Monthly Archives: September 2011

Picture Books From the Past- Corduroy


Corduroy by Don Freeman has been a well-loved story by children for many, many years. I remember my own mother reading it to me when I was in preschool and have heard it read to children at the preschool I currently work in many times over the past year.

Corduroy is a teddy bear in a big department store. He wears green corduroy overalls, but is missing a button. Therefore, he is often passed over by children looking to buy toys. One day, a little girl walks by with her mother and asks to buy him, but her mother says, “not today.” She comes back the next day to purchase him with her own money saved in her piggy bank, carries him home, sews a new button on his overalls, and gives him his very own bed next to her own. Corduroy is delighted to finally have a home and a true friend.

The illustrations in this book are warm and peaceful. They are watercolor based, use pastel colors, and use a variety of line-based patterns for texture. Here is a preview of the book.

This story describes very nicely the special relationship so many children have with a favorite stuffed animal. Told from the bear’s perspective, children see how important it is to treat their toys nicely. It can also be a source of comfort for children if they are traveling somewhere new. As long as they have their special stuffed toy, they have a friend with them and are not alone.

I hope you and your young reader(s) will enjoy this story as much I have over the years!


A few extra links you may enjoy:

· Here is a read aloud of the story

· If you just can’t get enough of Corduroy, there are many other books based on this loveable bear! Click here for a preview of A Pocket for Corduroy by Don Freeman.

· Corduroy can be used in the classroom as a starting point for many different activities and discussions such as shopping, money, sewing, and friendship. Below are some resources teachers may find helpful in planning:

coloring page some lesson ideas

Art and Max by David Wiesner

Looking for a marvelous picture book? Look no further!                                                 
David Wiesner, three-time Caldecott award winner for Tuesday, The Thee Pigs and Flotsum, once again delights children with his picture book, Art and Max
“…a thought-provoking exploration of the creative process…Funny, clever, full of revelations to those who look carefully this title represents picture-book making at its best.” School Library Journal, starred review
The book tells the story of two lizard friends who both enjoy painting. Art is an old pro; Max is just a beginner. When Max misunderstands Art’s instruction to “paint him,” chaos ensues. Max starts to actually paint his friend! Furious, Art’s painted scales then crack off, revealing pastel dust. After the colored pastels blow away, Art is filled in with water colors, which run after he drinks some water. Finally, all that is left of Art is a line drawing. As Art stomps off in a huff, Max grabs his friend, undoing the drawing until he is just a mess of scribbles on the floor. Luckily, Max is able to “reconstruct” his friend, and make him even better than before!
Recommended for ages 4-8, children will love the bright colors, full page spreads, stunning detail and easy to follow story. It would make a good discussion book in the classroom for the topics of art and different media,  the importance of trying new things and friendship. This is the perfect book to share before starting a new art project in the classroom and teachers or parents may like to include computer work by including the online activity, found here, in their lesson.
A video of David Wiesner talking about his book.

I loved looking through and reading this book, and have no doubt that you will enjoy reading and sharing this book just as much. So what are you waiting for…

Happy Reading!

New Book: Slightly Invisible featuring Charlie and Lola by Lauren Child


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“I have this little sister, Lola.

She is small and very funny.

She always wants to know what

I am up to, and she always

wants to do what I am doing.

She NEVER wants to be

anywhere without me.”

Charlie and Marv want to have adventures on their own. They are fed up with Lola interrupting their imaginary play. They want to catch the most STRANGE and terrifyingly tricky creature. Therefore they create an “invisibility potion” made from pink milk, a tiny drop of banana, and a secret INVISIBLE INGREDIENT. While Marv and Charlie sail twice around the world, they leave the potion in the fridge, allowing Lola and Soren Lorensen to drink it. They return from the trip for a snack only to realize that the potion had already been drunk. Lola had a small sip but Soren Lorensen had mUcH moRe. From this point on, Soren is “hidden” on each page. Finding Soren Lorensen becomes a fun and interactive activity, keeping the child engaged throughout the rest of the book. At this point, Charlie and Marv look to Lola and Soren Lorensen to help them find the most STRANGE and terrifyingly tricky creature.

The adventures of Soren Lorensen, Lola, Charlie, and Marv are enhanced through the unique illustration style and moving text. Lauren Child uses a combination of real and @font-face { font-family: “Cambria”; }@font-face { font-family: “Handwriting – Dakota”; }p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal { margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-size: 12pt; font-family: “Times New Roman”; }div.Section1 { page: Section1; }drawn pictures through out the book. On one page this could include using different patterns to create the background and object cut outs in the foreground,

while on the next it could be the opposite. Along with the images the text is inserted in a moving format. The reader may actually have to move the book in order to follow the storyline. While this may be frustrating to an adult reader, it adds to the adventurous spirits of Charlie and Lola.

This book appeals to children ages 3-7 through the use of imaginative play, sibling relationships, and visual stimulation. Charlie and Lola came to life in 2001 through Lauren Child’s first book of this series, I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato and Slightly Invisible is her latest edition to this series. It later became a TV series in over 20 countries, maintaining the integrity of Lauren Child’s artistic works and stories.

❤ Joy Harris and Deirdre Hartnett

Carol Otis Hurst’s FIRST picture book! Rocks In His Head


“Some people collect stamps. Other people collect coins. My father collects rocks.”

This book is based on the true life story of the author Carol Otis Hurst’s father. Ever since he was a child, Carol’s father has been passionate about rocks. He has a constantly growing collection displayed in his house, and always has a couple rocks sitting in his pocket. Although people often keep collections of various things, no one thinks his collection is worth anything, and that his hobby was a waste of time. People always tell him, “You’ve got rocks in your head!”

However, all of them are proven wrong when his knowledge and passion for rocks earns him a job during the Great Depression working at the Science museum. Slowly but surely, Carol’s father works his way up to becoming the curator of mineralogy.

This book sends a great message about staying true to oneself, and doing things that make you happy. As Carol Otis Hurst states, “Anyone who has ever felt a little out of step with the world will identify with this true story of a man who followed his heart and his passion.” Rocks in His Head is a fantastic read for children around age 5 and up. It is a well-written text intertwining history (The Great Depression) with an intriguing true story and positive life messages. Additionally, the unique, sketch-like illustrations (by James Stevenson) on every page give the reader lots of room to use their imagination and fill in the details. If you are looking for a fun, lighthearted read than Rocks in his Head is your perfect book!

Picture Book From the Past: "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" by Eric Carle


Written in 1969, The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle is a classic picture book from many of our childhoods. With colorful illustrations that are sure to engage young children of all ages, Carle describes a story about the metamorphosis of a caterpillar who eats his way through the days of the week and transforms into a beautiful butterfly. On Monday, he ate one apple, on Tuesday he ate two pears, on Wednesday he ate three plumbs, and each of the days following he ate one more piece of fruit than the day before. No matter how much fruit he ate, the very hungry caterpillar was still hungry…until Saturday.

“On Saturday he ate through one piece of chocolate cake, one ice-cream cone, one pickle, one slice of Swiss cheese, one slice of salami, one lollipop, one piece of cherry pie, one sausage, one cupcake, and one slice of watermelon. That night he had a stomachache!”

The caterpillar was finally ready for his transformation. After making himself a cocoon and staying there for two weeks, the very hungry caterpillar emerged, no longer hungry and no longer a caterpillar. He was now…

a beautiful butterfly.

This seemingly simple picture book is a phenomenal educational story, incorporating the days of the week, numbers, and the stages of a butterfly’s life. This book provides a great foundation for the lessons that all children will learn throughout their early education. We both have vivid memories of the caterpillar unit in elementary school in which we learned about the same cycle of transformation that Carle describes in this book. Having read The Very Hungry Caterpillar, we already had a basic understanding of the life of a caterpillar.

Click here to listen to and view The Very Hungry Caterpillar

-Olivia Steinberg and Alex Rogers

Marvelous Picture Books: Joseph Had a Little Overcoat


Simms Taback’s Joseph Had A Little Overcoat tells the story of a resourceful man who alters and reuses his tattered and worn overcoat. Through the clever use of dye cuts, Taback allows children to share in Joseph’s experience as his overcoat becomes a jacket and then a vest and finally a button. Taback’s message to readers is that “you can always make something out of nothing.”

Taback’s story is enriched by its Caldecott Medal-winning illustrations. Beginning with the endpapers, Taback collages bright photographs with illustrations, creating a patchwork of fabrics. On every page there is a playful mix of photography and illustration. No single drawing is one color, but rather, each picture is decorated with many textures and patterns. Every character has distinguishable features and characteristics carefully chosen by Taback. Minute, easy to miss details infuse this story with a sense of warmth and tradition. We share in the familial and congregational love of an old European Jewish community complete with a Yiddish newspaper, Menorah, and didactic wall hangings.

Joseph Had a Little Overcoat was adapted from Taback’s favorite childhood song, “I Had a Little Overcoat.” This love for the song is apparent in the warmth he creates within his story. Joseph Had a Little Overcoat is a wonderful story for children of all ages about the importance of making due with what we have and finding satisfaction with our lives. Children and adults alike will treasure Taback’s use of color, texture, and die cut techniques to enrich the story with a playful spirit.

To see an animated video of Joseph Had a Little Overcoat click here.

Tell Me Something Happy Before I Go to Sleep


A child’s first experience with literature generally occurs at bedtime. So why not read them a story about going to bed? Tell Me Something Happy Before I Go to Sleep, written by Joyce Dunbar, is a great bedtime story. A young bunny, Willa, is really tired and wants to go to sleep, but is unable to fall asleep for fear of having a bad dream. After tossing and turning she seeks advice from her older brother, Willoughby, who suggests, “Think of something happy, then you wont have a bad dream.” Willa tries to take her brother’s advice, alas she cannot think of something happy. Willa once again turns to her older brother for advice, “Tell me something happy before I go to sleep.” Willoughby takes his sister through their house showing her many happy things, such as: her rooster slippers, the breakfast that they will share in the morning, and her basket of toys. Willa finally becomes tired and ready for sleep. The story ends with the following exchange:

“And when the morning comes and wakes me up, will you still be here?” asked Willa.

“I’ll still be here,” said Willoughby,

“Good,” said Willa. “That’s the happiest thing of all.”

This is a fantastic bedtime story for young children because the actions of the characters in the story parallel their own. It also highlights the bond that siblings share and the love that they have for one another. Lastly, it gives the child something happy before he or she goes to sleep.

Picture Books From The Past: The Little Engine That Could


The Little Engine That Could is a very famous children’s story that first appeared as far back as 1906. This version, written under the pen name of Watty Piper and illustrated by George & Dorris Hauman, was published in 1930. For more information on the different editions of the story, and the history of its origins, you can visit the penguin group’s website for the book.

The story begins with a train filled with toys and good food for the little boys and girls who live on the opposite side of the mountain. When the train breaks down, all the toys on board fear that the children will not get their toys or good treats before sunrise! Many trains pass by, but all refuse to pull the broken down train over the mountain. Finally, a Little Blue Engine comes by, and the toys all ask for help. Even though the Little Blue Engine wants to help the toys get to all the good boys and girls on the other side of the mountain, she doesn’t know if she can.

“I’m not very big,” said the Little Blue Engine. “I have never been over the mountain.”

Ultimately, the Little Blue Engine decides to help, and she tells herself that she can do it the entire way over the mountain, and she succeeds. This book is the perfect lesson in optimism and trying your best. It is written for readers of all ages, and it is perfect for kids just learning to read on their own. The watercolor illustrations in the 1930 edition are timeless, and the message of the story is one that is valuable for children of any age.

To watch me reading The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper, click on the video below:

I hope you love this picture book from the past!

A Second is a Hiccup by Hazel Hutchins Illustrated by Kady Macdonald Denton


A Second is a Hiccup by Hazel Hutchins introduces children to units of time in a playful and child-friendly manner. Hutchins goes through each unit of time from the second all the way to the year relating each measure to childhood experiences. For example, Hutchins says of the minute, “if you sing just one small song/Chorus, verses, not too long/That’s just enough to fill/A minute.” The story proceeds in a question and answer format allowing children to focus on the particular measure and also invites them to relay their own conceptions of time.

Hutchins utilizes rhyme within each line of her story. Rhyme adds a sing-song quality to the text and captures the child’s attention. In order to preserve the rhyming style, Hutchins places only a few words on each line of text. This formatting is more appropriate for young audiences. Additionally, text is placed in different locations on each page, which helps to add a playful quality to the story. Colorful pictures further add to the warm and inviting feel. On many pages, several different illustrations are shown, each displaying children in various settings which sends the message that all children, regardless of background have the same system of time.

One of our favorite parts of this story is that it both begins and ends with the message that every second of every year, children are loved by their parents. Many illustrations depict children interacting with their parents or caregivers further reinforcing this message. We hope that families can share in this story’s message and enjoy the time they spend together.

To preview this book, click here.

Wonderful Books from the Past: Madeline and the Bad Hat


“In an old house in Paris
That was covered with vines
Lived twelve little girls
In two straight lines.”

Madeline. These words have been familiar to me since I was a child. Madeline and the Bad Hat by Ludwig Bemelmans is a classic that will always delight children everywhere! In this book in the series, a surprise is in store for Madeline and the other girls when the Spanish Ambassador moves in next door. Will his little boy, Pepito, be a new friend? Madeline knows trouble as soon as she sees it. “It is evident that this little boy is a Bad Hat!” she tells Miss Clavel. Pepito is a naughty, mischievous troublemaker. Will he ever learn his lesson? Children will find out as they enjoy this story and Bemelmans’ colorful artistry.