back to the pond, doesn't go according to plan! And ice cream can be a bit messy and sticky. Will these two friends be able to enjoy some delicious ice cream?!

"The Surprise" the autumn-story of the collection, has Frog and Toad 'surprising' each other. Toad rushes to Frog's house to rake his leaves. Frog rushes to Toad's house to rake his leaves. But the wind may have the last laugh! Good thing these friends will never know!

"Christmas Eve" is a holiday story of course! Frog was supposed to come to Toad's house for a big dinner. But. Frog is late. Toad begins to worry and worry and worry. Where is his friend?! Where could he be?! Did something happen to him?! Does Frog need to be saved?! Frog arrives finally with present in hand. He was late because he was wrapping Toad's present. A peaceful Christmas is theirs at last.

I enjoyed this collection. While it isn't quite as magical as Frog and Toad Together, I would still recommend it!

© 2011 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Friday, March 4, 2011

Frog and Toad Are Friends

Frog and Toad Are Friends. An I Can Read Book. Arnold Lobel. 1970. HarperCollins. 64 pages.

Frog ran up the path to Toad's house. He knocked on the front door. There was no answer, "Toad, Toad," shouted Frog, "wake up. It is spring!" "Blah," said a voice from inside the house. "Toad! Toad!" cried Frog. "The sun is shining! The snow is melting. Wake up!" "I am not here," said the voice. 

I love Frog and Toad. I do. I just love them. While this isn't my favorite-or-best Frog and Toad book, it is still worth reading. It contains five stories: Spring, The Story, A Lost Button, A Swim, and The Letter.

My favorites from the collection include "Spring" in which Frog tricks his friend into getting out of bed by changing his calendar and "The Letter" in which Frog cheers up his friend by sending him a letter in the mail.

All the stories highlight this special friendship--highlights each character's strengths and weaknesses. I would definitely recommend any Frog and Toad book!

© 2011 Becky Laney of Young Readers

Llama Llama Red Pajama

Llama, Llama Red Pajama. Anna Dewdney. 2005. Penguin. 40 pages.

Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney is one my favorite favorite picture books. The reason I haven't blogged about it is simply that I hadn't started my blog yet when it was released. And sometimes it does take a little while to go back to old favorites when there are so many new books being released each month.

Baby Llama with some separation anxiety issues. As his mother is putting him to bed, he is happy and soothed. But as soon as she leaves the room, he begins to miss her.

Llama llama
red pajama
feels alone
without his mama.

Baby Llama wants a drink.
Mama's at the kitchen sink.

Llama llama
red pajama
calls down to
his llama mama.

Mama says
she'll be up soon.
Baby Llama hums a tune.

But as the Mama Llama becomes distracted with household tasks and phone calls, Baby Llama goes from a little fretting to a full-out llama drama. But soon all is calm once again as Baby Llama is reassured of his mama's loving care as he drifts off to sleep.

I love the rhymes. I love the rhythms. I love the flow of it all. It's just so fun to read aloud. So fun. And I love the illustrations.

© 2011 Becky Laney of Young Readers