Friday, January 23, 2009

There Are Cats in This Book

Read: 1/20/2009
There Are Cats in this Book by Viviane Schwartz

What a delightful book to read aloud to the youngest of children. Three high maintenance cats set about telling you how to interact with the book. Turn the page, lift the flap, etc.

Kids really enjoy the whimsical, bossy cats and the use of die-cut pages is on a par with Go Away, Big Green Monster!

Seriously- I'm putting this at the top of the books I've read this year!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Turtle's Penguin Day

Read: 1/20/2009

Turtle's Penguin Day by Valerie Gorbachev

Turtle's dad reads him a book about penguins before bed. That night, Turtle dreams he is a penguin and has so much fun in his dream he decides to dress up like a penguin for school that day. He also takes the book to school with him. The teacher and his classmates all catch his penguin enthusiasm and they have a great day pretending to be Penguins at school. That night, his dad reads him a book about Monkeys...

The illustrations are sketchy and fun, the story is brief and engaging. This would be a great story to read to older preschoolers or kindergarteners.

The Twins

Read: 1/20/2009

The Twins by John Wallace

Nelly and Lil are twins who are as different as night and day. When they have an assignment at school to write about their likes and dislikes, Lil does hers right away, while Nelly goes outside to play. When she realizes her sister is finished with her assignment, she adds to it all about herself to create a joint project.

The characters are stereotyped to the N'th degree and the watercolor and pencil illustrations are very cute. I saw my childhood friend Kelly and myself in the two characters - and I am definitely Nelly and she was definitely Lil.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Do Unto Otters

Read: 1/7/2009

By the same person who wrote Scrambled States of America, this book is about manners. I actually liked this one, the animals depicted are anthropomorphized but the quirky style that Keller illustrates in is more attractive.

A Rabbit learns that some Otters are moving in next door. He is upset about this because he hasn't met an Otter before. The Owl advises him to "do unto Otters as you would have them do unto you." Okay, its a bad Golden Rule pun and the complete basis of the story.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Louise, The Adventures of a Chicken

Read: 1/5/2009

Louise, The Adventures of a Chicken by Kate DiCamillo, Illustrated by Harry Bliss

Louise is a chicken who longs for adventure and she goes on some very exciting adventures in this picture book which is almost a chapter book. In fact it is separated into four chapters. Because of the length and sophistication of the book, I'd say it is one of those elusive 3rd grade level books, though the large format is that of a picture book.

The illustrations by Harry Bliss (of Diary of a Worm fame) are lush and romantic. They look like a cross between a Winslow Homer painting and a cartoon. Don't believe me? Check out the cover!

Old Bear

Read: 1/5/2009

Old Bear by Kevin Henkes

Old Bear falls asleep for his winter hibernation and dreams about the seasons - spring, summer, winter, fall. Then he wakes up and it is Spring!
The very simplest of stories, this one would be great to use with the very youngest of children.
The pictures are simple and sweet, and in a much larger scale than Kevin Henkes' usual style.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Whopper Cake

Read: 1/2/2009

Whopper Cake by Karma Wilson, Illustrated by Will Hillenbrand

Its Grandma's birthday and Grandpa decides to bake her gigantic chocolate cake - a Whopper Cake. The dogs seem to like to watch, and everyone comes to have some of this cake. The story is in rhyme and moves at a fast pace. There is a recipe for Whopper Cake at the end.

The illustrations by Will Hillenbrand are sketchy and sloppy but fun - kind of like Grandpa. Paint spatters become part of the whole picture - you can tell the mess making is an integral part of the story. Some of the details make it believable for me, like the cut up tennis balls on the legs of the stool Grandpa sits on and the garters holding up Grandpa's socks. I just had a revelation - Grandma and Grandpa are two old hippies.