Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Give Away #3

Once upon a time, there was a frog . . . and there was a toad . . . and they were friends.  Frog always saw the best in people and situations.   He was a laid-back, cheerful, "cup is half-full" fella.  Toad always seemed to find himself in a mishap.  And being a high-strung, "cup is half-empty" fella, he responded to his mishaps in a dejected sort of way.  Sometimes Toad gave in to the grumpies.  But no matter what, "Frog and Toad always helped each other out -- as good friends should." 

Arnold Lobel received a Caldecott Honor for Frog and Toad are Friends.  However, his artful drawings aren't the only thing that distinguish his Frog and Toad books, Lobel presents his readers with stories that are masterfully crafted in simplicity and charm.  Frog and Toad epitomize what loyal friendship looks like.  The humorous adventures of this endearing pair evokes chuckles from the youngest to the oldest listener.  Yep, Lobel's readers come back again and again and again and again. 

So, what's your age . . . 3, 7, 12, 32, 57, or 78?  No matter, you too will be charmed by these unforgettable characters and their unforgettable friendship.  There's a reason we see these titles in every bookstore, library, and book club, they're classics that keep their readers returning.  The kids enjoy this timeless series so much that they've proven you'll not stop with Frog and Toad are Friends (c. 1970), oh no, you'll have to continue with Frog and Toad Together (c. 1972, recipient of a Newbery Honor ~ for writing), Frog and Toad All Year (1976), and Days with Frog and Toad (1979).

You guessed it; today's give away Frog and Toad are Friends, an I CAN READ Book, is perfect for the budding reader, yet it also resonates with the reader of any age.  To enter the give away, post a comment by next Wednesday (April 6).  I will then announce the winner, pulled at random, on that following Thursday (April 7).  Good luck.  Meanwhile, be sure to enjoy the adventures of Frog and Toad.


Sunday, March 27, 2011

Ivy Cottage

There are many books out there that I wish, wish, wish would be reprinted.  The series that I'm going to share with you today is one of those.  E. J. Taylor wrote and illustrated the Ivy Cottage series.  Each tale centers around Miss Biscuit, a retired nanny, and the two live rag-dolls under her care: Violet Pickles and Ruby Buttons.   
Ivy Cottage (c. 1984) tells of the family's big move from city to country.   

Goose Eggs (c. 1984) relates how the threesome settle into country life.   

The Thorn Witch (c. 1985) narrates a humorously spooky tale.

Rag Doll Press (c. 1985) recounts a story of teamwork.

Christmas at Ivy Cottage (c. 1991) presents a tale evoking Christmas spirit.

Every so often, I have to hide this series from my little brood in order to "move on with the next thing."  But then, sooner or later they gravitate back to Ivy Cottage.  Therein lies the charm.  I'm not quite sure if it's the story, the illustrations, or the combination of both that enthralls them.  Either way, the online consensus resounds deep affection accompanied by the repeating statement "bring back into print!"  I, personally, don't find Taylor's writing noteworthy.  He's much better gifted in illustrating.  However, that said, I am impressed with the Good Samaritan lessons these books teach.  That these stories emerged from the heart of an adventuresome boy, fishing his way through the Alaskan waters, may be the most surprising fact of all!

Take note: these books are very difficult to find.  Unfortunately, our local library doesn't have them in their circulation.  However, I have frequented a copy at a used bookstore.  You can find copies online in used book sites.  I'm guessing that my copies came from the Weekly Reader Paperback Club that's stamped on the back cover.  So perhaps you have a copy in Dad's attic somewhere?  For now, satisfy your appetite with E. J. Taylor's illustrations by looking at and clicking on the "illustrations" tab before scrolling across the various "book" photos at the bottom of the page.  Don't leave the site without checking out Taylor's adventurous bio.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Paul Galdone wrap-up

Let's recap Read Me A Story's featured Paul Galdone titles (click on cover jacket to read more about that specific title):

Want to know more about Paul Galdone?  Here's a start:
  • birthplace ~ Budapest, Hungary, sources differ on the actual date of birth, reporting both 1907 and 1914
  • immigration ~ with his family to the United Sates at 14 years old
  • schooling ~  Art Student's League and New York School of Industrial Design
  • work experience ~ busboy, electrician's helper, fur dyer, book jacket designer at Doubleday art department, four year stint in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, freelance designer/illustrator, children's book illustrator
  • death ~ 1986, at which he had illustrated nearly 200 books, illustrating an average of six children's books a year from 1951 - 1986
  • medium of choice ~ pen-and-watercolor in conjunction with black-and-white sketches
  • illustrations ~ meticulously researched settings; carefully examined plants and animals; reflected small attention to detail and bold colors so beloved to children;  often depicted the meadows, streams, gardens, orchards, and woodlands on and around his farm in Vermont; inspired by the masters Rembrandt, Goya, Hogarth, and Daumier

Now, for the winner of The Little Red Hen . . . congratulations to Sara!!!  Check out Sara's blog:   Be on the lookout next week when I'll host another give away for the older children in your family.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Three Billy Goats Gruff

The first time I read Paul Galdone's The Three Billy Goats Gruff (c. 1973) to the kids, I read it dramatically, giving voice to each character, and, consequently, scared them to death.  Ooops!  The second time I read it (a three-second follow-up to the first reading), I dropped the voices, and the kids loved the story.  All that to say, Momma is scary and Paul Galdone is not.

You must pick up this book from the library!  Galdone does a phenomenal job of retelling the classic folktale (which I believe originated in the Norwegian oral tradition - please, please correct me if I'm mistaken!) with his characteristic wit and humor.  It depends on your child's sensibilities as to whether the troll is scary or not.  We think he's ridiculously hideous . . . which lends a purposeful hilarity to the character.

Whenever we check out The Three Billy Goats Gruff, I get hoarse from re-reading it so many times (yep, the kids now beg for the dramatic voices).  There's a certain satisfaction of good triumphing over bad that kids implore to hear again and again!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Three Little Kittens

You're familiar with the Mother Goose rhyme ~ one of our family's favorite ~ of the "Three Little Kittens," right?   The rhyme begins with this first stanza:

Three little kittens lost their mittens,
And they began to cry,
"Oh, mother dear, we sadly fear,
Our mittens we have lost."
"What!   Lost your mittens, you naughty kittens!
Then you shall have no pie."
"Meow, meow, meow meow."

There are an additional three stanzas that follow, which we enjoy singing as well as reading.  Now, my kids were wild about this classic nursery rhyme before, but when Nana gave Galdone's interpretation (c. 1986) to our youngest this past Christmas, well, that just sealed the deal.  Galdone's whimsical illustrations depict detailed scenes sure to capture any child's fancy.  Toddlers and preschoolers especially enjoy a tale of "naughty" kittens desiring a slice of pie as well as Galdone's colorful illustrations.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Happy Spring!

Oxfordshire Children's May Song

Spring is coming, spring is coming,
   Birdies, build your nest;
Weave together straw and feather,
   Doing each your best.

Spring is coming, spring is coming,
   Flowers are coming too:
Pansies, lilies, daffodillies,
   Now are coming through.

Spring is coming, spring is coming,
   All around is fair;
Shimmer and quiver on the rier,
   Joy is everywhere.

We wish you a happy May.

McConnaughy, Holly Pell, ed.  Favorite Poems for Children.  NY: Barnes & Noble Books, 1993.

A wonderful spring read and activity: I, Vivaldi by Janice Shefelman.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Give Away #2

The next book up for the March Madness give away is a gently used copy of The Little Red Hen (c. 1973) by Paul Galdone.

If you haven't picked up a title of Paul Galdone's fairy tales, then you're missing out on a real treat!  I'm indebted to my Mom for so many things, one of them being her introduction to Paul Galdone's folk/fairy tales.  Hungarian-born Gladone interprets the Brothers Grimm, Charles Perrault, and Hans Christian Anderson with an underlying humor that "lightens-up" the tale.  His illustrated expressions just tickle my fancy!

Rather than spending weeks upon weeks on Paul Galdone's tales, I'm going to highlight our family favorites, starting with The Little Red Hen.  However, I encourage you to search his name in your local library and discover your favorites.

The lesson of The Little Red Hen too often remains one that we'd all like to share with various adults we encounter . . . but then I digress.  Children really identify with the justice of this tale that presents an occasion when it is okay not to share.  And that last illustration . . . isn't it just priceless!

To enter the Galdone give away, post a comment by Wednesday evening.  The winner will be selected at random and announced on Thursday.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Never Talk to Strangers

I discovered Never Talk to Strangers (c. 1967) by Irma Joyce and illustrated by George Buckett on my friend Jane's bookshelf.  Now folks, here's a clever, nonthreatening way to introduce "stranger danger" to your young ones!  Did I mention just how winning Buckett's whimsical illustrations are?!

Joyce immediately grabs her young audience's attention with her humorous rhymes, for example:
          If you're mailing a letter to Aunt Lucille,
          And you see a car with a whale at the wheel,
          Stay away from him and his automobile,
                Never talk to strangers.

So while the kids roll with laughter (literally) at Joyce's silly rhymes, they learn and remember the principles behind the humor: welcome friends, but never talk to strangers.

Well done, Joyce and Buckett!  I'm now on a hunt for a copy of our own!

Another "stranger danger" recommendation:

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel

Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel (c. 1939) by Virginia Lee Burton remains a must read for every child.  And you mothers who have requested titles to give your sons -- wrap this one up for his next birthday!  Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel is a book that little boys hang on to until they become big boys, and the big boys read it to their offspring, feasting on the memories it evokes.  If you don't believe me, ask your husband, dad, brothers, uncles, brother-in-laws, etc.  It's a timeless "keeper" that you'll be returning to again and again.  And so our story begins:

Mike Mulligan had a steam shovel,
    a beautiful red steam shovel.
       Her name was Mary Anne.
          Mike Mulligan was very proud of Mary Anne.
              He always said that she could dig as much in a day
                 as a hundred men could dig in a week,
                   but he had never been quite sure 
                      that this was true.

Introduce your children to Mike Mulligan, Mary Anne, the townspeople of Popperville, that winning, ingenious "little boy" of Popperville, and keep this book for generations to come!

More books by Virginia Lee Burton (click on image to read recommendation):

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Kevin Henkes wrap-up:

During the past week, I've shared many Kevin Henkes titles.  Be sure to check out Henkes webpage while you're reading his books:  In review, this week's featured titles include (click on image to read recommendation):

Others we check out and re-check out:

Old Bear (c. 2008)
Birds (c. 2009)

Finally . . . the winner of Lillly's Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes is Jenny Stevning!  Congratulations, Jenny!  If you get a chance, hop on over to Jenny's blog to check out her art!  And remember, I'll be hosting another give away shortly.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Who has seen the Wind?

by Christina Rossetti

Who has seen the wind?
Neither I nor you:
But when the leaves hang trembling,
The wind is passing through.

Who has seen the wind?
Neither you nor I:
But when the trees bow down their heads,
The wind is passing by.

For a wonderful story about wind, check out Pat Hutchins' The Wind Blew

Monday, March 7, 2011

Kitten's First Full Moon

Henkes received the Caldecott Medal in 2005 for Kitten's First Full Moon (c. 2004).  With several repetitive lines sprinkled throughout, here's a story the kids love to read along with me -- filling in those anticipated lines.  Henkes presents a humorous story of kitten who eagerly attempts to lick from a bowl of milk . . . which he perceives the moon to be.  And somehow, unlimited by his black and white drawings, Henkes captures the moon's illuminate reflections.  This precious gem of a book best suits those kindergarten ages and younger.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse

I've been thinking that I should offer a give-away.  So during the whole month of March, I will be hosting book give-aways.  We'll just call it March Madness.

This week, I'm giving away a copy of Kevin Henkes' Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse (c. 1996).  To enter the give-away: post a comment answering: what has been your family's favorite book recommended by Read Me A Story.  Post your comments by Tuesday noon in order to be eligible to win.  I will announce the winner (pulled at random) on Wednesday.  Best wishes!

And now for Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes: even though Henkes communicates Lilly's emotions from her point-of-view, children wince at the fickle unkindness Lilly exhibits when she criticizes her beloved teacher and adored role-model, Mr. Slinger.  Watch how Henkes signature watercolor and ink drawings extend the story beyond the written word (in true Henkes style).

Thursday, March 3, 2011


The kids' three all-time-favorite Kevin Henkes' picture books are Chrysanthemum, Wemberly Worried, and Kitten's First Full Moon.

Chrysanthemum relishes her parents' hand-picked name for her . . . that is . . . until the first day of kindergarten.  Let's face it: children relate to stories empathizing with their problems!  So who hasn't been teased before . . . name-called . . . possibly with a variation of one's given name?  Show of hands.  Oh, just about everyone.  Right.  Enter Chrysanthemum where Kevin Henkes massages these childhood vulnerabilities into a bright ending that kids just relish.  What else I like about Chrysanthemum (c. 1996), suggested for ages 4-8:
  • Kevin Henkes' signature watercolor and ink drawings
  • the close knit family providing comfort and stability
  • the moral: be yourself / it's okay to be unique

    And as for Wemberly Worried, well you'll just have to wait for that recommendation until August, right before school starts.  Trust me, it will be more timely then.  However, stick around this week for more Kevin Henkes book recommendations and a drawing to receive a free book.

    Wednesday, March 2, 2011

    Black History Month

    I feel a bit like I'm playing catch up.  I've checked out many, many books from our local library, celebrating Black History Month . . . which was in February . . . and now it's March.  I'd say I'm behind!  Allow me to share with you the three books that continue to draw me back:

    Through My Eyes by Ruby Bridges herself was perhaps the most moving of all three titles because it gave the most heart-wrenching account of the days of the Civil Rights Movement.  It took me several days before my mind would rest from what I read of Ruby Bridges' (and her teacher, Mrs. Barbara Henry) story.  The suggested ages for this title are 8-12.

    David A. Adler is renown for his biographies for children for a reason.  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., proves no exception.  I especially liked illustrator Colin Bootman's interpretation of the historic events retold in this book.  From the Holiday House Reader, this level 2 volume is suggested for ages 4-8.
    The review on the inside dust jacket of Rosa Parks best describes the book: "David A. Adler's Picture Book Biographies have been hailed as an 'expert mixture of facts and personality' (School Library Journal)."  Rosa Parks is suggested for grades K through 4th.