Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Night Before Christmas

Every year I talk about how you MUST read The Night Before Christmas, a poem by Clement C. Moore so beloved that it's been popularized into picture book form.

It's so popular, in fact, the question isn't if you can find a copy but which copy should you take home.  I've shared my favorites over the years, and here's another recommended illustrated copy with pictures by the prolific children's illustrator Gyo Fujikawa (c. 1961, reprinted 2007).

My very favorite illustration in the whole book is:

But wait, I didn't include the whole spread.  To find out what the rest of this picture looks like, you'll have to check out the book from your local library or pick up a version for yourself at your favorite book store.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Story of the Nutcracker Ballet

We know what the story is about (c. 1983, author Deborah Hautzig).

But have you seen Diane Goode's quirky illustrations of this Nutcracker?  If not, you're in for a treat in the Land of Sweets.

Her characters look like you could just reach right into the pages and pull out your very own doll . . . they're so droll!

In fact, the only disappointment with The Story of the Nutcracker Ballet is that the characters don't actually come to life, even after a midwinter nap.

The Nutcracker Ballet

If you'd like a copy of The Nutcracker Ballet that your youngster can read for himself, check out this Step 3 version by Deborah Hautzig and illustrated by Carolyn Ewing (c. 1992).

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

Would you like a fresh look at that very first Christmas?  If so, I recommend looking at Barbara Robinson's The Best Christmas Pageant Ever and rediscovering Christmas through the eyes of the Herdmans.

The Herdmans?!!! you ask.  Aren't they the kids who dodge a banging garage door for fun?  Aren't they the kids who burned down Fred Shoemaker's shed?  Aren't they the kids who smoked cigars in the church ladies bathroom?  Yep, those are the ones.

What could we possibly learn from them? you may ask.  Well, the Herdmans help us revisit Mary and Joseph's journey to a bustling, unfamiliar Bethlehem, and their arrival just in time for Jesus' birth.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever isn't just a book for the kids; it's is a book for parents too.  It pushes us to reconsider why we're doing all we're doing this holiday season.  Is it TRADITION! Tradition! (Thank you, Reb Tevye!), etc.?  Or are we intentionally setting out to bless someone other than ourself?

Take time out to read Barbara Robinson's 80 page book with your family this season.  Somewhere among the sidesplitting humor rests the true spirit of the Christmas season.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Leaf Man

Leaf Man (c. 2005) by Lois Elert remains one of those stories that's just pure-and-tee fun!   If you don't believe me, just try to check this book out . . . there's a waiting list at the library . . . and then once you get it, you'll first notice the love-worn cover of this newer book, just published in 2005.  The story begins on the cover jacket flap: Where does a Leaf Man go when the wind blows?  Do you know?  Follow the fantastical journey of the Leaf Man and his Leaf Friends.

While your children examine the creative and intricate construction of Elert's illustrations, they cannot help but recognize the names of the leaves.  Elert constructed the quirky illustrations in Leaf Man through years of collecting and copying actual fall leaves.  A wonderful book to own, Leaf Man inspires the youngest to the oldest of us.  After reading it, my children and their friends have embarked on a journey of gathering leaves to create their own leaf men, leaf animals, and leaf fairies.  What better way to teach children the beginnings of botany than through this fabulous fall read that Lois Ehlert provides.

If your family had a blast reading Leaf Man, then here's some more Lois Ehlert books to check out:
Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf (c. 1991) explores the life cycle of a maple tree.

Nuts to You! (c. 1993) follows a day in the life of a squirrel.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Tumtum and Nutmeg

Hello Readers!  I have quite a treat that's been well worth the wait.  My young reading friend, Jenna, has provided today's review. And after reading her review, we've put ourselves on the waiting list to check out this read from the library.  I can't wait!  Thank you, Jenna, for such a fun, adventurous book recommendation!

I loved reading Tumtum & Nutmeg.  I give it five stars.  It was about two  mice that had one adventure after another.  I believe that everyone who loves chapter books, cute critters, or just a good adventure should read Tumtum and Nutmeg.

Tumtum & Nutmeg: Adventures Beyond Nutmouse Hall Review (c. reprint 2011)
stories by Emily Bearn with pictures by Nick Price
500 pages
3 stories in 1
"Tumtum & Nutmeg"
In the Mildew's house (Arthur, Lucy, and a Dad) lived 2 mice called Tumtum and Nutmeg who lived in Nutmouse Hall.  Nutmeg decides to clean for them.  The Mildew kids' aunt comes and visits.  She is cruel.  Tumtum, Nutmeg, the General, Poppet, and the soldiers help get rid of her.

"The Great Escape"
The General gets captured by Arthur and Lucy.  They bring him to school and put him in a cage with gerbils. Can the General escape or be captive forever?

"The Pirates Treasure"
The General, Nutmeg, and Tumtum get captured by pirates!  Will this be the end or can they escape?

by Jenna

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Sleep Like A Tiger

Need a lullaby story for your little one?  Look no further! Check out Caldecott Honor book Sleep Like A Tiger by Mary Logue and illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski (c. 2012).  In fact, this book is so sure to lull your little one (or you) into slumber that you either find yourself buying it or paying overdue fees at the library.

Night, night, and sweet dreams . . .

Here are some of my favorite pages:

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Too Tall Houses

Struggling with selfishness?  Got the gimmes?

Sick of hearing, "Mooooooooom!  Johnny won't give it back!" or "Daaaaaaaaaaad!  Sally hit me!"

While I thought that Too Tall Houses by Gianna Marino (c. 2012) presented a lighthearted (and B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L-L-Y illustrated) approach to this time-worn dilemma, the book sparked an interesting conversation amongst unsuspecting little listeners.  And while I thought that it prompted a fortuitous response among my brood, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that my friend Sarah's brood responded the same way.  So give it a whirl.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

It Couldn't Be Worse!

So are y'all starting to get on each other's nerves yet?  Your family, that is.  :)  Maybe in all this rain, you're driving each other up the wall?  It's that time of summer when some parents and/or siblings start looking forward to school starting.

Here's a book full of laughs that just might change your perspective. Check out It Couldn't Be Worse! by Vlasta van Kampen (c. 2003). And for a sneak peek, continue reading the first page:

The tiny house had just one room.
       A poor farmer, his wife, their six children, and the grandparents lived there.
      They quarreled and fought and got in each other's way.  . . .

Saturday, June 29, 2013

books with homonyms

hom·onym noun \ˈhä-mə-ˌnim, ˈhō-\ [hom-uh-nim]: 
Phonetics  a word pronounced the same as another but differing in meaning, whether spelled the same way or not, as heir and air;  a homophone  def 1 .
a word that is both a homophone and a homograph, that is, exactly the same as another in sound and spelling but different inmeaning, as chase  “to pursue” and chase  “to ornament metal.”
(loosely) a word of the same written form as another but of different meaning and usually origin, whether pronounced thesame way or not, as bear  “to carry; support” and bear  “animal” or lead  “to conduct” and lead  “metal;” a homograph.

The folks around here are going through a phase of books with homonyms.  They absolutely L-O-V-E them!  They're going bonkers over Amelia Bedelia and Fred Gwynne books, so I had to pass along the love.  Seriously, they think these books are hilarious!!!  So if you would like to give it a whirl, here are some of our favorites:

Books written and illustrated by Fred Gwynne (Yep, for those of us -parents- who remember The Munsters TV show, these are by "Herman Munster."  FUNNY!):
The King Who Rained  (c. 1970)
A Chocolate Moose for Dinner (c. 1976)
A Little Pigeon Toad
The Sixteen Hand Horse

Books written by Herman Parish and illustrated by Lynne Avril:
picture books:
Amelia Bedelia's First Library Card (c. 2013)
Amelia Bedelia's First Vote (c. 2012)
Amelia Bedelia's First Field Trip (c. 2011)
Amelia Bedelia's First Apple Pie (c. 2010)
Amelia Bedelia's First Day of School (c. 2009)
Amelia Bedelia's First Valentine's (c. 2009)

I Can Read! books Level 1:
Amelia Bedelia Makes a Friend (c. 2011)
Amelia Bedelia Sleeps Over (c. 2012)
Amelia Bedelia Hits the Trail (c. 2013)

chapter books:
Amelia Bedelia Means Business (c. 2013)
Amelia Bedelia Unleashed (c. 2013)
Amelia Bedelia Road Trip (c. 2013)

And the original Amelia Bedelia books by Peggy Parish:
Amelia Bedelia
Come Back, Amelia Bedelia
Amelia Bedelia and the Surprise Shower
Thank You, Amelia Bedelia
Play Ball Amelia Bedelia
Amelia Bedelia TREASURY
Amelia Bedelia and the Baby
Amelia Bedelia Helps Out
Good Driving Amelia Bedelia
Teach Us, Amelia Bedelia
Calling Doctor, Amelia Bedelia
BRAVO, Amelia Bedelia
Amelia Bedelia's Family Album
Amelia Bedelia, Rocket Scientist
Go West, Amelia Bedelia!
Merry Christmas Amelia Bedelia
Amelia Bedelia 4 Mayor

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Nancy Clancy Super Sleuth

Author Jane O'Connor and illustrator Robin Preiss Glasser's chapter book debut Nancy Clancy Super Sleuth, Book 1 (c. 2012) gives a nod to Nancy Drew mysteries in their sleuthing story for readers aged 4-10 (although, my experience is that listeners as young as 4 enjoy it too).

Ooh la la!  Now Nancy and Bree had two mysteries to solve - the secret of the twins . . . and the case of the missing marble! (O'Connor 63).  Keep up as the plots thicken, and see if you can guess the outcomes before all of Bree's and Nancy's evidence comes in.  Calling all Fancy Nancy fans, "Let's crack these cases!"

Monday, June 24, 2013


Cordelia knows all the manners that accompany a proper tea.

But what happens when you invite a Tyrannosaurus Rex to a tea party?

Check out Tea REX by Molly Idle (c. 2013) to find out.  And be sure to include both brothers and sisters in this reading!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Charming Opal

If you've been following ReadMeAStory from the beginning, you know that around here we love Holly Hobbie's Toot & Puddle characters!  If you want to check out a Toot & Puddle summertime adventure, check out Charming Opal (c. 2003).

Cousin Opal comes to visit Woodcock Pocket and enjoy all the pleasures of summertime in the country.  But in the meantime, she looses her tooth.  And I do mean that she looses it.  Find out if the cousins find it in time for the Tooth Fairy's evening visit.

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Penderwicks

This is the book I would have loved to have read and re-read when I was a girl!!!

That being said, I'm just not sure what age to begin your child on this one.  The publisher's recommendation is age 9, and I think I'll go along with that.  I started to read it aloud to my brood . . . and they didn't want me to put it down.  Meanwhile, I was reading ahead every chance I could get.

If you have a tween who is looking for a good read, I really liked this one (the brood did too!).  It's a page turner of an adventure read.  Nice and clean.  Each character has his/her own special talent: from concert level pianist to mathematician, from botanist to storyteller, from nurturer to problem solver to athlete, so subtly this book encourages individuality with a positive vocabulary.

Yet at the same time, the adults can appear rather foolish --> from the absentminded-professor widowed father and a fairytale-like-wicked-stepmotherish snooty mother.  And as an adventure story, there is some secrecy and sneaking.  Some critics also contest that it's an idyllic, nostalgic, blast-from-the-past that's attempting to display a modern, American childhood. Those are most of the criticisms you'll run into.

So what do I think?  Personally, I think it's a more modern approach to an adventure story for those of us who love the Boxcar Children.  If you'd like to teach your reader to think critically, this could be a good, clean, adventure story to promote dialogue.  Have your own family book club around it.  Discuss these various assessments, and encourage your child to verbalize his/her own analysis. (Either way, you may want to do your own research rather than taking my word for it.)

So what's is the award-winning book The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall (c. 2007) all about?  Here's what the publishers have to say:

This summer the Penderwick sisters have a wonderful surprise: a holiday on the grounds of a beautiful estate called Arundel. Soon they are busy discovering the summertime magic of Arundel’s sprawling gardens, treasure-filled attic, tame rabbits, and the cook who makes the best gingerbread in Massachusetts. But the best discovery of all is Jeffrey Tifton, son of Arundel’s owner, who quickly proves to be the perfect companion for their adventures.

Here are more Penderwick sequels:

Thursday, April 4, 2013


It's that time of year again!  The kids are EXCITED to break out the rakes and shovels and dig into the dirt, planting flowers and vegetables.  Hope we have a better turn out with our veggies this year compared to last!

Meanwhile, as you begin planning your own gardens, here are some book recommendations for the younger set:

In Planting a Rainbow (c. 1988), author/illustrator Lois Ehlert outlines the progression of garden planning while introducing various flower species covering each color of the rainbow.  I recommend this book for young listeners and those just beginning to read themselves.

In Growing Vegetable Soup (c. 1987), author/illustrator Lois Ehlert follows the progression of planting, waiting, caring, harvesting, and eating vegetables.  Again, I recommend this book for young listeners and those just beginning to read themselves.

Kevin Henkes explores a child's fantasy of her perfect garden and contrasts that with the child's reality in his book My Garden (c. 2010).  This is a quirky, fun read that gardening adults will appreciate as much as children.

And now a big thank you to Robin H. for our family favorite: SUNFLOWER HOUSES: A Book for Children and THeir Grown-Ups by Sharon Lovejoy (c. 1991, renewed 2001).  Now reading friends of all ages, if you haven't had a change to pick up a book by Sharon Lovejoy, then you really are missing out!  Lovejoy speaks the language of children.  She knows how kids play outside; she just knows what attracts them, and she has great ideas of things for them to do right there in their very own backyard.  If you can't get your hands on Sunflower Houses or if you couldn't get enough of it, try Roots Shoots Buckets & Boots (Gardening Together with Children) and/or Toad Cottages & Shooting Stars.

Happy gardening, everyone!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Every Cowgirl Needs a Horse

Nellie Sue gives a whole new understanding to the term cowgirl, a cowgirl with imagination that is!  As Nellie Sue's birthday quickly approaches, she requests for the one gift every cowgirl needs most  . . .  a horse.

From the fanciful illustrator Lynne Avril, who illustrated the recent child Amelia Bedelia books, and author Rebecca Janni (c. 2010) comes a round-em-up story sure to entertain -- Every Cowgirl Needs a Horse!

Around here, these are the new favorites.  Does it help that I'm giving my best Texas drawl while reading? All I know is that the girls now want cowgirl outfits, and they're playing "cowgirls" at recess, "galloping about on their horses."

Once you get tired of the first book be sure to check out the follow ups:

Saturday, March 2, 2013

The Astonishing Secret of Awesome Man


Boys and girls!  Today we're introducing a new super hero.
Hold onto your hats.  He's not for the faint at heart.  He's Awesome Man.
Friend to those with big imaginations.  Arch enemies to those who hurt others.  He's Awesome Man.

Readers, have your mom or dad run to the library to pick up The Astonishing Secret of Awesome Man (c. 2011) written by Michael Chabon and illustrated by Jake Parker.  You absolutely don't want to miss out on discovering just how Awesome Man shoots his positronic rays and rids the world of evil villans.

Parents: This is a recommendation that dads will thoroughly enjoy reading to their youngsters. And moms, you'll love the mini moral that's so artfully hidden in the super hero lingo.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Crafty Chloe

Meet Chloe:

Chloe isn't very good at sports.
Video games were never her thing.
And when she took dance lessons, she had the grace of a camel in roller skates.
What Chloe is very good at is making stuff . . . (DiPucchio)

What will Chloe give her dear friend Emma for her birthday?  Be sure to check out this endearing story to find out!  Crafty Chloe (c. 2012) by Kelly DiPucchio and illustrated by Heather Ross is a new favorite here at ReadMeAStory. I'm talking about: we want sequels!!!

And if you can't get your hands on a copy of this darling book anytime soon, then make your own crafts at the author's blog: http://craftychloe.squarespace.com/

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Boy Naturalist

Okay folks, I've learned some new things reading the kids' books.  For one, did you know that John James Audubon disproved Aristotle's (and then current) scientific theory that birds don't fly underwater during winter . . . they migrate south.  Now it seems downright silly to even imagine that people used to believe this as truth.  But what is absolutely fascinating to my kids and me is that Audubon disproved the theory while he was a teen.  Not only that, he recognized and copied bird calls and songs when he wasn't even in the "double-digits."

The kids were amazed by other stories of Audubon's life.  In fact, we couldn't get enough of him.  We kept searching for more books and more stories.

If you'd like to read some stories of wanderlust and adventure, you must check out both the childhood and adult stories of John James Audubon.  And then after you've heard the tales of the talented artist / naturalist, check out the books with his very own, intricate bird illustrations.  This has been a delightful exploration week at ReadMeAStory!  I hope your family enjoys the biographies and illustrations as much as we have!

Here are some of our favorites:

Begin with The Boy Who Drew Birds: a story of John James Audubon by Jacqueline Davies and illustrated by Melissa Sweet (c. 2004), which Sweet beautifully illustrates herself, sometimes copying Audubon's field book, note-taking, sketching perspective.

Audubon: Painter of Birds in the Wild Frontier by Jennifer Armstrong and Jos. A Smith (c. 2003) presents three of our favorite WOW stories in Audubon's adulthood.  This book presents Audubon as more of a Daniel Boone frontiersman and explorer than the other books did.

You may also want to check out:
John Audubon: Young Naturalist by Miriam E Mason and Cathy Morrison (c. 2006) presents a great overview of Audubon's childhood and youth.  I would recommend this book for 2nd - 4th grade readers. Although, we did find the illustrations a little odd.