Monthly Archives: March 2014

Sentimental Sunday: Love You Forever by Shaakira Parker

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For this Sentimental Sunday, I chose Love You Forever by Robert Munsch, illustrated by Sheila McGraw. I chose this book because there is something simple and beautiful, but powerful about the story being told. Robert Munsch manages to successfully capture the emotional relationship between a mother and her child. The story focuses on the nurture and growth of a boy from infancy to adulthood under the care and unconditional love of his parents.

        

I love this book because it is highly relatable. I remember my mom use to read this book, to  my brother and me when we were little, before we went to bed. And I am sure many people my age can look back and remember being read this book. It was and still is the perfect way to fall asleep – being reminded that you are loved no matter what.  Robert Munsch has created a timeless book that is meaningful to people of any age., whether that be first time parents or young readers. It has a meaning that can be felt by anyone.  You simply cannot read this book without getting emotional. All parents should buy this book and all teachers need to have a copy of this book in their libraries.

“I’ll love you forever
I’ll like you for always
As long as I’m living
My baby you’ll be.”

Marvelous Picturebook Monday: Eat Like a Bear

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“Eat Like a Bear,” written by April Pulley Sayre and illustrated by Steve Jenkins (whose illustrations you may recognize from the Caldecott Honor recipient “What Do You Do with a Tail Like This?”), is a charming informational picturebook about the Brown Bear. 

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With its gorgeously detailed paper collage medium and its clever involvement of the reader through questions that ask how the bear will handle the challenge that each new month brings, young nature enthusiasts are sure to be excited about this recently published book. The repetitive phrases about how the bear moves and eats food can lead to fun pantomiming for both the readers and the listeners. A great way to show what new vocabulary words like “gnaw” and “claw” mean and to keep children physically engaged throughout the book!

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However, for readers who are easily distracted or grossed out, this may not be the best choice. I will explain why from both a child development standpoint and a personal experience standpoint, since I read this book to many times to young children and their parents at our local hospital! The frequent use of questions (nearly every 2-page spread) means that any response time could lead to being off-topic. Amazon suggests that this book is for children ages 4-8. Up until around age 7, though, egocentrism is a primary mode of thinking, meaning that kids may end up relating the questions to themselves rather than the brown bear they are learning about throughout the book. I ended up in more than a few conversations about what the human children liked to eat rather than the preferences of the bear and what was going to happen next. In addition, I got more than a few “eww!” remarks and raised eyebrows from parents when the bear ate a dead bison for lunch, followed by a live squirrel as a snack. I appreciate the veracity of the information found in this book, but I’m not sure how appropriate this is for youngsters, let alone those who are more fond of the great indoors. I know I would have squirmed a little bit at that age, especially since I felt a bit weird every time I read that page as an adult!

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Regardless, it’s a fun and informative read and I’m glad to have brought it with me to read to children – I was asked to read this book more than any other of the 5 I had with me!

Emmie Arnold

 

 

Free Friday: A Corner of the Universe

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corneroftheuniverse

For this week’s Free Friday I chose a book that I read a long time ago but has stuck out in my memory. A Corner of the Universe by Ann M. Martin is a fantastic read. It is funny, intriguing, and tragic all in the same breath. In it we meet Hattie, a young girl who has lived a very different life from the rest of us. She grew up living in a small town in a boarding house run by her parents. She meets many people, all who have very different, eccentric qualities. But she was unprepared for a visitor that would change her whole perspective on life. Her uncle Adam, a 21 year old, mentally disabled man, comes to live with her grandparents and until that summer, Hattie didn’t really know anything about him. Throughout the book we see her exploring her relationship with Adam and questioning the ones that he has with his parents and sister, Hattie’s mom. At the end of the book, unfortunately, Adam kills himself and while that is horribly tragic I still think that it is a book worth reading. I would recommend it to middle school age children. It teaches important lessons about seeing past other people’s differences and getting to know someone for who they are on the inside. Our current culture is pervasive in pointing out the “other” but I believe that this book does a great job in showing that being the “other” isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It makes you unique and special and gives you the ability to share a new perspective with those around you. All in all it’s a wonderful book that deserves to be shared for years to come.

 

Tabitha Hill

Free Friday: The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs by Jon Sciezka

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Cover illustration

Cover illustration

The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs is a great example of a fractured fairytale, a classic story that’s been modified to have a new twist. This book definitely requires knowledge of the original fable, but as long as the reader has a basic understanding, they’re sure to enjoy this original take!

The writing is clever and very witty. We see a comical side to the wolf, who as it turns out, wasn’t out looking for a ham dinner. Instead he just wanted to borrow a cup of sugar to make a cake for his grandmother’s birthday! He kindly asks his neighbors, the three pigs, to borrow sugar and is met by rude responses by all three! That, coupled with unfortunate circumstances and an empty belly, lead to the wolf enjoy his 2-course boar smorgasbord. Despite eating two pigs, by the end of the story, many readers actually will feel sympathetic towards the wolf!

The illustrations are very well done and greatly add to the book. While on the macabre side, children are sure to find them amusing. Younger children who are sensitive may find certain illustrations (particularly when the pigs get eaten) a bit frightening, but for most readers Sciezka’s comical explanation of the food chain will brush their fears to the side.

The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs is a classic for children and adults. It’s humorous on multiple levels that will keep parents and children engaged, and features very clever wit. Children of all ages will love reading a familiar story from a new perspective!

A very full wolf!

A very full wolf!

Sara Darbar

Traditional Thursday: The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson

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Front cover

Front cover

The Gruffalo is a playful story of a mouse walking in the “deep dark woods” and the creatures he encounters along the way. On his way through the woods he meets many larger, scarier animals and uses his cunning to escape danger. For example, when the little mouse meets the fox, the mouse is quick to spin his tale of his friend, the Gruffalo, who has “terrible tusks, and terrible toes, with terrible teeth in his terrible jaws. He has knobbly knees and turn out toes, and a poisonous wart at the end of his nose. His eyes are orange, his tongue is black, he has purple prickles all over his back!” This description, along with the fact that the Gruffalo loves Fox for lunch, is enough to scare the fox away. Later the mouse encounters an owl, and a snake, but the same method proves successful time and time again.

At the end, the readers and the mouse are surprised when the Gruffalo turns out to be real! Once again the mouse has to be clever and smart to get of a sticky situation!

Little kids will love this book, and beg to read it over and over again. Trust me, I must have read it to my younger brother about a hundred times. To this day I have parts of the book memorized. Donaldson did an amazing job creating catchy rhymes and using repetition, which will keep little kids engaged and chanting along with the story. The illustrations are fantastically done as well. They’re imaginative and help children see Donaldon’s words come alive.

I can’t recommend this book enough. Children in preschool and lower elementary grades will love this book, and it’s truly a joy to read. It can be hard finding children books that are equally fun for children and adults, but The Gruffalo does an amazing job of keeping readers of all ages entertained.

Two pages from the book

Two pages from the book

 

Sara Darbar

Series Saturdays: I Spy

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The I Spy series is pleasing to the reader on a number of different levels: the effortless rhythm and rhyme that forms the text, the full photographs that seem to hold new things every time you look at it, and the challenge that is just hard enough without being frustrating. With all of this going on, it is no wonder that these books were scattered around every pediatrician’s, orthodontist’s, and dentist’s waiting room. It doesn’t hurt that the series is easy to pick up and put down at a moment’s notice (if the nurse calls your name, for example).

While some might argue that I Spy is not the most enriching of literature, I would counter that these books combine reading, poetry, focus, task completion, and fun. I Spy is a literary toy- supplementing the development of more useful skills, by making the intermediate steps and learning processes fun. That does not mean that I Spy belongs in the classroom, or in an academic learning environment. Classroom fun involves finding enjoyment in substantive learning materials, things that are more enriching than toys. Nevertheless, toys are important for play and development, so why not use some reading toys?

Trendy Tuesdays: The Day the Crayons Quit

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The Day the Crayons Quit, written by Drew Daywalt and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers, is a charming book that has spent some time at the top of the New York Best Sellers list. It contains a series of letters from a set of crayons to their owner, Duncan. Many of the letters involve complaints–too much work (in the case of the grey crayon), not enough work (in the case of the beige crayon), being considered a “girly” color (in the case of the pink crayon)–but a few of the crayons are content with their lives. Readers of all ages will be entertained by the unique voice of each crayon and the typical drawings that each crayon creates. After reading all the crayons’ letters, Duncan makes a complex drawing that both includes each previously listed color and addresses their complaints, a drawing that is praised by is teacher for creativity.

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This book opens up some wonderful opportunities for creative response from children. They may be asked to imagine what their crayons would complain about if they spoke, or asked to create a drawing that uses colors in different ways than usual. In addition to telling an entertaining story alongside entertaining illustrations, the book hints towards the importance and fun of creativity; a reading in class or at home may be accompanied by a brainstorming session for ways to think outside of the box. What if we colored the sun purple? What if we used our plastic sporks from lunch to make a sculpture? What if we wrote a poem in fractions?