Thursday, September 30, 2010

Top Five Fridays - Laura Numeroff

We are continuing on this week celebrating my son's favorite reads. When he was just old enough to pick a book from the book shelf with intention and bring it to me to read again and again that book was often If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff and illustrated by Felicia Bond. And if not that one it was probably If you Throw a Pig a Party. I'm thrilled to add the wonderful children's books of Laura Numeroff to my list of favorite books that I'm working on here. The If you give book series are truly children's classics and I'm sure many of you have read them numerous times to your children. But those are not the only books that Laura Numeroff has written. We certainly have not read all of Numeroff's books but we have read many and here is our list of top five favorites-

1. If you Give a Mouse a Cookie (illustrator Felicia Bond)

2. If you Throw a Pig a Party (illustrator Felicia Bond)

3. What Grandmas/Grandpas do Best (Illustrator Lynn Munsinger)

4. The Chicken Sisters (illustrator Sharleen Collicott)

5. 10 Step Guide to Living with Your Monster (Illustrator Nate Evans)

What are your favorites? And for more fun with Laura Numeroff be sure to check out her website



Fall is here and I wanted to share one of our favorite fall activities: apple picking. If you have never gone apple picking I would highly recommend it. This has become a family tradition for the past 6 years now. It’s a seasonal activity which is a great fall marker as my preschoolers and I are talking and learning about the seasons. Not to mention all the yummy apples to eat, bake, decorate with, making applesauce and make crafts with. We seriously look forward to this all year long. I'm posting this a little late in the apple picking season, there's still a few weeks left though. I thought it would be fun to take a little break from book reviews and share something different here today.

Some of the u-pick apple orchards can be quite extensive operations, having onsite restaurants, playground, carousels, petting zoos, apple doughnuts (yum) and many other fun activities and services. You can find a u-pick farm near you at the following link:

Do plan to make a day of it, getting there as early as you can for a leisure visit, don’t stress if the kids aren’t feeling it and have to leave earlier than expected. We love to pack a picnic lunch to enjoy atthe orchard. Our kids have always been great and enjoy the ‘I picked it myself’, the fresh air and the sensory experience of the smell of apples, crisp autumn air and beautiful scenery.

Happy Picking!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

If I Built a Car

Another lucky library find and one of my oldest's favorite reads at this time is If I Built a Car by Chris Van Dusen. A ride in the old family car starts a young boy off imagining the kind of car he would design. Sure to hit home with any car loving children like my son. The sky's the limit with what this car of the future can do and the ocean too for that matter! Fun, colorful, rich illustrations with a retro feel accompany rhyming text about all the amazing features the boy would include in his car.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Spotlight on the Author - Richard Scarry

One of my favorite childhood authors was Richard Scarry and I am thrilled to be able to share these books with my two. My oldest in particular has taken too Richard Scarry books and being that we are celebrating his Birthday this week, I thought I'd share some posts of his favorite reads. I couldn't just pick one book to feature there are just too many to choose from. I think even a top five Friday would be a difficult task. So I decided to just highlight some of the books we actually have in our collection. My sweet big Sister remembers how much I loved these books when we were little and she has bought several for us to enjoy!

Richard Scarry began his career in Children's books in 1949 with Little Golden Books. He penned and illustrated over 300 books but probably best known for his Busytown Series home to Huckle Cat and Lowly Worm. Have you seen the Busytown Mysteries series on CBS Saturday mornings? It's really great too! The cartoon illustrations are well, um, busy, packed with all kinds of detail on every page. Personified animals of every size fill the pages often the books have a find the 'gold bug' on them for added fun. Many books have the map of busytown in the front or back of the book too. I think that was one of my favorite pages to study when I was little.

Richard Scarry's Best Storybook Ever or similar collections of stories are a great way to go.

There are fun board books for the youngest of readers, like this title Cars and Trucks from A to Z where all kinds of zany cars and trucks can be found like Lowly's apple car.

Individual storybooks can also be found like A Day at the Airport.

Or smaller storybook collections like this Please and Thank You Book.

As you can see Richard Scarry's books cover a wide arrange of topics, filled with delightful, well mannered (for the most part) animal characters. There's lots to learn and a good dose of silly fun to have!

Friday, September 24, 2010

A Pair of Sleepy Reads

I'd love to end my quiet week with these two great artsy, sleepy reads.

So Sleepy Story by Uri Shulevitz. Everything in a sleepy house is sleepy, sleepy until there is a disruption to their quiet rest and soon everyone is up and dancing! Things quiet down and they all drift off again, sleepy, sleepy and hopefully your little ones will be sleepy, sleepy too. The illustrations are ink and water color and move between blue-gray tones for sleepy time and brightly colored for when they are disturbed out of their sleep. Everything in the sleepy house from dishes to chairs have faces and are alive to sleep or dance about.

A Book of Sleep by Il Sung Na, is just that a book of all the ways different animals sleep, except for a night owl, who's up for the night. He keeps a watchful eye over everything until the morning when he's fast a sleep. There's a collage style to the ink and watercolor illustrations playing with patterns and textures. The pages are filled with little line drawings with all kinds of animals and nature for your little one to gaze at.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

An Egg is Quiet and A Seed is Sleepy

Well I thought I'd put a little twist on my quiet/sleepy week we're having around here with these two books by Dianne Hutts Aston and illustrated by Sylvia Long.

The First is titled An Egg is Quiet and the second, A Seed is Sleepy. I was thinking I'd post these in the spring but the titles couldn't be more perfect for this week. Besides reading, learning and a study in nature is always in season. Both books are similar to a naturalist journal with elegant text, observations and beautiful watercolor illustrations. Both explore the nature of their respective topics; eggs, seeds and well life. It's more science book than story book but will engage the youngest of readers, it is so lovely to look at and simple to read.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Quiet Book

I'm in a sleepy, quiet kind of mood these days. School's started, soccer has started and lots of playdates on the books. I feel like we're always on the run so I'm longing for those quiet fall days. You know just watching the leaves change color, long afternoon walks, enjoying the cooler weather. Speaking of weather it is still H-O-T, hot here I think adding to my quieter disposition. So I thought I'd feature some fun sleepy time, quiet time reads this week to match my mood not necessarily our reality. I'd like to start with The Quiet Book by Deborah Underwood and illustrated by Renata Liwska. This is simple read about all the different kinds of quiet. From sleepy time, to fun with friends, to taking in wonders around you there are many kinds of quiets and yes even mischievous quiets. My Mom often says that when we were little if my sister and I were being quiet she knew there was a good chance we were up to something. While not all the quiets might click with you and your young ones, many will and there will probably be others you and your child can add to the list too. The illustrations are sweet and quiet, a perfect match to the text. It is a wonderfully charming read.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Spotlight on the Author - Oliver Jeffers

I love when I find an author that really gets childhood. One that captures the sense of wonder and adventure. One that understands the boundless imagination of a child. Oliver Jeffers is one of those authors. He has written and illustrated three of my favorite picture books. They fall into what I call my simple reads category. I'm hooked on both the simple stylized watercolor illustrations to the quirky adventures that the little boy main character finds himself on.

How to Catch a Star , takes the readers on the plight of a young one's determination and curiousity to catch a star in the sky. I hear Perry Como's "Catch a Falling Star' song everytime I read this book. I love how at one point in the story the little boy simply heads to his well stocked closet to get his rocketship! It truely captures the spirit of reach for your dreams and try, try again.

Lost and Found, starts with an unlikely guest arriving at the door of the little boy, a lost penguin. The little boy is determined to help so, they set off to find the lost penguin's home in what else a row boat! It's a story of helping others and friendship.

The Way Back Home, finds our beloved little boy on another adventure but trouble comes along. Now he and a new space alien friend need to help each other get home in another tale of friendship and team work.

Other great reads from Oliver Jeffers include: The Great Paper Caper, The Incredible Book Eating Boy (would be fun to pair with the classic children's book Petunia) and The Heart and the Bottle.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

My Princess Bible by Andy Holmes

My Princess Bible by Andy Holmes and illustrated by Sergey Eliseev caught my attention as I have a little girl who adores all things Princesses. I loved the idea of celebrating God's princesses throughout the Bible and drawing the connection that we too can be God's princesses for little girls. The book is beautifully illustrated with images of God's princesses from the Bible and pictures of young girls as princesses. My little girl loved picking out the princess that looked most like her in the book. The cover is pink and sparkly, what little girl wouldn't want to look through it! The book covers 19 Bible stories of various women and a last one featuring us, the readers. The scripture reference is provided as is a rhyming text summary of the story picking up on one main teaching lesson of what made this woman a princess in God's eyes, like being a good helper, telling the truth and being giving for some examples. There is also a place to personalize the book after each story with your child's name. While I like the book and concept I do wish the story summaries weren't so brief and simplistic. It seems substance of story was compromised so that a simple rhyming text could be accomplished. I'd rather the stories didn't try to rhyme; just a well written summary of these stories would work for me.

I received a free copy of this book from Tyndale Publishing's book review program. The opinions expressed in this review are my own and I was not required to provide a positive review.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Little Yellow Leaf

The Little Yellow Leaf by Carin Berger, is one of our favorite fall reads. It is a simple beautifully written and equally beautifully illustrated children's book. The story is about a little yellow leaf that just isn't ready to drop from its branch. It hangs on as all the other leaves fall to the ground until it is the last leaf on the tree. This touches not just on the changing of the seasons but on how change in general can be hard. Berger is an award winning designer and illustrator and really delivers some unique illustrations in this book.The stiking illustrations are created using collage, making it a great book to pair with a study on collage art.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Harvest time reads

Fall Reads -

Fall is my favorite season and I can not wait any longer to post some great fall reads. We have a tradition of apple picking each fall and are currently busy trying to figure out when we can go this year. We go on seasonal picks through out the year and both kids love visiting these u-pick farms. I love Usborne's Stephen Cartwright's Farm Yard Tales series this time of year with all the adventures on Apple Tree Farm. I also love theme reading and Usborne has lots of selection to choose from to pair with learning all about life on a farm. I hope you enjoy these selections.

Reads about the farm-

Top Row: What's Happening on the Farm?, by Heather Amery, Illustrated by Stephen Cartwright. An educational activity book with questions to ask your little one, things to count, what's out of place and of course Cartwright's little yellow duck to spot on each page. Also in this series What's Happening at the Zoo.

Farm Animals Lift and Look, by Jessica Greenwell is part of a collection of other lift the flap series. Who's hiding, who's in the barn, who's in the field, just lift the flap and see. Another title in this series that goes with this theme nicely is Tractors Lift and Look.

Flip Flap Farm, takes readers along as you discover what happens at the farm throughout the year. Comes with lots of lift the flaps for busy fingers and curious minds to explore.

Middle Row: On the Farm, by Anna Milbourne. Yes, even more selections from the picture book series. I've listed more of the available titles in this previous post. Spend a day on the farm and learn all about what goes on.

The Complete Book of Farm Yard Tales, by Stephen Cartwright. You can buy these tales in individual books or get all 20 of them in this one book. Stephen Cartwright is probably the most well known author and illustrator of the Usborne books. Children will love these charming stories of life at Apple Tree Farm as they follow along the many adventures of Poppy and Sam and all the barnyard animals. Don't forget Cartwrigh's signature find the duck hidden on each page to spot.

A Garden for Pig, by Kathryn Thurman. From the good old USA comes the story of Pig who lives on an apple farm and while he likes apples he's tired of eating them all day and longs for some variety.

Bottom Row: Wind -Up Tractor Book, by Heather Amery. This picture book comes with a wind up tractor that travels around the tracks found in the book itself. Its a fun, interactive read to share with your child.

Farm Magnet Book, by Anna Civardi. Even more interactive adventure reading from Apple Tree Farm with this magnetic book that comes with reusable magnet pieces that your child can move around the pages. They can help feed the animals, collect eggs, drive the big red tractor and more!

Stencil Book, by Gillian Doherty and Jenny Tyler. One shown above is of all the fun characters and animals you will be reading up in the Farm Yard Tales series. There is also a Tractor and Trucks stencil book available amont others. Great complimentary activity selection for pairing up with all your on the farm reads.

Due to number of selections covered, I opted not to include other titles available in the various series. Series usually have several different topics and books in them. As always if you would like to order any of these books or have any questions regarding Usborne books and Kane Miller please contact me.

Friday, September 10, 2010

One Hand, Two Hands by Max Lucado

I was very excited to hear that Max Lucado had a new children's book out One Hand, Two Hands: Oh, the ways we can help with our hands!, illustrated by Gaby Hansen. We are fans of Lucado's children's books and this one did not disappoint. It's a simple story focused on what little hands can do and how they can help. It encourages little ones to be thankful for their hands and to use them in many useful ways. The story has simple rhyming text that tells how hands can play and work throughout the day. The text is accompanied by equally sweet, colorful, full page illustrations. It's a great read that looks at teachable moments of everyday activities. My favorite feature is the practicable application suggestions in the back of the book on how little hands can be; helping hands, kind hands, and loving hands. It's a great starting point for further discussion on how we can use our hands for God and others.

I received a free copy of this book through Thomas Nelson Publishing’s Book Sneeze book review program. The opinions expressed in this review are my own and I was not required to provide a positive review.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Reading Games

My next review is of an Usborne book that is currently out of print. I know, sorry, but I have seen used copies and some new available in a quick search. We got our copy to check out at the library. I'm also seriously considering sharing some of the homemade game projects that we made from this book in upcoming posts.

With two preschoolers, non-readers I'm doing lots of reading up on education and learning. I'm looking for books like Usborne You and Your Child Reading Games, by Ray Gibson. I'm just beginning to scratch the surface here on the learning years but I do know that I want learning to be fun. What better way then to play educational games and activities with my kids.

Reading Games is filled with just that and pretty much all of them can be made/assembled easily with everyday household items like yarn, straws, paper clips, markers. One thing that I appreciate more each year is all things homemade. What's even better? Being able to make these homemade games with the help of your kids. Some of my own fondest childhood games and activities were ones my own Mom made. Like a home made fishing game fashioned together using cutout construction paper fish with paperclips, straw poles with strings and magnets. Reading Games offers up a similar alphabet fishing game, created very similar only instead of fish use a magnetic letter set and make lotto type letter cards.

This book has been a great find that we enjoyed a while back during a particularly rainy week. We had hours of crafting fun and now have hours of game playing to enjoy. There are 14 game ideas in the book including a alphabet fishing game, creating picture word stories, silly sentence books and much more. All geared to help with letter identification, phonics, building concentration skills, building awareness of written language and interpretation of information.

Let the games and learning begin!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Top Five Fridays - Beatrix Potter

Well as my favorite season, Fall is approaching, I thought I'd share a top five of one of my favorite childhood authors, Beatrix Potter. Pictured above is the book: Beatrix Potter: The Complete Tales. I can't remember my age but I do remember saving up to buy this book! Charming tales of animals, accompanied by equally charming watercolors are Potter's signature. There are even DVDs out now of these enchanting tales.

I would recommend age 5 and older for the original version for most of these classic tales as they are longer with a slower moving in plot. My oldest is just now able to sit through almost all these tales. The Tale of Peter Rabbit, The Story of Miss Moppet and The Tale of Tom Kitten are shorter and good to start with. There are many picture books that have been adapted from these classic tales for younger kids to enjoy as well. There are also the Appley Dapply's Nursery Rhymes and Cecily Parsley's Nursery Rhymes, also written and illustrated by Beatrix Potter, that are fun to read/recite to the youngest of children. I would highly recommend introducing your children to these characters early. While we have the complete tales in one book, I still like getting the smaller scale books from the library. They are just the right size for little hands!

To explore more of the world of Beatrix Potter, check out this link. Here are the top five tales I read over and over again as a child:

1. The Tale of Peter Rabbit

2. The Tailor of Gloucester

3. The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle

4. The Tale of Tom Kitten

5. The Tale of Two Bad Mice

What are your favorite Beatrix Potter stories?

And have a wonderful Holiday weekend!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

September Classic Book -Corduroy

Well, we were the fortunate recipients of a wonderful gift book recently. My dear Aunt and Uncle gave us Corduroy, by Don Freeman. I loved this classic book as a child and thought it would make a lovely feature for September's classic book. Freeman has wrote and illustrated several Corduroy stories some in collaboration with others. They are all wonderful adventures of friendship, curiosity and learning. In the first book of this series readers are first introduced to Corduroy, a little stuffed bear on the toy shelf at a department store. Corduroy goes unnoticed by most shoppers until one day a little girl named Lisa spots him and their adventures begin. Both Corduroy and Lisa find what they have been looking for, a friend. And even better we the readers do too!