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.  . . .