31 Days, Children's Books, Reading, Reviews

Saturday Picture Book Reading

Today was one of those days when the people in my home were a bit under the (gorgeous) weather, the weight of projects, or just the weight of a boring Saturday with no plans. Therefore, we read books. Here are the picture books we read throughout the day:

Jonathan and the Big Blue BoatJonathan and the Big Blue Boat by Philip C. Stead (We got this from the library two weeks ago and today I found my four-year-old “reading” it almost word for word to my two-year-old. It’s a favorite).

The Lady With the Ship on Her Head by Deborah Nourse Lattimore

Ordinary Amos and The Amazing Fish by Eugenie and Henry Fernandes (I never had a pet fish as a child and, thanks to this book, my children probably never will either)

Who Wants A Dragon? by James Mayhew and Lindsey Gardiner

DahliaThe Purple Coat by Amy Hest and Amy Schwartz (to be featured in another post)

Dora The Explorer: It’s Riddle Time (Note: I would be extremely pleased if my children saw a Dora the Explorer book or video at the library, turned to me and said, “Mommy, is it okay with you if we decide we actually don’t like that overly perky, condescending Dora? We much prefer reruns of The Reading Rainbow and books by Robert McCloskey. We hope you don’t mind?” But we are pretty far from that scenario at this point.

Dahlia by Barbara McClintock (I would like to live in the illustrations of this book)

Little Squirt The Fire Engine by Catherine Kenworthy

And on my own I read Wishing For Tomorrow: The Sequel to A Little Princess. It’s a fun read that dives a little deeper into the secondary characters of the original book. If it were by the original author, I’d love it. As it is, I like it pretty well. It has an interesting, 19th century girls-should-be-educated feminism slant. And it brings Miss Minchin out of the stark, a villain-is-a-villain day and age into our let’s-try-to-understand-everyone age. All that’s to say, it has a very different feel, but it’s imaginative and fun.

What did you read today?

This post is part of the 31 Days of Picture Books series. To see all the posts in the series, go here.

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31 Days, Children's Books

Our Friends Lily and Milo

Going to the Beach with Lily and MiloPauline Oud writes a series of children’s books about a little bunny named Lily and her mischievous mouse friend Milo. As soon as my daughter discovered these at our library, they became those books that she wants to pick out every time. For a while, she was upset when they were already checked out. There are six books in the series. Our favorite is Going to the Beach with Lily and Milo. What I love about these books is that they subtly teach a lesson about colors, or animals and their habitat, or something along those lines, while telling the story of these two characters whose personalities are very much like my own two children. I can totally see Ella trying to get everything together to go to the beach as Isaac unpacks it and pretends he’s already at the beach. But Isaac is two, so maybe that’s something he’ll grow out of. Or maybe Milo is really only two, as well. =) Anyway, I would be willing to bet your little ones will enjoy Lily and Milo as much as mine do. Isaac has been enjoying them from a very young age.

 

Isaac reading Lily and Milo at 8 months old

This post is part of the 31 Days of Picture Books series. For the rest of the posts in the series, go here.

31days

31 Days, Children's Books

Bing Bong Bang and Fiddle Dee Dee: A Wise Book

One of our family’s favorite quotes actually comes from a children’s picture book. And the picture book has a not so wise sounding name: Bing Bong Bang and Fiddle Dee Dee. But the quote can change your life:

“The morning is wiser than the evening.

And the light is better, too.”

Do you ever lie in bed at 3:00 a.m., worrying about something that you didn’t worry about during the day? Remind yourself that “the morning is wiser than the evening” and go to sleep. You can think about it better in the light.

Who knew children’s picture books are the best self help?

Do you have a favorite quote from a picture book? Share it in the comments!

31daysThis post is part of the 31 Days of Picture Books series. See the other posts in the series here.

And check out the other 31 Days bloggers at thenester.com.

31 Days, Children's Books

Books for Little Ballerinas

Day 2 of 31 Days of Picture Books is all about books for little ballerinas. (To read the other posts in the series, please go here.)

If you’ve been in the children’s section of a bookstore recently, you know it’s not hard to find books featuring fluffy tutus and the color pink. A current favorite with little girls is the Tallulah’s Tutu series. Then there’s the ever popular Angelina Ballerina (that little mouse has been blown way out of proportion). My four-year-old daughter Ella and I like those books, too. There are some others we love even more, though. I appreciate how most ballerina books teach an important lesson along with the tutus and toe shoes.

I had I Wear My Tutu EvI Wear My Tutu Everywhere!erywhere memorized when I was fourteen, thanks to a four-year-old sister who adored it. I re-memorized it when my daughter got her own copy at age 2. I have to admit, the words are pretty catchy. I now really appreciate the mental image it gives of a ripped tutu. When Ella asks if she can wear hers to the grocery store, I say “Remember what happened to Tilly’s tutu on the swing? Yours might rip on the shopping cart.” Works every time. However, we are not above wearing princess dresses to Publix. A few weeks ago, we did our shopping with a Disney Rapunzel riding in our race car shopping cart, replete with hair extensions (attached to a headband from The Dollar Store). I figure she’s only four once.

Harriet's RecitalMy great aunt gave me Harriet’s Recital for Christmas one year. I really related to the main character, a nervous bear-girl who is petrified of performing on stage. I especially identified with the way she said, “Oh, it was nothing” after the recital. I was just like that as a kid. Fortunately, I didn’t make any major mistakes in piano recitals until I was in high school. At that point, there was no use pretending anymore that I didn’t have a serious case of stage fright.

Susan Jeffers’s The Nutcracker is a beautiful book. I love the perspective from which she illustrates. However, I think The Story of the Nutcracker Ballet by Deborah Hautzig presents the story in an easy to understand yet more comprehensive way. The book is a great one to read before taking your little ones to see the ballet this Christmas.

Ella Bella Ballerina and CinderellaThe entire Ella Bella Ballerina series are our favorite ballerina books around here. James Mayhew does a great job of telling a story such as Cinderella from the ballet background. The illustrations combine pretty ballerinas with a very cute little girl. And Ella is such a perfect name. =)

Finally, if you as a grown up need a crash course in ballet plots, pick up Of Swans, Sugar Plums, and Satin Slippers. I wouldn’t recommend it to children under ten or twelve (most ballets are rather tragic), but it’s helped me have a fairly decent knowledge of the popular classical ballets, and the illustrations are lovely.

Do you have a ballerina book recommendation? My Little Ballerina is always eager for more, and I can’t deny that I quite enjoy all these ballerina books myself. It’s a stage in Ella’s life that I’m clutching onto while it lasts. =)

 

 

 

31 Days, Children's Books

Little Books, Lasting Memories

31daysWelcome to 31 Days of Picture Books!

I’m beginning the series with the two books that started our family’s house of books long before we were even a family. It should be no surprise that they are Little Golden Books. If you don’t have Little Golden Books from the 60s-80s in your home, get to the nearest second-hand bookstore you can find and load up. They are called golden for a reason. Although, they’re more a dull silver after 30 years…

The Store Bought Doll (Little Golden Book)When I was 1 one year old, my parents gave me The Store-Bought Doll for Christmas.  The book is by Lois Meyer and illustrated by Ruth Sanderson (famous for her version of The Twelve Dancing Princesses). It tells the story of Christina, a little girl (dressed in adorable calico) who lives on a farm with her parents and treasures her rag doll and best friend, Lucy. One day, she is given a china doll from the city. The doll is breathtakingly beautiful. Christina spends the day entranced by her new doll. But Christina soon learns that love is based on character qualities instead of appearance, even when it comes to dolls.

Looking back now, I can’t say for sure that this book is the source of my love for dolls, but I think it had something to do with my attachment to my too-many dolls from age 2 into my teens. Oh, who am I kidding, I still have most of them. How can I ever get rid of a doll after reading this book? Some of them my daughter (and son…he’s going to be a great dad one day) plays with now. However, there are two rag dolls in the attic that have been so well-loved, they are beyond playing with. One of them is named Lucy. But she’s not the only Lucy doll in our house. My daughter is 4 and she is a two-doll girl. She has others, but they are high on a closet shelf 95% of the time. However, Lucy and Christina are her constant companions. They play with her every day and sleep with her every night. And yes, she picked those names herself at age 2. Makes my heart sing.

The Boy With a DrumMy husband’s book foundation is a more well known book, The Boy With a Drum by David L. Harrison and Eloise Wilkin. It is a rhyming, sing song book of a little boy who marches off his porch one morning playing his drum. He is the Pied Piper of animals with that drum, collecting quite a parade that stretches from morning to moonlight. I’ve read this book a thousand times, and I’ve yet to read it to a child who didn’t want to read it again. That last image of the boy marching over a hill under the moon makes my mother-heart ache. It’s just a story, but I’d rest easier if that little boy ended up in his little, soft bed being tucked in by his mother.

I am becoming a collector of Eloise Wilkin books.  Her illustrations feel like home to me. My Nana and Grandaddy gave me My Goodnight Book when I was almost one, and my mom always wanted to read We Help Mommy or We Help Daddy (I wonder why? Just kidding. I encourage the reading of those books now, too!). When I see an Eloise Wilkin book in a bookstore for a good price, I snatch it up.

Which books did you read over and over as a child?

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31 Days of Picture Books

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31 Days, Children's Books

31 Days of Picture Books

I’m not very good at home decor (understatement). However, there is a blog I have followed for years that is all about decorating. I started following Nesting Place because a friend/sister-in-law who knows what she’s talking about told me The Nester’s style is perfect. Well, yes, it is. And heaven knows, I need someone to tell me what looks good when it comes to my home. Still, what sticks with me the most from reading years of the amazing insight The Nester shares has touched more than just my home (though I do have to give her credit for helping me realize I love the colors white, blue, and grey). What sticks with me about The Nester is her motto:

It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.

I say that to myself all the time these days.

The Nester is one of my favorite bloggers, so I am thrilled to join in on her 31 days series this October. For 31 days, a bunch of blogs will pick one topic (any topic, doesn’t have to be about decorating) to focus on and blog about every day. Since I can’t tell you anything about color palettes, or how to unpack from a move a little each day, or how to save up for a European vacation, I’m sticking to something I can talk about to infinity and beyond: picture books.

I cherish the time I spend reading to my children. I treasure the memories of being read to as a child. When I see my parents reading to my children, there is a throb of rightness inside of me. I don’t know why reading to a child or being read to as a child is so significant, but I know it has always been part of my love language. Picture books tie me to my childhood like no other object. The pages of certain fairy tales make me feel as if I’m looking into a room that I’ve lived and breathed in. Yes, I had (have) an overactive imagination. But, as Meg Ryan says in You’ve Got Mail, “When you read a book as a child, it becomes part of your identity in a way no other reading in your whole life does.” Yes, it’s just a quote in a movie. But I think it’s true.

31 Days of Picture Books starts tomorrow. I am looking forward to sharing some of the books that shaped my childhood and the books that are favorites of my own children. My goal is to feature books that aren’t so popular, ones that you maybe haven’t heard of. This won’t be an attempt to create a list of the best children’s books of all time. My choices will be based on those books whose words, beauty, whimsy, imagination, or awesome-fun story have grabbed my family and stuck with us. I hope you’ll enjoy diving into the world of picture books with me for this month. If you’re not into children’s books, don’t abandon me for the month of October entirely — I’ll still be posting some adult book reviews, too.

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The 31 Days of Picture Books series is under way. Check out the posts so far, and feel free to tell me about the books that transport you back to your childhood, whether you read them as a child or are reading them to your children now. I’m embracing the child that has grown but is still in me. Here’s your invitation to do the same.

All the 31 days Posts:

Day 1: Little Books, Lasting Memories

Day 2: Books for Little Ballerinas

Day 3: Bing Bong Bang and Fiddle Dee Dee: A Wise Book

Day 4: Our Friends Lily and Milo

Day 5: Saturday Picture Book Reading

Day 6: A Book to Banish My Sunday Pity Parties

Day 7: Grab Your Winter Coat Books

Day 8: Introducing Young Children to Art Through Picture Books

Day 9: Rags

Day 10: Finding Balance in the Fairy Tale Frenzy

Day 11: Pilgrims or Indians?

Day 12: Saturday Cooking: Picture Book Edition

Day 13: Brain Fry

Day 14: Apple Picking and Books for Other Major Life Events

Day 15: Permanent Marker for the Brain, Or Poetry for Children

Day 16: My Favorite Children’s Books

Day 17: Surrounding Children with Books on a Budget

Day 18: Longer Books for Little Brains

Day 19: Must Love Dog Books

Day 20: Tootle, Choo Choo and Other Literary Trains

Day 21: Monday Quote

Day 22: A New Favorite Author – Barbara McClintock

Day 23: On Letting Children Choose Booksy

Day 24: Little Ones and Sick Days

Day 25: Pinkalicious or Pinkayuckious?

Day 26: On the 26th Day…

Day 27: Your Favorite Children’s Books

Day 28: The Crazy Cat Lady

Day 29: Books For Your Tiny Ones

Day 30: Because You Said So…

Day 31: Stretching 31 Days Into Forever

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Books for Little Boys

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Children's Books, Reading, Top Ten Tuesday

Favorite Sequels: A Top Ten Tuesday Post

Today is a Top Ten Tuesday on the blog. The great bloggers at The Broke and the Bookish give book bloggers a topic to run wild with each Tuesday. I haven’t had any idea what to write on the last few topics, but I’m jumping back in with Top Ten Sequels. Actually, it will be Top 7 Sequels, because there just aren’t that many sequels worthy of the first book.You know who did not write sequels? Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, George Eliot, Mark Twain, and the list goes on and on of the great writers of classics who knew that a great book is best when it has an ending that is perfect in itself.

There are a few great writers who found a way to write great sequels. Many sequels turn into Book 2 in series (especially these days), so those count as sequels in this list as long as there is a plot that begins and ends in Book #2.

1. The sequels to Little Women: Little Men and Jo’s Boys

There are some characters you consider friends and just want more of their stories. Lousia May Alcott created those characters.

Skylark (Sarah, Plain and Tall, #2)2. Sky Lark, the sequel to Sarah, Plain and Tall

3. Prince Caspian, sequel to The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

4. Belong to Me, the sequel to Love Walked In

These are books by Marisa de Los Santos I would put in the category of “Books I really liked for some reason I can’t entirely explain.” I wouldn’t expect most people to like them, but I really enjoyed the characters and the way they developed.

5. All sequels written by Lucy Maud Montgomery

Yes, I am an unabashed fan. If you’ve already read the Anne books, try Emily or Pat. Pat is a bit of a neurotic character, but I still love her.

6. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

I think the first three books in this series are marvelous. I like all of them, but the first three are the best. Also, I think they can stand alone as fun books without the rest of the series, though I wouldn’t recommend reading them that way.

7. The House at Pooh  Corner

That’s about all I can come up with! What are your favorite sequels?

Children's Books, Everyday Life, Parenting, Reading, Reviews

August Reading, Part 1

This is a two-part post because it’s looking like I’ll have to do two August reading posts. August has yielded a bumper crop of good books so far.

I’ll post full reviews of the books I’ve read in the next few days.

Read:

Wildwood Dancing (Wildwood, #1)Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier is a retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses, but with many additions and twists. I fully enjoyed how Marillier made the fairy tale into a completely developed plot full of lifelike characters, but kept the fanciful and enchanted feel of the story. There is so much more to this story than the original fairy tale. The princesses in the real story are middle class merchant daughters in this story, and there are only five of them. The enchanted place they go to is actually a parallel world. The secrets to their futures is entrenched in one tragic day from the past. The book takes readers into Transylvania of long ago, before Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and Marillier uses original folklore and Romanian language to enhance her tale. It’s got a lot going for it! This book is a gem of a novel masquerading as a run of the mill Young Adult book. I’d give it 4.5 stars and recommend it for anyone who likes a fun and imaginative tale.

 

IslandersI finally finished Islanders by Helen Hull this month! There are many themes one could discuss in Islanders; it’s kind of Edith Wharton meets Laura Ingalls meets Kate Chopin. I think I liked it. It certainly is the handiwork of a great author, whose characters are complex and honestly portrayed, so much so that one can’t actually love them whole-heartedly. The book was a survey of womanhood in the 1850s-1920s, told through the life of Ellen Dacey. The major theme is isolation and dependence. I didn’t like it as much as Heat Lightning, but I did enjoy its perspective. More to come in the full review!

 

The Weird SistersMy favorite book of the month was The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown. I picked up this book off a random “to be shelved” cart near the children’s section at 2nd & Charles. While my children perused the Thomas and Friends and Curious George selection, I read the first chapter, and then reserved it at the library on my iPhone. It is a quirky story of three sisters. Their father is a somewhat eccentric Shakespeare professor at Barnwell College in Ohio. The sisters are different, but so very alike. The references to the reading culture of the entire family and the insights into a family of three girls sometimes made me smile. I am one of three sisters, and there are definitely similarities between the sisters in this book and my own sisters and I (however, my sisters are way more awesome than the younger two sisters in this book). If you are a hardcore Shakespeare scholar, you probably won’t like this book, but if you are a casual fan of Shakespeare and family life novels, you’ll like this one.

The nonfiction hanging out on my nightstand this month is Francis Schaeffer on the Christian Life: Countercultural Spirituality. I am a painfully slow biography reader, but I thank my book group leader for picking out this book. It has challenged me, for sure.

And…drumroll…I started pre-K homeschooling with my 4-year-old, Ella, this week. We are doing some basic letter sounds and writing, and reading a book together.photo.JPG

Right now we’re reading The Boxcar Children. Any suggestions for chapter books for a little girl with a sharp mind and sensitive heart? I’d love to hear them!

What are you reading this month?

Children's Books, Everyday Life, Parenting, Reading

Books for Little Boys

I am from an all girl family. I have two younger sisters, but no brothers. When we found out our first child was a girl, I was excited and, to be honest, rather relieved. Because what would I do with a boy? Being a mom to a little girl came pretty naturally. But then…oh, but then…I was about 85% sure about two months into my second pregnancy that I was having a boy. There were none of those signs you hear about like carrying the baby lower or higher or being sicker than last time or anything at all. The pregnancies were pretty much the same (speaking of weird signs, that one about heartburn being related to babies  who have lots of hair? It’s bogus. Both my babies had dark, thick, brown hair, and I had no heartburn whatsoever. I just had to let all two of you who care know that.).  But I was pretty sure I was having a boy. When the ultrasound confirmed it, I was very excited, but I was also a little apprehensive. How do I raise a little boy? And what’s even more daunting, what do I read to a little boy?

Just kidding, there are many parts of parenting a boy that make me feel more nervous than what books to read him. But it is something I had to figure out! So I thought I’d share what I’ve discovered so far as I read books to my son, Isaac, and watch his love of reading grow.

As a side note, my daughter really enjoys most of these books, too. Little girls like trucks! It was a revelation to me.

Farmer John's TractorI’ll be honest, I may love Farmer John’s Tractor by Sally Sutton more than my children do. It gives me a nostalgic feeling, and I don’t know why because it’s based in New Zealand and I have definitely never been there. Maybe it’s from watching all of those All Creatures Great and Small episodes with my parents when I was little that are set on Yorkshire sheep farms. Whatever the reason for my nostalgia, my kids really do love it, too. Read it on a rainy day and let your kids go out and splash in puddles on their bikes afterwards.

My Truck is Stuck!My friend recommended My Truck is Stuck to me because her two-year-old boy loved it (thanks, Jessica!). I don’t think I would have picked it up otherwise because I always gravitate more to books about people than animals (“How sad!,” some of you are thinking. It’s not a conscious decision, it’s just how I judge book covers, for some reason), but she was right, Isaac definitely loved it. In fact, we often say, “Can’t go! my truck is stuck!” when we’re playing with trucks. It’s a fun book.

Little Blue TruckWe read this book all the time. It’s one of those books that we got from the library and then bought as soon as we saw it in a store. Not only is the book beautiful and the story fun, but it teaches a great lesson about being kind to people (or trucks?) who haven’t been kind to you. It’s a keeper. The sequel, Little Blue Truck Leads the Way, has not been quite such a hit with our son, but we’ve only read it once since we got it from the library on Monday, so it may become a late blooming favorite. We’ll see.

Going to the Zoo with Lily and MiloBoth my children love the Lily and Milo books by Pauline Oud. They are fun because the illustrations give you a chance to be observant. Milo does some pretty funny things while Lily isn’t watching, like collecting friends at the zoo instead of paying any attention to the zoo animals. My daughter thinks they’re great and Isaac laughs out loud at them. He’s a laugher (no lie, he started laughing at 5 weeks and hasn’t stopped since), so maybe your kids won’t find them quite so amusing as he does, but they will probably like them. I sure do. =)

Roadwork!Roadwork is another one by Sally Sutton that Isaac loves. It kind of makes me sad because I have to admit, I verge on the tree hugger side of things (understatement), so seeing that beautiful pasture they start out on becoming a lovely highway isn’t so fun for me. But the project progression is pretty fascinating, especially to my little boy. We have gotten it from the library so many times, we really just need to buy it. But then I would be stuck reading it multiple times a day without the excuse that “we had to take it back to the library.”

The Bravest KnightThe Bravest Knight is an awesome book for boys. I really do want my son to think about being brave and chivalrous and all that. This story kind of puts a funny twist on the knight idea, though. My son is always laughing at the cat in the book. I think he may be a little young to really appreciate the story, but he sure does love it.

I’ve only scratched the surface of books I’ve discovered that my little boy loves. And I’m still discovering more. I may have to write a part two very soon. Please let me know which books the little boys you know love, too!

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Your Kids Have A Crush On You