Monday, November 29, 2010

Brand-New Baby Blues by Kathi Appelt

Being the one and only was great. Now that there's a baby brother, too, a little girl is sure she has the brand-new baby blues. This new brother doesn't do much except use her stuff and take up her parents' time. But she reaches a very grown-up decision--once the baby's not a baby and just a brother, she'll like him fine.

What I thought: A great book about new babies and sibling rivalry. This book definitely fills a need. The story was lyrical. You could almost sing it. I especially liked the chorus/refrain that was repeated throughout. It really made the story feel like a blues song. The illustrations are good--colorful yet soft (hardly any lines).

Story Time Themes: Siblings, Babies

(Illus. Kelly Murphy. Harper, 2010)

Friday, November 26, 2010

No by Claudia Rueda

Winter is coming, but Little Bear doesn't want to hibernate. He tells his mother so with a resounding "No!" For every objection, he has a ready answer. Even when he gives in to winter and hibernation, he makes it his idea, not his mother's.

What I thought: What a cute book! Little Bear could give some kids competition. Have you ever met a kid like him? Well, I have. Rueda has captured children's attitudes exactly. This will be a fun book to share in story time. I'll ask the kids what they would say to their mothers! The illustrations aer just beautiful. I love the uncomplicated color scheme and the softness of the illustrations. My favorite illustration is Little Bear building a snowman.

Story Time Themes: Bears, Winter, Mothers

(Groundwood, 2009, Trans. 2010)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to all my faithful readers! I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with family, friends, fun, and food. (How's that for alliteration?)

As today is a holiday, there won't be a Beatrix Potter Reading Project Post. I'll be back on Thursday, December 2 discussing The Tale of Timmy Tiptoes. You'll find an update on the project here.

I'm going to share my favorite Thanksgiving Book with you. It's Run, Turkey, Run! by Diane Mayr (Illustrated by Laura Rader, Walker Books, 2007). This is a great story time book because the kids can help you say "Run, turkey, run!" I also like the optimistic ending. The turkey's still running. We don't know if he gets caught, but I like to think he doesn't.

Again, Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Fluffy & Baron by Laura Rankin

Fluffy is a duck. Baron is a German Shepherd. Despite the difference in their species, these two are fast friends until the day some wild ducks land in the pond. Baron is quite despondent when Fluffy deserts him for several days. He's soon happy again when Fluffy presents him with nine new ducklings to befriend.

What I thought: What a charming story about friendship. Baron and Fluffy are unlikely friends, but the bonds of friendship often know no bounds. The illustrations are wonderful. I especially like seeing the seasons change.

Story Time Themes: Friendship, Dogs, Ducks

(Dial, 2006)

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Littlest Owl by Caroline Pitcher

Four owls are born in a willow tree. The fourth is the smallest of all. He doesn't grow as fast as the others or fly as soon. But when he must, he finds that he can, indeed, fly.

What I thought: I can't resist a book about owls and this was a good one. I'm an underdog champion and Four is definitely the underdog in this story. I like his determination despite his handicaps. The illustrations are lovely--the owls look so soft and fluffy that I almost petted the page.

Story Time Theme: Owls

(Illus. Tina MacNaughton. Scholastic, 2008)

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Chicken Thief by Beatrice Rodriguez

When Fox steals a hen one morning, Bear, Rabbit, and Rooster expect the worst. They chase that sly fox across the ocean only to find they were mistaken in his intentions.

What I Thought: What a wonderful book. The illustrations are so detailed that you don't miss words. The pictures tell the story quite clearly. I can't wait to use this with some of my smaller story time groups and hear the kids tell the story. I have quite a few favorite illustrations: Fox running off with Hen, Fox and Hen playing chess, Hen in shades, and finally, Fox and Hen bidding farewell to their friends. This unlikely love story will pair well with Woof: A Love Story by Weeks. The Chicken Thief is unexpected Valentine fare.

Story Time Themes: Love, Valentine's Day

(Enchanted Lion Books, 2010)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Tale of Mrs. Tittlemouse by Beatrix Potter

First published 1910
59 pages, 28 color illustrations

Mrs. Thomasina Tittlemouse (you might recall her from The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies) keeps a very tidy house. She's quite proud of the fact. But one day, even the tidiest of mice can't keep a house clean with a multitude of visitors parading through.

The History Behind the Tale (Linder 205-207):
The other creatures that appear in The Tale of Mrs. Tittlemouse were quite familiar to Beatrix Potter. She'd been drawing bugs, beetles, toads, and the like since she was in her teens. The story of Mrs. Tittlemouse was a gift for Harold Warne's daughter Nellie. The published book is dedicated to Nellie. As always, Beatrix took meticulous care with the text and the small changes she executed made all the difference. Beatrix felt The Tale of Mrs. Tittlemouse would appeal to girls.

My thoughts: Such a neat little mouse certainly does appeal as a character. Little girls who often pick up brooms and dusters to "help" mother will find a kindred spirit in Mrs. Thomasina Tittlemouse. The story is quaint and charming as are the illustrations.

Favorite Illustrations: Mrs. Tittlemouse (8), Mrs. Tittlemouse tossing a spider out the window (20), Miss Butterfly (44), Mouse party (57)

-Mrs. T's House Mouse Relay (have the kids run a relay in which they sweep, dust, pick up, etc.)
-I'm drawing a blank this week. Readers, do you have any suggestions?

Favorite Words: bundled, ponderously

I hope you've enjoyed my discussion of The Tale of Mrs. Tittlemouse. Next Thursday, I'll be discussing The Tale of Timmy Tiptoes. If you've missed any of the posts, you can find them indexed here.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Hush: An Irish Princess' Tale by Donna Jo Napoli

Melkora is not your average teenage girl. She's a princess of medieval Ireland. Fleeing from Vikings, Melkora's life changes drastically. Disguises as peasants, she and her sister Brigid are kidnapped by slavers. On the slave ship, Melkora finds she doesn't have anything left but her silence. Her self imposed muteness give her some power. She isn't as abused as the others. Can Melkora survive enslavement? Will she ever find her way back home?

What I Thought: I'm a huge fan of Napoli's fairy tale retellings. With Hush, she's done something completely, utterly different. She hasn't used a traditional, well known fairy tale, but the mere mention of a woman in a folk saga. As much as I like fairy tale retellings, I'm glad Napoli used a new (to me & I'm sure others) tale, This book was riveting. I couldn't put it down and read it in one sitting. I was completely engrosses in the story, anxious to know Melkora's fate. I've always appreciated that Napoli's retellings don't gloss over the harsher elements in the original tales. Melkora could never be a Disney Princess. Her story is not one of happily ever after, but resignation and making the best of a situation. And I loved it. I only hope that fans of the Disney Princesses will grow up to appreciate stories like Melkora's.

(Atheneum, 2007)

Monday, November 15, 2010

It's Raining Cupcakes by Lisa Schroeder

Twelve year old Isabel wants to travel more than anything. As she's never been out of Oregon, she envies her Aunt Christy who is a flight attendant. While Isabel dreams of traveling, her mother is opening a cupcake shop. Before she knows it, baking presents Isabel with the chance to travel. But can she survive summer--the opening of the shop, her mom's up and down moods, her best friend away at camp?

What I thought: This was an okay book. I liked the idea of the story, but I wasn't thrilled with Isabel's mom's drama. It's sad when a twelve year old knows how to deal with her mom's moods (and she has a lot of them). Isabel and Sophie have a great relationship. I also liked all the other supporting characters. They added an eclectic realism to the book. The cover hints at a fun, frothy confection of a book suitable for older Fancy Nancy/Pinkalicious fans. While that holds true for the most part, I still have reservation about Isabel's mom. It's Raining Cupcakes is worth reading, but it's not one of my favorites.

(Scholastic, 2010)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Welcome to the Zoo by Alison Jay

Follow one family as they tour the zoo. Look closely to see all the animals and their antics. Start all over again to make sure you don't miss a minute of the day out at the zoo.

What I thought: A wordless picture book about a visit to the zoo--I love it! The illustrations are so detailed and appealing. I had to go through several times to catch all the action. This would be a good book for story time. The kids can help me "read" it. Welcome to the Zoo is also a great book to use one-on-one. It takes time to see all the action.

Story Time Themes: Zoo, Animal emphasis Baby Sit & Sign

(Dial, 2008)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Gobble Gobble Crash by Julie Stiegemeyer

It was a quiet night on the farm until some wild turkeys gobbled and crashed their way into every animal on the place. When the farmer wakes, he promises himself a turkey dinner. Oh no! As noisy and clumsy as the turkeys are, the farm animals don't want them eaten. They hide those turkeys right. Farmer can't believe his eyes. Not a turkey in sight.

What I thought: Such a funny book! I laughed all the way through it. The turkeys' antics and the other animals' responses are wonderful. This book paired with one of Doreen Cronin's would make a guaranteed hilarious fun story time. The counting will keep kids engaged in the story. The illustrations were good. They set the perfect mood for the story. My favorite character is Mrs. Maggie Mouse.

Story Time Themes: Farm Animals, Turkeys/Thanksgiving, Numbers

(Subtitle: A Barnyard Counting Bash. Illus. Valeri Gorbachev. Dutton, 2008)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Ladybug Girl & Bumblebee Boy by David Soman & Jacky Davis

Lulu (AKA Ladybug Girl) is headed to the playground. Once there, her friend Sam disagrees about what they should play. Finally, Sam becomes Bubmblebee Boy and together he and Ladybug Girl conquer the villains of the playground.

What I thought: What a charming book! I can't believe I missed the first book. Lulu is such a great little girl. I love her imagination and inventiveness. The exaggeration (e.g., "cracks [...] as big as canyons") she adds to the story is great. I loved the illustrations. Lulu, Sam, and Bingo are wonderfully drawn. (I've always wanted a Basset Hound. Bingo is a great name for one.) My favorite illustrations are the squirrel, Lulu, and Sam with Bingo after saving him and Bingo with wings. I love the issues this book addresses--disagreements, compromise, friendship, and imagination. I can't wait to read the other Ladybug Girl books.

Story Time Themes: Friendship, Imagination

(Dial, 2009)

Friday, November 5, 2010

Sergio Makes a Splash! by Edel Rodriguez

Sergio loves water--puddles, rain, baths, name it and Sergio loves it. Except, that is, the ocean. You see, Sergio can't swim. Can he learn and be an unconditional water lover?

What I thought: A cute book. The story is good--most kids will enjoy the tale of a penguin who loves water but can't swim. This would be a good book for those kids just learning to swim. They might have the same fears as Sergio. The illustrations were very nice. I liked the limited color palette. The blue and yellow/orange really pop when paired with black and white.

Story Time Themes: Penguins, Swimming

(Little, Brown, & Co., 2008)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies by Beatrix Potter

First published 1909
60 pages, 28 color illustrations

Benjamin Bunny and Flopsy Rabbit marry and have quite a family of six little bunnies. Their children are known as the Flopsy Bunnies. One day in Mr. McGregor's garden, the bunnies find themselves in quite a predictament.

The History Behind the Tale (Linder 195-196):
The history of the creation of The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies is scant. It is, of course, a sequel to Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny. Beatrix Potter likely wrote it as she knew it would appeal to her readers to hear again about familiar characters. The illustrations are set in Wales. It is interesting to note that the illustrations for Peter Rabbit, Benjamin Bunny, and Flopsy Bunnies were all set in different locales.

Miniature Letters (Linder 85-86):
Mrs. Flopsy Bunny to Miss Moller (a reader)
Benjamin Bunny to Miss Moller
[the Flopsy Bunnies Christmas Greetings...]
Mrs. Flopsy Bunny to Master John Hough
1st Flopsy Bunny to Master John Hough
2nd Flopsy Bunny to Master John Hough
3rd (Miss)Flopsy Bunny to Master John Hough
4th (Miss)Flopsy Bunny to Master John Hough
scribbles & kisses from 5th (Miss) Flopsy Bunny and the same from 6th Master Flopsy Bunny

My thoughts: A cute tale. I liked meeting old and new characters in this story. I hope to see Thomasina Tittlemouse again. Flopsy and Benjamin have a fine family. Will we see them again, I wonder?

Favorite Illustrations: Flopsy Bunnies (8), Mr. McGregor putting bunnies in bag (31), Bunnies at the window (48), Mrs. Tittlemouse in her Christmas cloak (58)

-Sleeping Bunnies Game (several children pretend to be sleeping bunnies. One child attempts to wake them up. Whoever wakes up is the next waker-upper)
-Sack Race

Favorite Words:

I hope you have enjoyed my discussion of The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies. Next week, I'll be skipping Ginger and Pickles as I'm still trying to locate a copy. We'll move on to The Tale of Mrs. Tittlemouse.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Roly Poly Pangolin by Anna Dewdney

Roly Poly the Pangolin doesn't like new things. In fact, they frighten him easily. However, once he has a friend, Roly Poly finds that the world is not so scary, after all.

What I thought: What a cute book. The illustrations are wonderful--soft and so realistic. My favorite is of the two pangolins and the monkey dancing. The story is a good one for small children (who can also be timid). The rhyme and rhythm of the words will enchant and engage all listeners. I enjoyed meeting a new animal I'd never heard of. Pangolins sure are cute. The note about them makes me want to know more. Roly Poly reminded me of A. A. Milne's Piglet.

Story Time Themes: Endangered Animals, Friendship

(Viking, 2010)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

Year 7 at Hogwarts
First published 2007
759 pages, 36 chapters + epilogue
# on Top 100 YA Novels Poll (Adele of Persnickety Snark)

Harry's last year at Hogwarts really isn't. He, Ron, & Hermione set off to find and destroy the last of Voldemort's horcruxes in an attempt to render Voldemort powerless and mortal.

Memorable Moments: the wedding, Kreacher's change of attitude, the epilogue

Scenes for the movie: Well, I'm hoping all the scenes I liked make the movie, but I'll have to wait and see.

Reading Reflection: This book was tough to read. Not only is it the last book in the series, but there are difficult situations all the way through it. I liked the ending. Like most fans, I was seriously expecting Rowling to kill Harry off. It seemed like the only way to overcome Voldemort permanently. The Epilogue is nice. I can't wait to see what they do with it in the movie. Three years after reading the last book for the first time, I am still looking for the next Harry Potter. Nothing has quite lived up to the world Rowling created.

Just a reminder that Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows - Part 1 premieres in theaters on Friday, November 19.

I hope you've enjoyed my reflection on the last book in the Harry Potter series. My Harry Potter Reading Project isn't quite complete. I still plan to read and discuss Quidditch Through the Ages, Fantastic Beasts, and Tales of Beedle the Bard.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Purple Kangaroo by Michael Ian Black

The narrator of this book (that's a monkey to you) is a mind reader. Using his extraordinary powers, he just knows you're thinking about a purple kangaroo. You aren't? Are you sure? You see, he's lost his best friend, a chinchilla named Sir Ernesto de Pantalones...

What I thought: Michael Ian Black doesn't disappoint with his second book for children. The Purple Kangaroo is as entertaining as Chicken Cheeks. Older children (ages 6-8) will like that the monkey addresses them personally. All readers will enjoy naming their purple kangaroos (Mine is called Bob, in case you were wondering.) I love the purple kangaroo's highly improbable adventures and his sidekick Sir Ernesto. (For those of you don't know, pantalones means pants in English,so the chinchilla's English name would Ernest of the Pants.) The illustrations are bright colored and visually appealing. I like the color scheme Brown uses. The three main characters in the story (Kangaroo, Monkey, & Ernesto) are particularly fine.

Story Time Themes: Friendship, Imagination, Animals

(Illus. Peter Brown. Simon & Schuster, 2010)