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We Made You Out of Love

  • Posted on May 28, 2012 at 6:04 PM

We Made You Out of Love: The Answer to the Number One Question on Every Child’s Mind: “Where Did I Come From?”  written by Dr. Greg Marconi & Michael Marconi. www.FlyingMarconiBros.com

Twenty-one years ago when I was expecting #2 son, doctors told us to use anatomically correct words in explaining where babies come from. For two year old #1 son, that meant when others would ask if he was excited about the baby growing in his mommy’s tummy, he’d reply “Actually, the baby is growing in her uterus. Your stomach is where food goes.”

Today, parents can use this book to explain where babies come from. Written for children the authors suggest are too young to be burdened with technical terms and too many details about the facts of life, this book does actually state that the baby grew in mommy’s tummy. One tiny detail that doesn’t prevent me from liking this title greatly.

The authors have managed to take a controversial subject and treat it with enough distracting humor and various facts that  parents can decide how much additional information they choose to provide. This title will become a standard for all public library collections and preschool-1 collections.

I watched as a parent shared this with her second and fifth grader. They were intently listening, laughing along, and looking at the illustrations. They wanted to hear the story again and to look at the pictures themselves. They particularly loved the illustrations because they were digitally familiar, like in a videogame. See this one below:

SPOILER ALERT!

The fifth grader did laugh and ask, “Wait a minute! Does that mean you are making babies everytime you stand close to the daddy?”” The second grader said, “Of course not, there has to be some of that yucky stuff, too, like kissing.”

Fortunately for their mom, they were still laughing over all the funny ideas Jeffrey had as possibilities for where he came from, and they were distracted.

I enjoyed this story because it was heartwarming and loving. Two parents talking to their young son about making him from love and acknowledging that he is the best thing they ever made to become a family. This was sweet, yet not too icky-sweet.

Visit their website flyingmarconibros.com to see a video with the authors explaining their choices in creating this story.

I’m happy to see at least one book about making babies that won’t be challenged by parents or staff.

Board Books – A Color Game for Chester Raccoon

  • Posted on May 20, 2012 at 6:04 PM

A Color Game for Chester Raccoon Written by Audrey Penn. Illustrated by Barbara L. Gibson. Tanglewood Publishing, May 2012. Board book, 14 pages, Ages 1-3, $7.95 ISBN: 978-1-933718-58-3. Guided reading level: G; Grade level: 1; Reading Recovery level: 11-12

A Color Game for Chester Raccoon by Audrey Penn takes our friend Chester once again down to the board book level with this title focusing on colors found in a forest. Most board books that focus on color are simplified with one large colored item or several same colored items for each page. Not so here. In A Color Game for Chester Raccoon, the reader must use observation skills to identify colors within the forest. There are not too many colors on the page to make this difficult, but to those children just guessing by pointing at objects, this will be more challenging. I can see this helping parents prepare preschoolers.

The first page has Chester Raccoon gleefully pointing out a bird with white feathers. Astute children may notice that the background of this and all following pages is white. Since some of the bird’s feathers are other colors, there are opportunities for calling forth more vocabulary. The bird has black feathers with white spots and striped brown and tan feathers, also. While the author focuses on white, blue, yellow, orange, brown, black, and red, sharp parents will point out a color present on each page that isn’t identified – a pale forest GREEN.

I like this title because it encourages observation and suggests parents help children make color identification a game. Learning to play with a child is not always instinctive so this is an excellent choice for new parents. I can’t wait to take this north to Michigan for my new step-daughters’ baby shower. Since she’s having a boy, I am having a wonderful time choosing board book titles that I can’t wait to share with you. I think I could get the hand on being a grandma. I’m not even worried about them calling me anything other than grandma. I like it!

There is a moment of the kissing hand being given to both Chester and Ronny Raccoon. I love The Kissing Hand, and others in this series: A Pocketful of Kisses, A Kiss Goodbye, Chester Raccoon and the Big Bad Bully, Chester Raccoon and the Acorn Full of Memories, and the board book A Bedtime Kiss for Chester Raccoon. I am still waiting for an adapted version of The Kissing Hand for babies in board book format. I have used the stickers from The Kissing Hand and created my own stickers for kindergarten class’ storytime early in the year. For some of my students, simple affection like a heart-shaped sticker in their hand or a quick-politically-correct-one-arm-hug may be the most they receive in a day.

I was thinking about this recently while kissing wounded elbows and toes of my other new grandchildren. Just how many body parts do parents kiss while they are teaching? Fingers, chin, eyes, nose, cheeks, knees, elbows and toes? Perhaps we could produce the new parents guide to boo-boo’s and owies? Next, I’d like to buy the Chester Raccoon puppet to help in storytime. I hope that Audrey Penn continues to help Chester Raccoon face life as he grows.


Spring books

  • Posted on May 1, 2012 at 2:28 AM

Springtime and Easter present challenges. Most librarians have spent their book budgets, yet students get spring-book-fever and want new titles. What should you add to your list?

10 Hungry Rabbits: Counting & Color Concepts by Anita Lobel. Alfred A. Knopf, 2012. ISBN: 978-0-375-86864-1. $9.99.

10 Easter Egg Hunters: a holiday counting book by Janet Schulman; illustrated by Linda Davick. Alfred A. Knopf, 2011. ISBN 978-0-375-86787-3. $8.99.

Home for a Bunny (A Little Golden Book) by Margaret Wise Brown; illustrated by Garth Williams. Random House Little Golden Books Classic, 1989. ISBN: 978-0-307-93009-5. $3.99.

The Bunny’s Night-Light: A Glow-in-the-Dark Search by Geoffrey Hayes. Random House, 2012. $11.99, 32 page. ISBN 9780375869266.

10 Hungry Rabbits. I’ve been a fan of Anita Lobel’s since she illustrated Princess Furball and spoke at a literature symposium in Illinois in the early 90’s. When I saw 10 Hungry Rabbits, I knew there would be little artistic touches added to each page. While not as elaborate as the flowers in Allison’s Zinnia or as amazing as her recent paintings of flowers in gouache on rice paper, Anita Lobel creates and hides beautiful flowers throughout the scenes of 10 Hungry Rabbits. She correlates colors of vegetables with the colors of each rabbits clothes while she counts vegetables. The most unusual food item is the page with ten black peppercorns. I’m glad I keep peppercorns on hand for grinding to show to students.

This idea for creating flannelboards to tell the tale of 10 Hungry Rabbits is perfect for spring storytime.
http://storytime.readingchick.com/?p=2079 I am a big fan of Reading Chick’s flannelboard blog posts. Here is a photo from her take on this tale.

Kirkus reviews notes the details in their review of 10 Hungry Rabbits, too.

There is an interesting tie-in between these two counting books. Anita Lobel dedicates her book to Janet Schulman “fine author, excellent editor, and very good friend. With love always.”

Janet Schulman’s rhymes in 10 Easter Egg Hunters are what caused this title to be added to my list. While I may not be a big fan of creepy teeth kids in the Linda Davick illustrations, I did find many hidden treasures (and eggs) in the photos. I can imagine reading this to a small group, possibly 2-4 students and having them find eggs in the illustration that are not referenced by the words until later on in the story. When students become accustomed to facts and details being strained out so they only focus on the “correct” image or answer, it can be disconcerting to be exposed to the larger picture throughout the book and having to focus oneself.

Home for a Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown; illustrated by Garth Williams remains one of the classic Little Golden Books. For tiny toddlers, looking for a bunny home under a rock, under a stone, under a log, or under the ground becomes a chant throughout this tale. Garth Williams sweet bunnies will always remind me of spring. He created such happy animals that the reader couldn’t help but feel happy for spring.

As for the book, The Bunny’s Night-Light: A Glow-in-the-Dark Search, I think Angie Mangino nailed this title with her review at the City Book Review at http://citybookreview.com/2012/04/the-bunnys-night-light-a-glow-in-the-dark-search/. The publisher description isn’t as sweet.

“When Little Bunny can’t sleep because “there’s too much dark at night,” it’s up to Papa to find just the right night-light for his little bunny. The pair go for a walk around the woods and Papa points out the possibilities. Perhaps the moon is the ideal night-light? Or maybe the fireflies will be able to help? Or even the little glowworm? Featuring luminescent nighttime illustrations that glow in the dark, and a comforting text, this bedtime story will resonate with little bunnies and their parents.”

This was the last of a group of titles I picked up because my first impression was that it was just a gimmicky book of glow in the dark pictures. I was sooooo wrong! This is truly a reassuring bedtime story that is perfect for daddies to read to their little ones. The illustrations have the perfect balance of sweetness with variations in expression that will keep little ones looking at pictures again and again. The wording is perfectly paced with gentle rhythm and repetition.

I first read the story in the daytime and was very satisfied. Later at night I pulled out my flashlight to watch the pages glow around the edges and with aspects of night that naturally have light. As PaPa tries to find the perfect light to reassure Bunny, Bunny easily points out the flaws in each suggestion. At the same time, Bunny is opening his eyes to the night objects that glow or produce light. This will help toddlers realize that the night is not all dark.

The Bunny’s Night-Light is such a charmer that I have to take it with me to Michigan to show #3 grandchild while we wait the arrival of #4. I am prepared for the necessity of producing a nightlight after reading and anticipate shopping for a three year old. Will he want a bunny light or perhaps some type of monster truck light? Perhaps the glow in the dark objects will be a better gift to accompany this story. Whatever we follow up with, I am most anticipating that sweet moment of cuddling and reading. We’ll reach the end when Papa and Mama say Good Night and then we’ll go back to read it again.

Hopefully you are taking note of these titles to add to your collection so you’ll be ready next year when the bunny season arrives. Good luck.

Spring Board Books

  • Posted on April 28, 2012 at 3:49 PM

While I appreciate so many of my friends and colleagues getting pregnant just so I can prepare board book baskets for them, I’m always struggling to find new titles that are just right. Betsy Bird pointed out that board books must be good “Cause when you read something 500 times, you’re either going to go insane or you’ll internalize it to the point where it’s the most fascinating thing you’ve ever read.”

Here are a trio of titles for spring board books:

In the Garden by Elizabeth Spurr illustrated by Manelle Oliphant – a board book. Peachtree Publishers, 2012. ISBN: 978-1-56145-581-2 $6.95

The Fuzzy Duckling (a Golden baby book) – a board book. Jane Werner Watson; illustrated by Alice and Martin Provensen. Random House Golden Books, 2012. ISBN 978-0-307-92966-2. $ 6.99.

Duck & Goose Here Comes the Easter Bunny! by Tad Hills – a board book. Schwartz & Wade, 2012. ISBN 978-0-375-7280-8. $6.99.

In the Garden takes the concept of a young boy planting a garden and waiting for his plants to grow. It takes great cleverness to be able to write only two words on a page, yet create a rhyming book that can be read over and over. To read In the Garden, a parent might race through each page quickly to hear the rhyme, then return to read and savor each pastel-colored illustration. Words like shade and earth may take more parent vocabulary to describe, but as I read, I found myself adding many words the second and third time through to point out parts. I would pause to count the sprouts, compare whether something was in the shade or the sun, ask questions like “Why did the boy shout?” and basically take the time to strengthen observation when reading.

Parents who are nature-conscious will love this title, as will budding scientist families. I’d place it in the basket of any of my STEM teacher colleagues. Hmmm. I hope Cara Wade isn’t reading this so she’ll be surprised to open her baby basket with In the Garden, seeds to plant, and fake safe plants.

Here is the publisher’s description of In the Garden:

Simple and evocative language and charming illustrations describe a boy’s experience in the garden. In this gently rhyming board book, a young boy creates a garden, one small action at a time. First he digs in the dirt and plants seeds, then he adds soil, water, and some patience. With time, the seeds grow and the boy excitedly discovers what he has helped to make. Along the way, readers learn the words for simple objects related to the garden and nature. Elizabeth Spurr and Manelle Oliphant together create a perfect sit-in-your-lap reading experience for toddlers.

The Fuzzy Duckling remains a favorite Little Golden book so I was happy to see this become a Golden Baby board book this year. I tried it out with my preschool grandson and he loved it. We began reading together, and I was thrilled when he began anticipating and chiming in “but they would NOT”. The unusual part of reading this book is how every child I read it to stops me before the end and wants to count the animals. I have never made it through completely to the end without having to count at least one page. It seems that as soon as the number pattern becomes clear, young preschoolers want to embrace the number concept.

My favorite part of this book remains the sweet, soft illustrations by Caldecott winning illustrators Alice and Martin Provensen. Academically, I was able to introduce the concept of adjectives without using that word while reading. It helped foster an appreciation of the way we describe animals in The Fuzzy Duckling. For example, we have eight hungry pigs, seven playful puppies, six lively lambs, etc. Here’s an opportunity for parents to build essential vocabulary while having fun.

Duck & Goose Here Comes the Easter Bunny! is part of the Duck & Goose series by Tad Hills. While I love Duck & Goose, I sometimes have an OCD moment. For example, the title is Duck & Goose, but the illustration on the front cover shows Goose on the left and Duck on the right. I want their word placement to match their picture placement. Still, when I look in Tad Hills eyes, I start to swoon and forget what my complaint was. Most of the other books in the series have them in the “correct” order.

Duck & Goose Here Comes the Easter Bunny has the glittery feel of raised letters on the front cover. I wish there could be more pages with tactile. This title takes more thinking time for babies to discover that things happen around them like the Easter Bunny’s arriving and leaving behind large eggs. There are opportunities to discuss possible hiding places and the features that make them bad places. I’m going to save this title to put in a basket for baby bird lovers and those families that watch the birds at the park. There are so many cute, cuddly, cloth dolls of birds to include in the basket.

Somehow when putting Duck & Goose titles in a basket, How Rocket Learned to Read pops up and asks to go along each time. Tad Hills titles make wonderful picture book and board book gifts.

Green by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

  • Posted on March 16, 2012 at 12:08 AM

I am LOVING the book Green by Laura Vaccaro Seeger. I have tried it out with students in PreK, K, and 1st grade classes this week. I’ve tried it with a variety of other titles to expand our thinking and comparison skills. No matter what I do, students who are calm at the beginning of our reading, are practically jumping up and down by the end. It seems I’m losing total control of my storytime-ish class just by putting this creative and artistically beautiful title in front of their eyes. They love it.

Storytime starts so sweetly when I show them the cover and have them guess the title. I cannot help the fact that the beautiful splash strokes of green paint invite my touch and that the word green is raised above the page. I cannot help myself stroking this book lovingly as I open to share it.

There are so many different types of greens and Laura Vaccaro Seeger enables the reader to interact and appreciate each one.  Students are relaxed as I show them the first green – forest green. Then when I turn the page and display sea green, they sit up on their heels and lean forward in wonder. Since some of the students have noticed there are cut-outs in the pages, I flip back and acknowledge that they must be looking at the entire picture, and the cutouts, and be predicting what those cutouts will become as we turn each page. Immediately they start to chat about this and call out suggestions as we turn further.

When we reach khakhi green and find a chameleon hidden in the page, I begin to lose control of the crowd. These students have never heard of an animal that changes its colors to blend and we have to spend some time with how wonderful this world is.

I start to believe I’m going to recover the class when I turn to faded green and they tip their heads to think about how colors fade. But then I swiftly lose all control again when we come to the pages of never green and no green. Their interest burns back to feverishly high levels and by the time I hit the last page with CIP data, they cannot control their bursting into applause.

There aren’t many words to this title, but visually this book speaks to my students. Green sparks their minds to consider colors in new ways. All colors. After reading, I ask if we should contact the author and ask her to please make more books celebrating colors. Of course the answer is a shouted,  “YES!” When I ask what color, I am very careful to practice what I preach (in the blog on the Little Black Book) and I embrace all answers. Laura, I hope you don’t mind, but my students are demanding you get right back to the paints and start making more books.

When I commented on how long it takes to make books, one of the first grade classes said, “We could help paint colors, too.” Yes, my darling students, you can paint and play with colors. You can seek new combinations. You can try cutting out shapes and sections and planning the design of your art to interrelate. And thanks to the joyous celebration of all types of green in this title, you can embrace different shades that all are “green.”

Laura, we love this book. I asked my students for comments to send you. Here are some of their words:

  • I love it. Tell her it’s a really good book.
  • Tell her I like green too and maybe now other people will like green and even eat their peas.
  • It’s so pretty and I just want to touch it.
  • Tell her to make some more for me like orange. (Should I mention the University of Tennessee’s colors are orange?)
  • Tell her I want to know how she made the cover cause it looks like its wet and I was afraid to touch it. But  I love it and maybe she could come by our class on Wednesdays and show us how to make it, too.

While I hold my breath for Laura’s call to say, “Sure, I’ll pop in and love on the colors with you,” I’ll have to find other ways to extend our learning. Perhaps we’ll visit the publishers’ page and show the book trailer.

The only problem I see now is how my assistant is going to pry Green out of my fingers so I can donate it to the library collection. I am like everyone who touches this book. I want to scurry in to the corner, happily turn each page and trace each brushstroke, and never set it down. I have had to rescue this title as would-be shoplifters try to sneak it out even when they KNOW I’m sharing it with another class. I wonder how many copies I will need or if my teachers will share this with each other. I’ll let you know how it turns out. Have you seen Green yet?

Board books 1 Great, 1 okay

  • Posted on March 11, 2012 at 2:44 PM

Recently I was packing up new baby care packages and decided to add two board books. While I did this, I realized that one of these board books was okay and would be held by a child, tossed around, chewed upon, and fall apart to be tossed away (and, no, I’m not telling).  The other board book was special. It has gone on my list of books to give any family with a new baby.  Take a look at this list on GoodReads and think about what’s on your top 10 list of gifts to give at a baby shower. Of course, Pat the Bunny comes to mind, but what am I adding to the keeper list? Little Black Book by Renee Khatami.

Little Black Book by Renee Khatami. Randam House, 2011. 978-0-375-87235-8 $8.99 Publisher’s description: Black is the new black in this darkly tantalizing touch-and-feel extravaganza for the senses! Now babies can enjoy this daring color in a novelty board book chock-full of gorgeous, full-color photographs. There are textures to touch, a flap surprise, and the scratch ‘n’ sniff scent of sweet licorice that you can almost taste!

I absolutely love this little book. It is disarming. You hold the front cover and don’t anticipate the pleasure you will get from opening the book. The front cover does mention the Little Black Book is meant to: touch and feel, scratch and sniff, and lift the flap. The first page begins “black is… the soft fur on my big pet bunny.”

Aha! A Pat the Bunny moment. Not the little white bunny here, no, this is a photograph of a beautiful black bunny with soft touchable fur meant to stroke. You continue on to discover a sparkling night sky, a magician’s hat, a bat, smelly licorice, smooth velvet for dress-up, and even a funny cat mask with touchable whiskers.

Why do I love this title so much? The photographs are beautiful, clear, and joyful, plus the celebration of all things black redeems those who love the color black best of all. (Here’s to you, #1 son!) Black is beautiful and embraced in these 14 pages.

If you visit an early childhood classroom and ask students their favorite color, you’ll notice teachers encourage students to name blue, green, purple, red, yellow, and orange. Teachers actively discourage students from naming black, white, brown, tan, and grey. It’s as if there is a list of acceptable colors and a list of those other colors that exist. Do you have a color bias? When my oldest son was picking items to decorate his bedroom at 5 years old, he consistently chose black because it was his favorite color. To this day, he still has black sheets and black blankets. He isn’t goth. He just loves black.

In fact, now that I think about it, I believe I need to go back and purchase a copy of this book for my school library for any color units to support preschool and kindergarten. I may have sent my publisher’s review copy to my new step-granddaughter, but I know I will be buying many more copies as gifts for friends. Schools and public libraries could use this title as it transcends the format.

Easter Engines – a Thomas and Friends Step into Reading 2 with a Giveaway

  • Posted on February 26, 2012 at 2:50 PM

Easter Engines – a Thomas & Friends Step into Reading 2. New preschoolers and kindergartners relate to trains and to Thomas the Tank Engine. For students who may have never had an adult read to them, finding Thomas & Friends books in their school library gives them something to relate.

How many of you have had students request “a train” book week after week? You usually run out of titles very quickly. I prefer to purchase copies of the early reading titles like the Step into Reading series. One new title I’ve received is Easter Engines which falls at Step 2. Step 2 titles are for reading with help for preschool through first grade. These have basic vocabulary sight words, short sentences, and simple stories. New words can be sounded out with help.

Easter Engines deals with Thomas cheerfully helping out by collecting a huge Easter Egg, even though it means he goes from leading a parade to being the very last train in the parade. When Sir Topham Hatt opens the egg, they find Easter baskets for all the children.

Random House Children’s Books is launching an all-new website for their hugely popular Thomas & Friends brand.

The new website  http://www.randomhouse.com/kids/thomas is the new home for all of their Thomas & Friends titles.

The new site allows readers to easily search for their favorite type of Thomas title, including hardcover, Paperback, Board Book, E book, Coloring & Activity, Novelty, Step Into Reading, Little Golden Book or Movie / DVD tie-in.

Other new features include a rich library of Thomas & Friends printables, a video section with trailers of the Thomas movies, and a “What’s New” page that allows readers to quickly discover the latest Thomas titles.

Here in Practically Paradise, we are hosting a Thomas & Friends giveaway in celebration of the new site. We’ll give away one title to six different winners. To enter simply email me at dianerchen at gmail dot com. Here is a selection of Random House’s  most recent Thomas titles:

Easter Engines (Step into Reading) Thomas is rolling down the Easter rails in this step 2 leveled reader that will introduce children to reading—and the exciting world of Thomas & Friends! (Mentioned above)

Making Tracks! (Activity Book) Help the engines of Sodor be really useful by fixing tracks with Thomas, making deliveries with Harold, and much, much more. With three chunky double-sided crayons, a die-cut handle, and sturdy write-on/wipe-off pages, this interactive board book is a must-have for little boys ages 3-7 who love Thomas & Friends.

Misty Island Rescue (Golden Book) In the new direct-to-DVD movie Misty Island Rescue, the engines of Sodor are building a new Search and Rescue Center—and finding Thomas the Tank Engine is their first rescue mission! Boys, ages three to six, will enjoy this handsome jacketed-hardcover storybook, which captures all of the fun, mystery, and thrills of Thomas’ newest adventure.

Search and Rescue! (Novelty) Special deliveries, railway repairs, and daring rescues—it’s all in a day’s work for Thomas the Tank Engine, and this 8×8 storybook with flaps lets little boys ages 3-7 join in the adventures.

Off the Rails! (Coloring and Activity Book) Thomas is rolling full speed ahead and off the page in this new coloring and activity book! Little boys ages 3-7 will come face to face with their favorite Thomas & Friends characters as they color the 3-D images and then view them with a pair of 3-D glasses.

Day of the Diesels (Little Golden Book) The devious diesels of Sodor are up to no good, and Thomas must set things right! The successful Thomas & Friends movie Day of the Diesels is retold in the classic Little Golden Book format that young boys ages 2-5 will love.

Be sure to check out this month’s I Can Read Feast which is being hosted & compiled at Katie Ahearn’s Secrets & Sharing Soda blog http://sharingsoda.blogspot.com

Watching a preschooler with their first Pop-Up book: Lots of Bots! A Counting pop-up book

  • Posted on December 4, 2011 at 6:38 PM

Do you remember your favorite popup books from childhood? My grandparents gave me a version of Hansel and Gretel before my grandfather died and I can recall opening and closing the page with the witch and the oven door. I remember wearing out that book until finally letting it go. Instead of hoarding my pop-up books at school, I willingly share them with students and hope that I help them gain that sense of wonder that reading a pop-up book can bring.

There is always a risk when sharing pop-up books, so please forgive me David A. Carter and Noelle Carter, but I shared LOTS OF BOTS! A Counting Pop-Up Book with my friend’s son Noah

this weekend. I tried to snap some photos as he helped me unwrap the book and opened the first page, but he couldn’t hold still. We read and explored the book, re-read to catch all the words, and re-read for over two hours. Noah carried this book with him throughout the house, into the backyard to read it to the dogs while he sat in the swing, to the garage where friend Steve worked as a carpenter (while pointing out the carpenter bots), to the driveway where Ken changed oil in the car, and finally to his chair where he collapsed with exhaustion. When his mother came to pick him up, Noah clutched his book to his chest to make sure no one took it away.

Unfortunately Noah did dismantle three little parts of the book (including the propeller from this picture), but his mother kept telling him she’d glue the pieces back on. He loved watching that propeller spin.

There are several interesting blog posts and video trailers including Trailer Tuesday by Miss Mary Liberry and Random House’s youtube video. If you pause at the page of toothbrushing bots at 18 seconds into the RH trailer, you’ll see these adorable bots brushing the teeth. Noah was so entranced he put his mouth by the pages to see if they’d brush his teeth. Only one casualty resulted from that and he DID learn that we don’t eat books or put our mouth germs on books. Instead I  told him the story of the Gingerbread Man and he shared my gingerbread cookie that my Secret Santa gave me.

I knew our reading together was a success when he asked his if he could bring his own book back next time to read.

Random House Children’s Books released the companion app Bot Garage for iPad, IPhone and iPod, but there was no droid app so I couldn’t play Bot Garage with Noah. Instead I had to rely on the reviews from several of my adult friends who enjoy creating their own bots. For only $0.99 I was poised to purchase. I read the SLJ review which wasn’t as positive, but I still wonder when the droid version comes out so I can try it out with Noah. Or maybe someone would like to send me an iPad to try out all their apps in that format (hint, hint!).

David A. Carter has created  many pop-up books and I’ve been enjoying them without realizing how many were available. I’ve been a huge fan of his Jingle Bugs and Bugs in a Box sets. Now I am determined to build a complete collection of David A. Carter pop-up books.

Of course I couldn’t blog about pop-up books without mentioning Robert Sabuda,  a master of the modern pop-up books. I appreciate his links to explore pop-up books and can’t wait to share these activities with students.

I wonder who else produces pop-up books that you must have. Share, share! It is the season to give and don’t popup books make the best gifts for young and old?!

Baby Shower? Board Books!

  • Posted on November 30, 2011 at 8:32 PM

I love baby showers just so I can happily share some of the board books that come my way. Tomorrow in the library we will host a baby shower for a teacher. (Don’t ALL parties occur in the library, seriously?!) I asked my friends Krys and Sandra to design a cake so I could focus on the serious choosing of the board books.

Let’s see. The baby’s room is navy and chocolate colored with a sports theme. Hmm? I don’t have any board books with sports as their theme. Looks like the cake will have to cover that aspect.

How else can I tie in? Mommy-to-be is a numeracy coach, so how about counting board books? Duck & Goose 123 may fit. Aha! I have Duck & Goose It’s Time for Christmas! to pair with it by the wonderful Tad Hills.

Maybe I miss something but the reviewers talk about Duck doing the right thing and focusing on getting the tree decorated for Christmas, but I spent the entire time rooting for Goose to continue enjoying the snow by sledding, making a snowgoose, building forts, skating, etc.

Every time I’d read aloud Duck’s saying “It’s not time for … (catching snowflakes, etc.)” I’d whisper “Yes, it is! Go, Goose, Go!” Wouldn’t you want me to read subversively to your darling babies? I make a wonderful babysitter. Duck & Goose It’s Time for Christmas! appeals to me because the cover is so tactilely fascinating, but mainly

I love it because I can go to the Castlemere website and order Duck & Goose dolls. I wonder if the newly opened independent bookstore in Nashville called Parnassus carries these. I must go check this weekend. <sigh> the extra research I conduct going to bookstores for the sake of my students and colleagues <end sigh>

Back to connecting babies with our school…. Our PBL theme is The Circle of Life and we are studying animals so how about the new board book Grandma Calls Me Gigglepie by J. D. Lester and Hiroe Nakata. Swinging, swift moving rhyming couplets take us through this homage to animal behavior and grandparent love so rapidly, that we MUST go back and re-read over and over again. In part to savor the happy feelings of being accepted and in part to discuss each animal’s name and behavioral characterists.

For those of you who think I am too intellectually focused with the babies, I encourage you to watch TV’s Bones as she prepares to become a parent and is already excitedly planning their first frog dissection together. I have been accused of behaving too Bones like recently, but I dismiss that as purely subjective rationalization by others not focused on the facts.

Hmm? If we are looking at loving relationships, we must check out A Bedtime Kiss for Chester Raccoon by Audrey Penn and illustrated by Barbara L. Gibson. The back cover mentions this is “A Kissing Hand book for bedtime”, but I view it as an opportunity to discuss nocturnal animal behavior and the viewpoint of a nocturnal animal’s perception of the afternoon sun. Would you consider these daydreams or nightmares? Actually it is not scary, but comically provides the chance for young children to be braver than Chester. Although, if I had been read this book as a young child, I would have added reasons to my arsenal of “Why I should not have to take a nap?”

This title joins my list of favorites from publisher Tanglewood Press. My Dog, My Cat would make a lovely baby gift. Ashfall (featured in SLJ this month) makes a lovely teen title. I’ve got to keep watching this publisher. Are you?

Back to the board books, I can’t forget to include a Clacker title so I’ll tuck in Clackers Black Cat illustrated by Luana Rinaldo.  There are more words in this book and we can model P-R-E-D-I-C-T-I-N-G, an essential skill to be taught from the cradle. Thank goodness the politicians haven’t mandated testing of parents reading to their child skills yet!

Black Cat includes sound effects for parent and baby to make. I prefer those sound effects instead of holding the book by the handle and shaking it to make it “clack.” Something about using a book for musical effect upsets the literary purist in me, but as long as I can make sound effects a different way, I’ll overlook playing with the book.

Any good future baby mathematician must include art in their repertoire so let’s throw in Artsy Babies Wear Paint by Michelle Sinclair Colman and Little blue and little yellow by Leo Lionni.

Artsy Babies Wear Paint seems to appeal to adults more than children, but I’m going to have to test this on a few babies to be sure. This is part of the Urban Babies Wear Black books. Author Michelle Sinclair Colman has many titles to appeal to a wide variety of parents. Another favorite of mine is her Eco Babies Wear Green title. Unfortunately I gave this away earlier at a conference while presenting nonfiction and ways to introduce informational text from cribs to college.

little blue and little yellow is a must for my board book baby basket. Celebrating it’s 50th birthday, this title is released as a board book. I’m a huge Leo Lionni fan and after having re-read this, I wonder if there is an interactive or e-book title of this for my kindle, nook, ipad apps, etc. Wouldn’t this be a wonderfully interactive title if we could move little blue and little yellow through their story? Has anyone created this yet? I’ll be watching so I can share such an app with baby’s mother as soon as possible.

Did you know that Random House has provided activity pages on their tribute page to 100 Years of Leo Lionni? Go check it out http://www.randomhouse.com/kids/lionni/activities.php

I’m going to have to stop here for this basket because it’s bulging. I have so many more board books to share. Choosing among them is difficult. What would you add?

Your Mommy Was Just Like You

  • Posted on May 8, 2011 at 8:00 AM

Grandparents love to tell their grandchildren all the good and really bad stuff about their children. Why? Maybe it’s revenge for all those nights when their child woke them up to say “Mommy, I feel sick” and then vomited all over them.

Or maybe its for these lines in the book Your Mommy Was Just Like You by Kelly Bennett and illustrated by David Walker:

Your mommy is my baby.
And no matter how big she gets,
or how old she gets,
she will always be my baby.

Bennett’s narrator is the grandmother who shares the secrets of her daughter’s childhood with her granddaughter. This is a wonderful story for grandparents to read to their grandchildren. It will help spark dialogue on a more meaningful level. And it will make a fun storytime. The illustrations are simple and big so you can easily show them to larger preK groups. I think I’d keep this in the preschool area primarily to the phrasing “I’d bandage her scrapes and give her extra lovies.”

Lovies? I think my mother gave us extra kisses on our booboo’s and owies. No matter this one phrase, this title remains a sweet celebration of families and childhood. The author has a companion title from 2010 called Your Daddy Was Just Like You which I think is a necessary purchase if you missed it last year.

Being a blogger means sometimes I receive publicity information about titles and authors. Kelly Bennett’s Your Mommy Was Just Like You is one example. The publicist shared “Q & A with Kelly Bennett” with me and I loved getting the inside picture on her writing process. Here’s a sample question:

Tell us about your writing process. When and where do you like to write, and do you spend time each day writing? Do you believe in outlining?

I don’t write everyday. But everyday I do something writing-related, whether it’s reading, dreaming stories, critiquing other writers, or taking care of writing business. I don’t outline. I find I lose energy for a story if I tell it to anyone or solve all the problems. I brainstorm stories in bed, last thing at night and first thing in the morning. When I’m ready to write, I work on the computer because my handwriting is horrible and my hand gets tired easily. Good thing I’m a fast typist.

I saw by the author information that Kelly Bennett has written a picture book about Dance Halls called Dance, Y’all, Dance and I immediately thought of my colleague Mary Gavlik who loves contra dancing (which I’ve still never seen in my life). Mary shared this info on facebook and I think it so wonderfully expresses why dancing is important to so many people and books like Dance, Y’all, Dance need to be in our collections:

I enjoy contra dancing because it’s a place where time stands still. I can dance for hours & it seems like a minute. It’s a place where I can turn off my brain and just relax. Contra dancing, like no other activity, compels me to live in the present.

On Mother’s Day, I miss my grandmother and wish I could be close enough to my mother Sue Lynne Ekren Ritts to show her how much I love her. I’d bake her breakfast (my favorite cinnamon coffee cake) and make her coffee. But she’d most likely beat me to the kitchen because I inevitably forget an silly ingredient like baking soda or salt. I’d make sure she had her beautiful corsage to wear to church and I’d give her lots of hugs. You see, I will always be my mommy’s baby, too, and I love her.

Other reviews of Your Mommy Was Just Like You can be found below: