Monthly Archives: November 2010

The Odd Egg


This book is, without question, one of the most precious children’s books that I have seen published as of late. From the playful characters to the soft, enchanting illustrations, the essence of childhood has finally been captured on paper. Author and illustrator Emily Gravett, has such a distinct style to both her witty writing and unique illustrations that before even flipping back the cover, I knew I was in for a treat.

Readers are welcomed into the characters’ community as we meet each of the members. Although all birds, they range from being a chicken, to being an owl, to being a flamingo, and more. We learn that each of these birds has laid an egg which they are eagerly awaiting to hatch. Duck, on the other hand, has no egg to speak of. What to do, what to do! By beautifully manipulating the size and space on the page, Gravett introduces perhaps the most important character of the book: Duck’s egg. Duck has found an enormous, green spotted egg to raise.

We watch the eggs of all the other birds hatch on an interactive page that allows the child to flip over a series of flaps, revealing the different baby birds as they meet their mother one at a time. Still, there is no movement to speak of from Duck’s egg.

Will the other birds be right after all?

Or will it hatch?

And what will it be?

One picture says it all, and has children in hysterical fits of laughter as the story comes to a close.

The Odd Egg will prove to be the perfect book to bring children between the ages of 2-5 crawling up into your lap time and time again, ready to turn the pages with you, giggling with glee over their knowledge of what the following pages hold.

Fabulous Books Published in 2010: Thumb Love


Thumb Love written and illustrated by Elise Primavera is a story about a girl named Lulu who has a bad habit. Lulu loves to suck her thumb. She loves to suck her thumb everyday and everywhere she goes. Many people around Lulu do not understand why she still sucks her thumb. Her parents, grandmother, and other family members all comment on how she is too old to be sucking her thumb. She is even made fun of by other kids because of her thumb sucking. Lulu sees no problem with it until one night she has a bad dream about the consequences of thumb sucking. The next morning Lulu declares that she will stop sucking her thumb even though her thumb protested this idea. Lulu comes up with a 12-step program that anyone who is trying to stop sucking there thumb can follow. Her program also includes many tricks that you can try to dissuade you from sucking your thumb. The main thing that Lulu stresses in her program is that it is not easy to quit and you will sometimes fail, but the important thing is to keep on trying.

This book is very funny and witty. The book starts off with Lulu admitting to other people that she has a problem. It is a very clever play off of how many self-help meetings start off. The 12-step program to stop sucking your thumb is a very clever addition to the story. The author does a good job of providing advice along with humor. What I also found to be very clever about this book was the incorporation of the word bubbles. With the word bubbles she was able to bring life to thumb. The author especially did a good job of conveying the message that sometimes it is hard to accomplish your goals and sometimes you may fail, but that does not mean you stop trying. Instead you keep trying and trying until you succeed. I think that this is a wonderful message because for some kids it will be a challenge to stop doing things that sucking their thumb, and sometimes they just need some encouragement and to now that it is okay to experience some setbacks.

The illustrations were also very well done. I really liked the variation in size of the illustrations. Sometime the page just had small separate illustrations and other times the illustrations would take up the whole page. The illustrations were very cartoon like and they just really brought life to the story. The text and the illustrations were also integrated very well with one another. On some pages there would be a simple illustration bordering the text. Overall, the illustrations and the text worked very well with one another.

I think children will love this book. It is a great book for children who may be trying to kick the habit of sucking their thumb and for those children who have already kicked the habit. It is recommended for children ages 4-8. This book is very relatable and the approach the topic is done in a very child-like manner. I think that adults will also enjoy this book and even find themselves laughing at times.

Happy Reading!



Books from the Past – Miss Nelson is Missing

Viola Swamp, the strict and mean teacher who “meant business” and loaded students with homework, lives in infamy as the type of teacher students fear. Although Miss Nelson is Missing was published in 1977, it has remained a timeless classic to generations of school children and a cautionary tale about what happens when students misbehave. Author Harry Allard and illustrator by James Marshall have written spin-offs titled Miss Nelson Is Back and Miss Nelson Has a Field Day and a DVD version can also be found online.

In the original story, Miss Nelson had difficulty getting the students to behave or respect her in class, so one day she sends a substitute named Miss Viola Swamp. Miss Swamp is tough on the children and it gets so miserable that they eventually meet with a detective, Detective McSmogg, to get help finding her. Detective McSmogg declares, “I think Miss Nelson is missing.” The children hypothesize what happened to Miss Nelson and generate ideas like being eaten by a shark or traveling to the moon. When Miss Nelson finally returns, the students are ecstatic to see her and from then on are well behaved and appreciative. One of the final pictures shows Miss Nelson giggling to her self and part of Miss Swamp’s characteristic black dress and wig are visible in her closet.

This story is fun for children because they get to imagine what having a teacher like Miss

Swamp would be like. For some students, the reality of Miss Swamp comes alive when they receive a visit from Miss Swamp in person! This yearly tradition takes place in Paige’s grandmother’s classroom when her mom dresses like Viola Swamp and comes to class to interact with the children. It is definitely a fun way to get the children involved with the literature.

The book is recommended for age 4-8; however, it is a timeless story that can be revisited at any age. In fact, when Dr. Neely brought it out in class we got very excited and shouts of “I loved that book!” and “awww” could be heard throughout the classroom. As a future teacher, I especially hold it close to my heart. So to all the “Miss Nelsons” out there, thank you for your guidance and wisdom, may your classes always remember Viola Swamp and appreciate you.

Happy Reading!


Marvelous Picture Books


Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale by Mo Willems is a picture book about a little girl, Trixie, who goes on an adventure with her daddy down the block, through the park, past the school, and finally into the Laundromat. Trixie has a blast helping her daddy out in the Laundromat. As they walk back home, she realizes something terrible has happened. She no longer has Knuffle Bunny in her arms! As Trixie begins to make all sorts of sounds and noises to try to convey to her daddy the tragedy that has just occurred, her father is just absolutely clueless. They arrive home and immediately Trixie’s mother asks where Knuffle Bunny is. They run back to the Laundromat to find him and in that moment of joy, Trixie shouts her first words, KNUFFLE BUNNY!!

This picture book is not just any ordinary picture book. Mo Willems has artfully pieced together real-life photographs with his original cartoon drawings. The illustrations in this book include hand-drawn sketches and digital photographs of Brooklyn, New York. The photographs have a sepia tone and they provide the background to Mo Willems’s hand drawn ink characters, Knuffle Bunny, Trixie, and her parents. The brightly colored characters offer a visually appealing contrast to the gray scale pictures in the background. The distinction between the realistic background and the cartoon-like drawings really helps capture readers’ attention. Mo Willems also strategically uses a pale green color for all the pages behind the photographs and text which presents another contrast to the photographs. The text, photographs, and ink drawings really work together to tie the whole book together. The book cover is also beautifully made. You can see a realistic photograph in the background and the hand drawn pictures of Trixie and Knuffle Bunny are in vibrant colors. The cartoon drawings are especially shiny and smooth. It really makes the hand drawn illustrations stand out. The book jacket is in a dark green color and it gives a short summary of the book and tells us a little bit about Mo Willems and his other books. The page before the title page shows photographs of how Trixie came to be with a picture of her parents getting married and then a picture of her as a little baby and soon the adventure begins with the title page and Trixie hugging Knuffle Bunny.

This unique picture book is written for children ages 2-5. However, children and adults of all ages can most certainly enjoy this book. This book is definitely appropriate for young children. There is not a lot of text and it is a very simple but amazingly fun read with different nonsense sounds. Children of all ages would enjoy reading this book! This book is also the first of three Knuffle Bunny books. Mo Willems has written two new books since the first one: Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity and Knuffle Bunny Free: An Unexpected Diversion. Be sure to check these out as well!



Marvelous Picture Books: "The Quiet Book"


The Quiet Book written by Deborah Underwood and illustrated by Renata Liwska, is a wonderful new picture book published this year for children ages 3-6. This book illustrates the many different types of quiet that children experience. Liwska illustrates these experiences through the use of animals including bears, rabbits, porcupines, mice, owls, moose and wombats in different situations where they are quiet. These types of quiet include “making a wish quiet,” and “best friends don’t need to talk quiet,” presenting situations that children experience in their own lives.

Liwska has drawn the animals as though they are a child’s favorite stuffed animal, so soft and gentle that you want to take them right out of the book. She uses color pencil and then digitally enhances the images to give them this soft quality.

This book is very appropriate for young children, addressing some of the difficult issues of being quiet, and showing the many times when it is okay to be quiet. The illustrations are beautifully done and extend the text by adding visual information about the different types of quiet in a way that is very calm and gentle with soft colors.

Deborah Underwood includes very little text, just one line per page as seen in the image on the left. These single lines accompanying the illustrations provide readers with repetition of the different kinds of quiet, all having similar sentence structures and simple illustrations. This repetition along with the gentle treatment of the animals is a very appealing quality for young children. Additionally, the book is very small, adding to the quiet and calm nature of the story. This is a great book for children to curl up to and hold close to them in their laps as they learn about the many different types of quiet they can experience in the world.

This is a wonderful book for read alouds, especially when trying to set a calm mood, as bedtime story, or an individual read for students who need some quiet time.

Happy Quiet Reading!

Wonderful Books from the Past: The Velveteen Rabbit


Margery William’s The Velveteen Rabbit is a timeless tale of the magic in toys. This classic tale begins with the Velveteen Rabbit appearing in the Boy’s stocking for Christmas. The Velveteen Rabbit is soon forgotten by the Boy until one night when his old china dog that he usually sleeps with can’t be found. The Velveteen Rabbit captures the heart of the Boy and become his inseparable companion. The Velveteen Rabbit had learned from the Skin Horse that toys can become Real through the love of a child. The Boy loves the child so much that the velveteen rabbit becomes what he thinks is Real. One day, the Boy catches the Scarlett Fever and must remain in bed for many days. The Velveteen Rabbit, being the faithful companion that he is, stays with the Boy through the duration of his sickness. Once the Boy is well, his doctor orders the Rabbit to be disposed of because he contained Scarlett Fever germs. The Velveteen Rabbit feels extremely lonely after he had been tossed aside with the other old toys. He begins to cry Real tears. The first tear that falls on the ground causes a magical flower to begin to grow. From this flower comes the most beautiful fairy the velveteen rabbit had ever seen. This fairy uses her magic to transform the Velveteen Rabbit into a Real rabbit that has hind legs and can jump with the other Real rabbits. The Velveteen Rabbit is overjoyed by this transformation. A couple months later, the Velveteen Rabbit is in the woods with a fellow rabbit and sees the Boy. The Boy is reminded of his beloved toy from before his sickness. The Boy will never know that this rabbit is actually his old friend.

Sometimes it’s hard to pinpoint what exactly makes you fall in love with a book. Was it the beautiful illustrations? Was it the plot twist? Was it the character development? Was it the vivid imagery? I think, for The Velveteen Rabbit, it was theme of a child’s love for their favorite toy. Growing up, it seems like everyone has that one favorite toy they can’t leave home without. For me, my “velveteen rabbit” was my big stuffed animal Eyeore. Because of his size, eyeore could not travel with me many places. But, Eyeore and I had tons of fun around the house. I especially loved his velcro tail that I could detach and reattach.

The Velveteen Rabbit pulls at the heartstrings of all the readers it encounters. The Boy’s love for the Rabbit can also be seen in both young and old children–even those children who have reached the ripe age of 99. The magic of the toy room draws children into a whole new world full of talking toys and beautiful fairies. All readers can experience the joy of this beautifully written, classic work of children’s literature.

Because of its ability to reach a wide variety of readers, The Velveteen Rabbit has often been used in many classrooms as a teaching tool. Some teachers like to use this book as a tool for assessing reading comprehension. Others utilize the book as a starting point for writing activities. For more ideas, click here.

The Velveteen Rabbit was one of my favorite books as a child and still is today. I highly encourage everyone to invest in this classic tale so that younger generations will have the opportunity to experience the magic and love of the Velveteen Rabbit.

Happy Reading!


Marvelous Picture Books: Flotsam


Flotsam is a beautifully illustrated picture book by David Wiesner. I was a little apprehensive about reading this book. I knew Professor Neely had mentioned it in class as a Caldecott Award Winner and it was also noted in our text book, so I figured I should probably take a look at it. The reason I was apprehensive about reading this book was because it has no words. What kind of book doesn’t have words? I now have the answer: Flotsam.

Flotsam begins with a young boy examining some typical land animals you would find at the beach. While playing with a crab, a huge wave comes and knocks the young boy over. When the waves recede, the young boy notices an antique camera lying on the sand. It is a Melville underwater camera. The boy brings the camera to his parents and then to the life guard, but no one knows to whom it belongs. The young boy takes out the film and runs it over to the One-Hour Photo shop to develop the pictures. And he waits, and waits, and waits. Finally he gets the pictures and runs back to the beach. The young boy is amazed by what he sees in the photographs. There is a toy fish swimming in the ocean with real fish that look exactly alike. There is a mother octopus reading a book to baby octopi and some fish while sitting on a chair in the ocean. There are sea turtles with tiny villages on their backs, aliens underwater next to sea horses, and giant star fish with islands on their backs. The most intriguing photo is of a girl holding a picture of a boy holding a picture of a girl holding a picture of more people holding more pictures. Being the smart boy that he is, the young boy grabs his microscope to use the different magnifications to see all the way to the end: a black and white photo of a boy dressed in early-1900s clothing on the beach. The boy decides then to take a picture of himself holding the continuous photograph, but falls short of completing this task when a large wave comes up to splash him from behind and scatter all the photographs. The young boy then decides to throw the camera back into the ocean. The camera travels, with the help of the sea creatures, to another beach where a little girl finds it.
As you can see from my summary, Flotsam tells a wonderful story without using any words at all. I am thoroughly impressed with Wiesner’s ability to create a fluid and intriguing story by just using pictures. Wiesner varies between double-page illustrations and smaller illustrations combined on one page, similar to that of a comic book. When Wiesner wants to tell the reader of the action the young boy is taking, he puts a sequence of illustrations together to show the action on one page. For example, the reader can see the boy going to the photography shop and waiting for the pictures all on one page as opposed to dragging that scene out page, by page, by page. Wiesner also puts the illustrations of the photographs from the underwater camera on a black background so the reader knows that these are different from the other illustrations in the story. The size, length, and shape of the illustration boxes are all different which keeps the reader engaged.
The illustrations are done in a style that makes them very realistic, even though the illustrations are of some nonrealistic scenarios. The illustrations make you believe that these ridiculous scenarios of giant star fish walking around with islands on their back are actually real.
What a beautiful and imaginative book this is for all ages!

If you are looking for a picture book with no words, this is your book. If you are looking for something that takes your breath away, this is your book. If you are looking for something that makes you say “whoa” approximately ten times throughout the course of reading, this is your book. I cannot recommend this book highly enough!
Happy Reading!