Thursday, August 23, 2012

King Bidgood's in the Bathtub

A classic, right?  King Bidgood's in the Bathtub is one of those books that I don't remember reading over and over again as a child but when I saw it on the shelf, I smiled, finding an old forgotten friend.  I bought it for my 4-year-old son for some occasion and it has quickly become his go-to book.  Every afternoon for quiet time when putting together his pile of books to look through he always asks, "Where is King Bidgood's in the Bathtub?"

By the great Audrey and Don Wood, the story tells of King Bidgood who will not get out of the bathtub.  The kingdom is in need of his presence and rulings but no matter how he is begged and pleaded with he won't get out. In fact, he keeps on inviting people in, to the room that is.  How the King is lured from the bathtub in the end is a delightful ending to a enjoyable book.

The illustrations are lavishly detailed with rich colors from the food to the dresses to the people.  Words aside, one could spend hours reading the illustrations.  And that is just what my son does, every day, just after noon.

Monday, August 20, 2012

When You Reach Me

When You Reach Me is a book that has called out to me many times from the library shelves.  I find myself filling my bags to the brim every time I go to the library, only to find that I can't really read that many books before they are due.  So this one made it back to the shelves before I could read it, only to call out to me again.  It won the Newbery for 2009 so it is by no means a new find, but I listened to it and loved it.

The story revolves around Miranda, a sixth grade girl living in New York City in the late 1970s.  Her mother is a quirky single-mother secretary who is studying up for her appearance on the television show, The $20,000 Pyramid show.  Miranda is best friends with Sal but when a kid walks up the street and punches Sal in the stomach, for no good reason, Sal stops talking to Miranda.  Miranda makes new friends and spends her time working in a sandwich shop with them or having sleepovers and reading her favorite book, A Wrinkle in Time.  Mystery enters the story when Miranda receives a note, foretelling the future, and requesting her assistance.

The story seems to be a mix of a multitude of stories and genres all put together into one.  I love the characters.  Miranda and her friends ring true to me of the dilemmas and life of a sixth grader.  Miranda's mother is one of my favorite characters - quirky yet determined and not one to be pushed around.  Every character reads real and seems to be someone you would find as your neighbor, at the corner drug store or in your sixth grade classroom.

This story is so well written and plotted out that the reader will turn page after page in anticipation of finding out how the mystery unravels only to wish they could start over at page one again once the book is finished.

Sunday, August 12, 2012


I just returned from an extended vacation out West.  It was fabulous.  But this past week as my children, and I, have struggled to adapt back to "regular" life and the East Coast time zone - my mind keeps going to a picture book that came out this spring - GEM by Holly Hobbie. This past week I have felt a little like the toad darting away from the treads of the moving tire - but I think we have successfully found the side of the road and are back to regular life again.

GEM tells the story of a small toad's spring journey to a child's backyard.  It is a journey full of beauty and adventure but not without obstacles.  Like the giant tire on a car.  Or the huge hawk inches away from snatching him up.  As the child meets the Toad she is faced with the age-old dilemma of how she will define her relationship with this new found friend. Bookending toad's journey lies the story of the author, Gram, and her granddaughter Hope.  The toad's story is silent but the two letters between Grand mother and child add an extra layer of depth and intimacy.

The watercolor paintings, detailed with pen and ink, illuminate spring on a pastel palette. Each page is bordered in white and brings Toad's spring adventure into focus through varying wide and telephoto lenses.  The colors and detailed paintings are simply beautiful.  No matter what season you read this in, it will leave you longing for the unfolding green of spring.