Monday, February 28, 2011

You Can Count on Monsters

This weekend my friend showed me a fun new book she bought - You Can Count on Monsters - by Richard Evan Schwartz.  It is a book about numbers.  It goes from 1 to 100 and each number is represented by a monster.  For each number there is a factor tree that goes down to the lowest factor for the given number.

This is such a fun book to learn about numbers and factoring.  The author, Richard Evan Schwartz, is a math professor at Brown University and put this book together to help his two daughters understand prime numbers.  This book is very creative and a visual way to learn math.
The publisher's put the age range for this book as 4-8.  I know that my friend has a 4-year-old daughter and they have really enjoyed looking at this book together.  Flip through this book at a bookstore and you will find a fun way for children to visually grasp prime numbers.

Monday, February 21, 2011

There's Going to Be a Baby

A good friend of mine is pregnant with her second child.  When she and her husband told their 4-year-old daughter that she was pregnant they gave her some books - one of which was There's Going to Be a Baby by John Burningham and Helen Oxenbury.  This book is one of the best books for a big-sibling-to-be I have seen.  I wish it was around last April when we told our kids there was going to be a baby.

The illustrations are beautiful.  They are very simple but colorful and done in a fun vintage style.  In an interview Helen Oxenbury said that she was tired of doing "tired, haggard mothers" and this was her first "smart mom."  The mother does have a very smart, stylish look to her that is very endearing.

The text fits the illustrations perfectly.  It is a conversation between the mother and her young son that spans the course of the pregnancy and goes through the seasons of the year.  The little boy asks all of the questions that a young child might - will it be a boy or a girl, do we really want a baby?  And the mother wonders aloud with her son about who this baby might be - a chef, an artist, a zookeeper - a boy or girl.  The relationship between mother and son is very charming and real.  Here is an example of the text:
"Maybe when the baby grows up, it will be a chef and work in a restaurant."
"I don't think I'd eat anything that was made by the baby."

As would be expected from any book by John Burningham and Helen Oxenbury - this book is exceptional.  It is a must have for any family expecting a new baby.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Look! A Book!

The Love Bug brought us another fun book:

Look! A Book! A Zany Seek-and-Find Adventure by Bob Staake.  This book was published at the start of February of this year and is very fun.  The layout of the book alternates from a two page spread with colored backgrounds and some text, such as: "Look!  A book! A hook! A cowboy cook!"  Next to all of the descriptions (book, hook, cowboy cook) is a circle die cut that shows the picture of the item on the following two page spread.  When you turn the page it is a two page spread filled with illustrations.  You can try and find the things listed on the previous page, the items listed on that page or you can just explore on your own.  At the end of the book there are more lists of items to find throughout the book.  

This is a very fun seek-and-find book.  The illustrations are humorous, varied and colorful.   It is well suited for a younger audience to practice finding items as well because of the varied illustrations.  My kids looked at Where's Waldo before but because everything is in red and white it was difficult for them to find anything.  Because the illustrations are so fun there is something for all ages to enjoy here.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

My Friend Rabbit

A dear friend of mine introduced me to the Love Bug.  The Love Bug visits on Valentines Day and leaves a "web" of yarn.  My kids must weave their way through the web until they reach the end where they will find a surprise.  We are pretty sure that the Love Bug is a ladybug:

               The Love Bug - my 5 year old daughter

The Love Bug leaves us books.  One of the books the Love Bug left this year is My Friend Rabbit by Eric Rohmann - a Caldecott Winner from 2003. 


This picture book tells the story from the viewpoint of Mouse about his friendship with Rabbit.  It begins, 
"My friend Rabbit means well.  But whatever he does, wherever he goes, trouble follows."
Rabbit and Mouse play with their toy airplane and get in and out, and in again, of trouble.  The story is told largely through illustrations with text accompanying some of the pages.  The illustrations are detailed, bright and humorous.  The text is simple and used only where needed to add to the meaning of the illustrations.  This book is very funny and a great book for children to "read" the illustrations. 

Monday, February 14, 2011

I Like You

I Like You, written by Sandol Stoddard Warburg and illustrated by Jacqueline Chwast, is a perfect book for Valentine's Day.  The classic text captures the essence of friendship - fun, frivolity, sympathy and laughter. As I read through the book in the bookstore I thought of so many people I could give it to - my husband, best friends, my daughter's best friends.

It is a book that my three-year-old would laugh at and would make my mother smile.  Pick one up today for that friend you dance with, laugh with, cry with and play practical jokes with.  It will not disappoint.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Imaginary Garden

The Imaginary Garden, written by Andrew Larsen and illustrated by Irene Luxbacher, is a very fun, imaginative book.  Theo and her "Poppa" love to garden together.  But her Poppa has moved to an apartment building and no longer has a place to garden.  Theo suggests that they create an imaginary garden.  Out on the patio they don their gardener's hats and begin painting on a large white canvas.  Everytime Theo visits they work together to create their garden.  When Theo's grandpa has to leave town he tells her to make sure and finish the garden while he is gone.  Theo works hard to create a garden with some of her Poppa's favorite flowers. 

This is a book sure to be a favorite for a budding young artist.  It shows the painting as it grows from a stroke on the canvas to becoming a picture.  It shows a bird created first with a dot - then adding wings, beak and feet - until it is complete.  This is a very fun book where a child's imagination takes center stage.  

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

I love picture books.  I always feel a little sad when I hear parents say "My child has outgrown picture books - they read chapter books now."  I strongly believe that one should never outgrow picture books.  Although as we grow older we will add chapter books, young adult novels and Dickens' classics to our reading repertoire - picture book reading does not need to end.  There is a lot to be gained from reading not only the text on the page but the pictures as well.


One picture book that I love, and is clearly written for an older audience, is the 2008 Caldecott winner The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brain Selznick.  This is a 500 page picture book.  It tells the story of a young orphan boy named Hugo who keeps the time in an old train station.  No one knows that it is Hugo who keeps the time - it is his uncle's job - and he must remain hidden to keep the job - and thus shelter and food.   But when Hugo crosses paths with a young girl and a grumpy old man from the toy shop in the train station the mystery of a drawing from his deceased father begins to unravel.

The story goes between text and extended pages of black and white pencil drawings with incredible detail. In order to read this story both the text and pictures must be read for the complete story to come together.  Selznick's illustrations are amazing as is the way he combines the text and illustrations to create the whole.

I think this book would be great for children 8 or older and adults.  It is a fantastic picture book. But whether you pick up The Invention of Hugo Cabret or A Sick Day for Amos Magee - I hope you feel as I do.  That one is never too old for a good picture book.  

**  I went to Brian Selznick's website and saw that it is going to be made into a movie directed by Martin Scorsese and will have Ben Kingsley in it as well.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

On Meadowview Street

When we go the library there are a few general rules:

1. Only one DVD
2. You can get as many books as you can reasonably carry.

Although my children have a hard time narrowing it down to only one DVD they love to pick out their own books.  They pick books off the shelves and begin their pile - sometimes previewing their selections and other times not.  This makes going to the library very exciting for them.  Sometimes we come home with great books and other times . . . well, let's just some are not our very favorites.

One book that made it home in our stash of books is On Meadowview Street by Henry Cole.  Caroline moves to a new house - on Meadowview Street - and is disappointed to find that there is not a meadow to be found.  One day when Caroline's dad is mowing the lawn Caroline spots a flower in the middle of the lawn.  Caroline quickly works to put up four small pieces of wood with string around the flower to preserve her small meadow.  Week by week Caroline tends to her meadow until she has created a small nature preserve - filled with ponds, trees and birds.

This is a charming story of a girl who works diligently on creating a space in nature and whose influence moves beyond the confines of her own yard.  The watercolor illustrations match the tone of the text creating a story that encourages children into the outdoors.

On Meadowview Street made it home by chance the first time but now my kids grab it every time they see it at the library.

**Henry Cole's website is very fun.  It has a lot of illustrations to look at and some fun puzzles, painting, and memory games to play as well.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Jenny and the Cat Club

A recent suggestion by our librarian is the book,  Jenny and the Cat Club by Esther Averill.  Originally published  in 1944 the book was re-published in 2003.  It has 5 different stories about Jenny Linsky and the Cat Club.  Jenny is a black cat who lives in Greenwich Village with Captain Tinker.  She is a shy cat but the red scarf the Captain made for her gives her courage.  There is a cat club that meets in the yard just outside of her window that Jenny longs to be a part of but to join the club you must "do" something - and she is concerned that she can not do anything special.  The stories follow Jenny Linsky and her adventures with her cat friends through simple text and the occasional illustration.

I read this book with my kids (5 and 3) over the course of a week and they loved it!  The personification of the cats is very fun and humorous.  I think this is a great read-loud for younger children or would be a fun read for a newly confident reader.