Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!  Today I will be out enjoying the fall leaves and trick-or-treating with a flapper girl, Dragon Man and a sweet Bumblebee.  Here are two fall and/or Halloween books that we have been enjoying the past few weeks:

At our children's library, they always have a seasonal display of books, and the last time we visited, one of my children grabbed Pumpkin Pumpkin by Jeanne Titherington. This is an older book - published in 1986 - but we have loved it.  The text is very simple and aimed at a young audience.  The illustrations are beautiful and open the age range of this picture book to an older audience than the text would alone. The story and illustrations take you on a journey from a pumpkin seed to a jack-o-lantern in a very straightforward and unassuming way.

On of our favorite Halloween books is Sheep Trick or Treat by Nancy Shaw.  This book was given to my daughter by her grandmother as a Halloween gift a few years ago and has been well loved.  My four-year-old son especially thinks this book is hilarious.  It is a simple rhyming scheme with fun illustrations that tell the story of the barn yard animals dressing up and trick-or-treating for Halloween.  It is fun to see the costumes and what the different animals give out as "treats."  This is a great Halloween book for a younger audience.

Happy Halloween!!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Guyku A Year of Haiku for Boys

On our latest library trip I picked up a copy of Guyku A Year of Haiku for Boys written by Bob Raczka and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds.  We have a lot of "fancy" books at our house and this looked like a fun celebration of being a boy.  It did not disappoint.

The book is a series of haiku poems for each season of the year.  Bob Raczka writes at the end of the book why he wrote this book about haiku for guys: "Because a haiku is an observation of nature, and nature is a place where guys love to be."  One of my favorite haikus comes in the spring section -

If this puddle could
talk, I think it would tell me
to splash my sister.  

I love that haiku - my brothers would have loved to do that and I can see my son hopping on that puddle as well.  This is a very fun way to enjoy poetry with your boys.  I think haikus are very unassuming.  I read this book to my 4-year-old son and after I finished it he asked me to immediately read it again. And we did.  He really enjoyed it.  However, my husband saw the book on the table and picked it up and he LOVED it.  The haikus are very reminiscent of a type of boy childhood that my husband definitely experienced.  So while it is fun for the younger audience I think it might be even more enjoyable for older boys (or men) to laugh at the ways they enjoy(ed) nature. 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Winner of Razzle Dazzle Ruby Giveaway

Thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway!  Using an online random number generator - the winners are :
5 - The Weed Family 
 6 - Rosalyn Irene  

Email me at with your addresses to get your books!  

Friday, October 21, 2011

Award Friday - Animals of the Bible

My posting has been sparse this week because my mother is in town and we have been busy "projecting" - painting bookcases and dressers, rearranging the front room and making halloween costumes.  I get so much done when my mom is in town!

Remember to enter the giveaway for Razzle Dazzle Ruby - it ends at midnight tonight.

I have decided to start a weekly post on Fridays focusing on an award winning book.  It may be any type of award winning book - but I am going to begin by focusing on the Caldecott Medal.

The Caldecott Medal began in 1938.  In 1937, Frederic Melcher suggested they create a new award to honor the artist of the most distinguished picture book of the previous year.  It was named after Randolph Caldecott who was one of the three most influential illustrators in England in the 19th century.  If you are interested in the history of the medal you can read more here.

The first winner of this award was given to Animals of the Bible - illustrated by Dorothy P. Lathrop with text selected by Helen Dean Fish from the King James Bible.  The illustrations are black and white pencil drawings and are incredibly detailed.  There is a lot of shading that really makes the images stand out.  These are beautiful drawings, and the work set a great precedent for this award.  The text are selections from the Old and New testament that focus on animals.  Despite being more than 70 years old, this is still a great book today for those who want to read stories from the Old and New testament with their children and enjoy beautiful, award winning illustrations.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

If You See a Fairy Ring

One of my favorite fairy books is If You See A Fairy Ring illustrated by Susanna Lockheart.  This is a fun collection of fairy poems by authors from Shakepeare to Laura Ingalls Wilder.  The illustrations are wonderfully detailed, beautiful watercolor paintings.  Some of the pages open up and the little paper slats move to show a new image.  

I think this is a great introduction to poetry for younger children.  The poems are fun, light hearted and short and accompanied by engaging illustrations.  My favorite poem in the collection is one by Shakespeare:

If you see a fairy ring
Near a field of grass,
Very lightly step around,
Tiptoe as you pass;
Last night fairies frolicked there,
And they're sleeping somewhere near.
If you see a tiny fae
Lying fast asleep,
Shut your eyes and run away,
Do not stay or peep;
And be sure you never tell,
Or you'll break a fairy spell. 

In Wilmington, Delaware they have a beautiful estate and gardens called Winterthur. In the gardens there is a small portion that is an enchanted woods created by fairies.  They have created a fairy ring there - a circle of large mushrooms - and have this poem printed nearby.  It is a fairy lovers dream.  It is a must see in Delaware, just as this book is a must-have for all fairy lovers.  

Monday, October 10, 2011

In Aunt Lucy's Kitchen

I have become friends with my local children's librarian and she has suggested some great titles - one of which is Aunt Lucy's Kitchen written by Cynthia Rylant.   The writing style is geared towards early confident readers who are moving on to chapter books but it is much shorter than your typical chapter book.  I think that 5 or 6 to 9 year-old girls would love this book and series.

It is definitely geared towards girls - it is a story of three girls - two sisters and a cousin who are living with their Aunt Lucy while their parents are away dancing.  They live in an attic room upstairs and each girl has their own dedicated space in the wide open room.  They decide to start a cookie club business where they make and deliver cookies to people in the neighborhood.  Through this new found business they create some unexpected friendships.

This is a very simple and short story.  The characters and plot are not fully developed but I think it is  a very fun simple read.  My 6 year-old daughter is reading it and loves it. It is fun at her stage of a reading to have a chapter book that she can confidently and quickly read on her own.  I am excited to check out the rest of the series for her . . . and me!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Penderwicks at Point Mouette


The Penderwicks -this is definitely my favorite series I have read in a while.  At the start of the summer, I read the first Penderwick story and loved it.  A couple of weeks back, I read The Penderwicks on Gardam Street and I enjoyed it - but not as much as the first one. And I just barely finished the third book - The Penderwicks at Point Mouette - and, I think it is my favorite of the three.
I read Gardam Street a little bit ago so I am mostly going to focus on the third novel - but this is a fun one.  Mr. Penderwick begins dating, and the girls try to find horrible dates for him so he will want to stop.  Rosalind can not figure out her friendship with her best friend Tommy.  Skye and Jane swap homework assignments and must deal with the mess that results, and Batty befriends the new next door neighbors - Iantha and her son Ben.  

Point Mouette takes place in Maine at a beach house in the summer time.  Rosalind is off in New Jersey with her friend Anna and Mr. Penderwick and his new wife have gone to England for a conference/honeymoon.  So Skye, Batty, Jane, Aunt Claire and Jeffrey go for two weeks to Maine.  With Rosalind gone, Skye is left in charge as the OAP (oldest available Penderwick) - which leaves everyone nervous - most especially Skye.  The book weaves together stories of late night summer bonfires, broken hearts, new dreams and collecting lost golf balls while searching for moose.  

I feel like this novel really brought the three younger sisters - and Jeffrey - to life for me.  With Rosalind around (whom I love) the other sisters' stories were a little overshadowed and in this book all three of them "grew up" a little and their stories were front and center.  I guessed the major plot point from the start, but that did not leave me feeling that it was too predictable; rather I was excited to read more to see how it would unfold.  I thought that Birdsall wrote it in a way that was much more real and true to the emotions than I anticipated.  

This is a fantastic series and I highly recommend it!  This is definitely middle grade fiction - probably for around 8 to 12 year olds.  

Monday, October 3, 2011

Room on the Broom

I love the fall - crisp weather, long pants, pumpkins and leaves.  Growing up holidays were always a big deal in my family.  Every year my mom would collect dead branches and make a Halloween tree, cook chili and have a witches cauldron filled with apple juice and bubbling with dry ice.  So I especially love Halloween.

Great holiday books can sometimes be hard to come by but we love Room on the Broom written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler.  It tells the story of a friendly witch who always finds more room on her broom for her friends - until it finally snaps.  When the witch lands she is faced with a dragon and her friends are no where to be seen.

The story and illustrations are simple but fun.  The story has a light rhyming rhythm to it and is a fun Halloween book to read with kids.  So if you are in search of a Halloween read - this is our favorite one we have found.  Do you have any favorites?