Purpose of this Blog...

You may have noticed that not all books are equal in capturing children's imaginations and in cultivating those innocent, tender souls. My goal is to help you find the ones that do!
(Painting by Mary Cassatt: "Mrs Cassatt Reading to her Grandchildren" -1888)




Friday, July 30, 2010

THREE TIMELESS STORIES ABOUT FAMILY... SET IN CHINA

Some books are childhood treasures and these certainly qualify.  I remember my mother reading them aloud to me and I, in turn, read them to my kids...I think these stories are timeless because it's comforting for children to know that, even in worlds far different from their own, family is family.

The Story about Ping (Reading Railroad Books) by Marjorie Flack, illustrations by Kurt Wiese (ages 4-8). A "there's no place like home" story of a little duckling who gets left behind on the shore of the Yangtze River in China.  Like Dorothy, he is eventually reunited with his family - "mother, father, two sisters, three brothers, eighteen uncles and aunts, and forty-two cousins", after going through a series of adventures, almost being made a duck dinner, and finally being rescued by a boy.  Beautiful text by Marjorie Flack.  Kurt Wiese lived in China and his illustrations bring the story to life.


Tikki Tikki Tembo Retold by Arlene Mosel, Illustrated by Blair Lent (ages 4-8).  In this book, you will meet a boy with a very long name - "Tikkitikki tembo-no sa rembo-chari bari runchi-pip peri pembo" - who falls down a well.  His younger brother has trouble calling out his long name in time to save him, but luckily there is an Old Man with a Ladder...nice pen and ink and wash drawings - and a great read aloud!  (Practice first!)



The Five Chinese Brothers (Paperstar) Retold by Claire Huchet Bishop, illustrations by Kurt Wiese (ages 4-8).  This tale is about five brothers who live with their mother by the sea, look exactly alike, but have different and extraordinary powers.  They must each use their own unique power to save the first brother from being unfairly put to death.  If your kids like the movie, THE INCREDIBLES, they'll love this book!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

ARCH BOOK BIBLE STORIES FOR AGES 4-8


Most of you have probably heard of Arch Book Bible Stories - they have been around for over 35 years!  What I love about them, is that each one is a complete Bible story, told in rhyme with bright illustrations...perfect for reading aloud to children ages 4-8.  They make great summer reading, and are wonderful baptism, nameday, and Easter basket gifts.


Some of our favorites:
THE BOY WHO SAVED HIS FAMILY (Joseph)
THE MEN WHO WALKED IN FIRE (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) 
THE MAN CAUGHT BY A FISH (Jonah)
THE BOY WITH A SLING (David)
DAVID AND JONATHAN
THE STORY OF NOAH'S ARK
THE GOOD SAMARITAN
MARY'S STORY (The Virgin Mary and Elizabeth)
THE HAPPIEST SEARCH (the Wise Men)
THE BABY BORN IN A STABLE (Nativity)

Here are a couple of websites that offer them at great prices (around $1.99 each):

BooksoftheBible.com
Christianbooks.com

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

FAMILY FAVORITES BY STEVEN KELLOGG...

Steven Kellogg's books are not to be missed, if you're looking for imaginative and humorous stories that will hold even the youngest child's attention and interest.  Since 1967, Mr. Kellogg has written and/or illustrated over 100 picture books for kids...here are some that were our own family's favorites for ages 4-8 (click on the pictures to see how much they are from Amazon, or find them at your local library):

The Mysterious TadpoleFind out what happens when Louis' Uncle McAllister brings back "a wee bit of Scotland" to him for his birthday.  Hint: This tadpole GROWS!  Heartwarming and hilarious story of a boy's devotion to his pet.  My kids wanted this book read to them over and over and over again!


How Much Is a Million? [HOW MUCH IS A MILLION ANN]Have you ever tried to explain the answer to this question to a 4-8 year old child?  This book will do it for you, as David M. Schwartz's concepts and mathematical calculations are helped brilliantly by Steven Kellogg's fun, detailed illustrations.  Another book we read over and over!


A Penguin Pup for Pinkerton (Picture Puffin)Pinkerton, the Great Dane, decides that a football must be an egg, after his owner, Emily, comes home from school with information about penguins and their amazing parenting skills...chaos ensues before Granny saves the day.  Other Pinkerton Books: Pinkerton, Behave!,A Rose for Pinkerton (Picture Puffins), Prehistoric Pinkerton (Picture Puffins), and Tallyho, Pinkerton! (Picture Puffins).  These stories were based on Mr. Kellogg's own harlequin Great Dane, named - Pinkerton, of course!


The Day Jimmy's Boa Ate the WashA "what happened next?" story unfolds as a mother asks her daughter how the class field trip to the farm went.  Kind of boring she says, until Jimmy's boa got away...again, chaos reigns and hilarity follows.  Written by Trinka Hakes Noble, with illustrations by Steven Kellogg.

Monday, July 26, 2010

CALLING ALL COWBOYS AND COWGIRLS...



I thought it would be fun to do a post on Western Themed Books this week!  As a child, I really wasn't exposed to much of the "Wild West" other than through Hollywood.  I remember watching The Lone Ranger on television and movies, like Annie Get Your Gun, with Betty Hutton and Howard Keel, and True Grit, starring John Wayne.   Now, as an adult, I live in the West, and when I walk on the horse trails in the hills behind my home, I try to imagine what life would have been like back then...I hear the grit of sand and dirt beneath my feet, feel the warm breeze and hot sun on my face, and smell the earthy scent of the orchid rockrose; but my mind more often wanders to the world of author Jessamyn West, (who grew up very close to my home) than to that of the Wild WEST!
"Landscape foams up around me like a painted picture where every brush stroke's got meaning. Meaning bursting out of weeds and fence rails"    -from THE FRIENDLY PERSUASION, by Jessamyn West

YEE-HAW, PARTNER!  I FOUND SOME GREAT WILD WEST-THEMED BOOKS TO HELP GET US THERE:

THE BRAVE COWBOY, by Joan Walsh Anglund (ages 4-8)  Anglund's charming line drawings bring this little Cowboy to life!  (The black line illustrations are what is happening in the boy's everyday life.  The red line illustrations show what he is imagining is going on.)
COWBOY SMALL, by Losi Lenski (ages 4-8).  Such a classic and I'm so glad it's in print!  Cowboy Small and his horse, Cactus, take care of each other!
COWBOYS AND COWGIRLS: YippeeYay! by Gail Gibbons (ages 4-8)  I really like Gail Gibbons' books.  Her colorful watercolor illustrations make the details so interesting in all her books.
CINDY ELLEN: A Wild Western Cinderella by Susan Lowell, illustrated by Jane Manning (ages 4-8).  Fun retelling has Cindy Ellen going to bbq's and rodeos, instead of the ball!
WESTWARD HO!: An Activity Guide to the Wild West (A Kid's Guide series) (ages 8-12) Fun activities and recipes for all things Western!
THE INDIAN IN THE CUPBOARD by Lynn Reid Banks (series for ages 8-12) See my post from 6/3/10 "Books That Transport Us..."
BY THE GREAT HORN SPOON! by Sid Fleischman (ages 8-12) Wild West adventure during the California Gold Rush.
BUFFALO BILL by Ingri Parin D'Aulaire. (ages 8-12)  Your child will meet William F. Cody in this beautiful picture book by the D'Aulaires.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

BOOKS ABOUT FRIENDSHIP



PICTURE BOOKS:
Amos & Boris, by William Steig (ages 4-8)  A bit of a twist on Aesop's fable of THE LION AND THE MOUSE.  Beautiful, poignant text and simple, sweet pictures of the unlikely friendship between a whale and a mouse.

Friends, by Helme Heine (ages 4-8)  The text and illustrations in this book are hilarious!  It takes these three Friends to maneuver their bicycle on all kinds of adventures...Charlie Rooster steering the handlebars, and Johnny Mouse and Fat Percy on each pedal.

Ira Sleeps Over,by Bernard Waber (ages 4-8)  Ira is excited to go and sleep at his friend, Regie's house, but isn't sure he can get along without his Teddy Bear.

Tanya and Emily in a Dance for Two,by Patricia Lee Gauch. (ages 4-8) Tanya, the smallest and wiggliest girl in her dance class, makes friends with the new girl, Emily.

A Friend Is Someone Who Likes You, by Joan Walsh Anglund (ages 4-8)  Her adorable illustrations and sweet text have made her books popular for generations.
"Some people have lots and lots of friends…
And some people have quite a few friends…
But everyone…
Everyone in the whole world
Has at least one friend."

Chester's Way, by Kevin Henkes (ages 4-8)  A story about accepting new people:  Chester and his best friend, Wilson, are surprised when Lily moves into their neighborhood and has her own exuberant way of doing things..

CHAPTER BOOKS:
Frog and Toad Are Friends, by Arnold Lobel (series, ages 4-8)  This beginner chapter book has five stories of Frog and Toad's adventures together.  A classic! 

Betsy-Tacy (Betsy-Tacy Books) by Maud Hart Lovelace (ages 5 and up)  See my previous post from 5/28/10:  "Chapter Books My Daughter Loved".

The Milly-Molly-Mandy Storybook by Joyce Lankester Brisley (ages 4-8)  Around since 1928, this collection of 21 adventures (set in England), complete with original art by the author, is a “window to a simpler time,” a classic that still delights all ages.

Charlotte's Web, by E.B. White (ages 7 and up)  "Why did you do all this for me?" Wilbur asked. "I don't deserve it. I've never done anything for you.'  You have been my friend,' replied Charlotte. 'That in itself is a tremendous thing."

The View from Saturday, by E.L. Konigsburg (ages 8 and up) "They told Mrs. Olinski that they were The Souls long before they were a team, but she told them that they were a team as soon as they became The Souls."

The Sign of the Beaver, by Elizabeth George Speare (ages 9-12)  The idea for this book came from a factual story that the author heard about: a young boy was left alone for a summer in the Maine wilderness and was befriended by a Native American and his grandson.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

BEAUTIFUL WATERCOLOR ILLUSTRATIONS BY LISBETH ZWERGER, NOT TO BE MISSED!

Quite often I find myself as drawn to good illustrators as I am to good authors.  But in most cases, it's because the illustrator has done such a good job bringing the author's work to life.  Such is the case with Lisbeth Zwerger.  Her gorgeous artwork is so delicate and ethereal, that it really lends itself perfectly to fairytales.  And that is what she mostly illustrates.  Lisbeth was born in Vienna, Austria and has been illustrating children's books for 24 years.  She received the Hans Christian Andersen medal - the equivalent of the Nobel Prize for children’s literature - in 1990, at the age of thirty-six.

The Selfish Giant (A Michael Neugebauer book)One of my favorite stories that Zwerger has illustrated is THE SELFISH GIANT, by Oscar Wilde.  I am lucky enough to have a copy, but unfortunately it is presently out of print and quite expensive.  No other version of Wilde's tale does the story justice, in my opinon, so it's worth it to search at the library for this particular one.

More books illustrated by Lisbeth Zwerger that are available at your local library - or click on the picture to see how much from AMAZON:

The Wizard of Oz   THE WIZARD OF OZ, by Frank L. Baum

Aesop's Fables    AESOP'S FABLES

A Christmas Carol    A CHRISTMAS CAROL, by Charles Dickens

The Little Mermaid     THE LITTLE MERMAID, by H. C. Andersen

Hans Christian Andersen's Fairytales    HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN FAIRY TALES

The Gift Of The Magi (Aladdin Picture Books)    THE GIFT OF THE MAGI, by O. Henry

How the Camel Got His Hump   HOW THE CAMEL GOT HIS HUMP, by Kipling

Thumbeline   THUMBELINE, by H. C.  Andersen

Little Red-Cap   LITTLE RED CAP, by Grimm Brothers