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Reading My Library

Friday, October 30, 2009

Progress Report

Goal set for reading all of the children's picture books in our library:

Monday, September 28th

Progress as of today's date:

I've read (according to the last name of the author) Aa through As and am into the Ar's.

Total number of picture books read:


Average number of times I go to the library during the week:


Average number of books checked out per visit:


Favorite New-to-Me author I've discovered so far:

Jon Agee

Total amount of fines due so far:

$2.50 (but I think that had to do with some Reading Rainbow videos I forgot to return in time!)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Read Aloud Thursday

Read-Aloud Thursday at Hope Is the WordRandomness this week - from the An-Ap section of the children's books. Proceed carefully, weed discriminately, and have fun. That seems to be the name of the game when you are loading up bags full of children's books. I don't look at the titles when I am filling up my library bag. I wait until I get home and sift through the pile there and we decide what we will read aloud and what will be a Mommy Only read. Here are some that we read aloud together this past week:

Elephants Aloft, by Kathi Appelt, was the Book Most Quickly Snatched Up by Bookworm1. When you open the front cover you discover Elephant Aunt Rwanda writing to her niece and nephew, Rama and Raja, asking them to come for a visit. Turn the page and you discover illustrator Keith Baker's dedication, "For Babar and Celeste and all the travelers of the world." From there on you travel with Rama and Raja on an almost wordless journey "IN" (a hotair balloon), "BETWEEN" (cliffs), "ACROSS" (the ocean), "BEYOND" (the rainbow). Each page spread contains a single word with the exception of the first page which gives the introduction to this story in the form of Aunt Rwanda's letter. The next most complex sentences comes at the very end when Rama and Raja arrive at their aunt's house and run into her arms.

Bookworm1 really hadn't paid attention to hotair balloons before, as they have previously had nothing whatsoever to do with animals. However, he paid attention to this book and enjoyed this elephant-style journey. Great book.

Another book about animals (are you taking note of our favorite theme around here?) is Animal 123's which is a World Wildlife Fund book. This book is pretty basic and simple. Each page has an imagine of a number and a correlating number of animals to accompany it with! It counts from 1 to 20, taking note of lemurs, pelicans, tree frogs, lions, ELEPHANTS, and giraffes. It's a pretty cute book which also utilized photographs to illustrate which I like very much. Another great book and a good way to count from 1-20.

Lastly, Bookworm1 didn't really get into Cowboy Dreams: Sleep Tight, Little Buckaroo (also by Kathi Applet), but I thought it was pretty cute. In this book we've got ourselves a little cowpoke who is gotta get ready for bed.

"Hang your hat upon the bedpost, hang a wish upon a star. There's a whippoorwill a callin' as the dusk turns into dark."

It's a gentle lullabye type of book, concluding with the following lines:

"She's set coyote callin', "Yip yip yaroo . . . yip yip yaroo!" Good night, good night, my darlin', happy trails, my buckaroo!"

If you've got a buckaroo of your own (and I'm thinking of my nephew here) you might want to track this one down. Pretty cute.

So here's our random assortment of the day! Enjoyed by either one or both of us, these caught our attention this time.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Jack and the Dreamsack

Yes, it IS Monday. Yes we ARE starting another week. For some of us it may feel like a shorter/longer week than others but it's still the very start which brings elation, expectation and a mixture of weariness with it.

The same is true of the book Jack and the Dreamsack.

Ever wish you could stay awake in order to document your dreams? Jack does. In fact, he purposes to stay awake so that he can take note of everything he sees in his dreams -- much better than the "humdrum waking world." His dreams, it turns out, are fantastically interesting, being filled with pigs hatching from eggs, bluejeans for chairs, a mouse with wooden hair, leaping rivers and free trips to the zoo. Who would really want to wake up from such exciting adventures!?

Jack is disappointed when he wakes up and remembers that nothing that he saw when dreaming is real.

But what he does discover in the end that the best dreams are the ones that take place in the waking world. The dreams you dream when you are awake are the ones that go on and on. And some of those dreams can even be processed - or come to fruition! - on Mondays!

Jack and the Dreamsack, by Laurence Anholt (and I know I said we weren't going to talk about anymore books from the A-n section but I figured I'd be forgiven for this one!) is a treasure. I'd never heard of it before and I don't know whether or not you have. If you haven't yet, allow me the pleasure of the introduction...

Friday, October 23, 2009

But it's so hot down there!

You know the author is from the south when she titles one of her little book series "Bubba and Beau." The first book I picked up from my stack of "A-p" books was "Bubba and Beau Meet the Relatives," by Kathi Appelt. The whole big haired, lots of lipstick lot of them! Mama is cookin' up Bodacious Banana Buttermilk Pie and the only place that's safe to be when the relatives are a comin' and momma is busy is in the mud puddle. Because when your name is Bubba and you are a baby, where else would you be? And don't forget the dog!

After the relatives are all done exclaiming over Bubba and his froufrou city cousin, the next best thing to do is to introduce Miss Froufrou herself the mud puddle. It's the only way to have fun!

Having grown up in Texas, the big hair in the Bubba series certainly didn't shock me. Nor did the scene where the pickup truck is showed off. And when Bubba heads for bed in Bubba and Beau Go Night-Night, I wasn't at all surprised that part of getting ready for bed involved going to the Feed and Seed and seeing a lot of men in cowboy hats with toothpicks sticking out of their mouths. (Not that everyone in Texas is like that, mind you. Not hardly at all! But it's a good mental imagine of the place and even though I'm from Texas, I do like to poke fun at it.

It's hot and it's brown. Exactly why do people like to live there?!

*Excuse me a minute while I dodge the flying missles which will be flung at me momentarily by the relatives which are still down there.*

Whew! K! I'm back!

I also wasn't surprised by all of the "bless-a-my-souls" to be found within the pages of this book:

This book is about a family (all extended relatives - the whole kit and caboodle of them!) coming to welcome the newborn into the home. Bless-a-my-soul!

And I rather liked the southern feel and flavor Appelt adds in to Bayou Lullaby.

"Rockabye, you bayou gal,
Cattails be a-swishin'
Softly sigh, oh bayou gal,
On a star be wishin'

Don't you worry, ma petite,
Your pirogue's safely moored
Atop the water chocolat
Amid the reeds ashore."

This book reminds me of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland. Ok, not that it was supposed to do that, but that's what it did! You can just hear the crickets and see the twinkling lights of the fireflies in your mind's eye. Because I haven't actually been to the bayou, I'm afraid that Disneyland is going to have to suffice for now. But this is a pretty cool book and I liked it very much.

If you want books with a southern flavor to them - well, check for something by Kathi Appelt. You won't miss your mark, especially since she grew up in Texas (coloring on the garage walls - with her mother's permission!). You can find out more about her by reading her bio on her website.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Farewell A-n....

A small smattering and sampling of other books from the "A-n" stack.

If you have a child that is in any way drawn towards sealife, find a copy of this book! It's called Octopus, Oyster, Hermit Crab, Snail: A Poem of the Sea. Although the later half of the book is a poem, the first half just identifies different animals. Written and illustrated by Sara Anderson who has a colorful history as an artist, designing original pieces (of what I can't really say specifically) for companies such as Crate & Barrel and Target. (Not that Bookworm cares about those companies at all!)

In the copyright section of this book, Anderson says, "This is a panoramic introduction to the ocean and is not intended to be a reference to specific biosystems." Duly noted but that means little to nothing to my son for whom this book is a reference book and coverd a good number of ocean animals which are of great interest to him. A clown fish and anemone were even included! But perhaps the real thumbs up comes from the fact that Anderson named a lobster AND included a picture of a lobster on the same page. You might think that that is not a big deal but in one animal picture book that we own here at home, the author mentions a lobster in the story but there isn't one pictured. To that bookworm has declared, "I CAN'T BELIEVE there isn't a lobster!" So when we read the word "lobster" in Octopus, Oyster, we immediately verified that one really did bother to make an appearance. It passed the test with flying colors, satisfying all of our innermost desires to read about and look at various sea creatures.

Chuck's Truck, by Peggy Perry Andersonm reads like it's part tongue twister and part introductory phonics reader. A sample for you:

"This is Chuck. This is Chuck's truck. Chuck rides in his truck. The duck Luck rides in the truck with Chuck."

The story documents Chuck's travels to town where he gathers up a barnyard full of animals along the way and the story becomes more difficult for the adult to spit out and more hilarious for the toddler.

"So Sue and Lou and the goat Flo too, Nip and Tuck and the burro Buck, Fat Cat Pat and the workhorse Huck with the duck Luck, the chicken that goes "cluck," and Chuck..."

You get the picture. It's just simply hilarious, I tell you! If you think you'll like Chuck's Truck, you might also want to check out the sequel, Chuck's Band in which Chuck and all of his same barnyard friends begin playing musical instruments. Equally entertaining, I assure you.

Lastly, from one of my all-time favorite children's book publishers, Tiger Tales, comes the following which requires a teddy bear present for reading:

Seriously, don't skip out on having your teddy bear on hand for the reading of this story!

And now we will move on to A-p books and see what we find there!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Where are we at?

Progress report: I've read AA through AN and am off to the library again today to refill the bag.

In the meantime, here are a few things for you to check out:

I wrote about Reading My Library over at 5 Minutes for Books.


Zoe at Playing by the Book wrote up a blurb about Reading My Library and included some information about the book Penguin, by Polly Dunbar. Oh, but that's not all. Over at Playing by the Book they are about taking the books that they find and interacting with them in a crafty sort of way. You really must hop over to Playing by the Book's post about Penguins and see what they created. It's pretty awesome.

Otherwise, we're on Monday. It's a brand new week and we're rarin' to go. As whales are one of our favorite topics to read about around here, enjoy this little ditty that will no doubt get stuck in your mind and, well, I want to share the joy song with you.

And for a good laugh (if you are 3ish) check out this one:

Friday, October 16, 2009

Fun for Mommy

Hans Christian Anderson is still a LITTLE bit above the comprehension of Bookworm1. He'd much prefer a non-fiction book, to tell the truth, than a fiction one. Anderson seems to be more about concepts and Bookworm1 just wants to enjoy stories for the story sake. Anderson's stories DO give adults plenty to talk about though and I've really enjoyed revisiting some of these stories.

Two of my favorite Anderson stories are The Princess and the Pea and The Emperor's New Clothes. I enjoyed having these books in my library stack this past week and took pleasure in reading them all by my lonesome.

Reasons for liking The Princess and the Pea:

1. It's a princess story with some depth to it, kind of in keeping with MacDonald's tales (i.e., The Light Princess). It's a testing of personal character.

2. It's not a really DEEP testing of personal character but I still enjoy it all the same and have no other, if we must say so, deep reason for liking it. I just do.

Reasons for loving The Emperor's New Clothes:

1. Is there a good reason NOT to!? This book is a fabulous modern story tale that doesn't get enough airtime in my opinion. It can be related to politics, religion and any other taboo subject. (It's fantastic!)

2. I love how beautifully it illustrates truth. The adults in the story are too busy arguing with false logic, puffing themselves up and patting themselves on the back. It takes a little child to state the obvious, "But the emperor has nothing on at all!"

You might try to hide what is true or pretend something is otherwise, but eventually you will be found out. It may take a little child to state the obvious, but you can't pretend forever. That's what I love about this book. It's chalk full of meaning. I look forward to reading this book many times over as my kids grow up.

The copy of The Emperor's New Clothes that I picked up from the library was illustrated by Eve Tharlet and I have to say that I didn't particular enjoy the style of the illustrations. See below:

(It had nothing to do with Thartlet's artistic abilities.) I'd just rather pick up a different edition somewhere for our home library. Anyone have any suggestions of a particular edition of this book that you enjoyed?

Here's to Anderson and the wonderful memories he provided me with growing up, and for all of the memories yet to come. These books are timeless classics if ever books were!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Read Aloud Thursday

Read-Aloud Thursday at Hope Is the Word
It's time to talk about what we've been Reading Aloud lately and the truth of the matter is - not much! This has been a busy week and I haven't made it back to the library this week to "dump and reload." The main story that we read this week was The Ugly Duckling.

For an almost three year old, this is something of a long story to read. He mostly listened while playing with his trains.

Our library had multiple copies of this story, but the one we read aloud was adapted and illustrated by Jerry Pinkney and is a Caldecott Honor Book.

In this version of the story, the mother duck who discovers that one of her eggs is different, doesn't very much mind sitting on the egg until it hatches. She is a much more protective mother and seems to truly love her ugly little duckling, despite his obvious oddities. When the other fowls are picking on him, it is much more obvious that they are clearly in the wrong for teasing someone who is different. This version of the book reads much more as a modern parable than some of the other versions, which is something that I didn't mind at all. I do like the classic story and think it can stand alone in arguing that we shouldn't treat people differently just because they look or act in a way that we do not. I think the message of the original story by Hans Christian Andersen shouts that loudly enough on it's own. But making it a little more clear for young readers is not something I'm going to raise any objections to.

The other versions we read were a little more traditionally based. Each version seemed to emphasize different aspects of the story. The mother duck who gave her warmth to hatch Ugly's egg was a little meaner in the other books, as were the chickens who were picking on him. The poor little Ugly Duckling's story was a bit more pathetic but the ending is always the same - he grows into the most beautiful swan you've ever seen.

The message? Don't underestimate the importance, value and beauty of others. Every person is unique and their giftings and talents may very well surprise you! Certainly, it is still a relevant message for today.

One other version of this book that we read was retold by Adrian Mitchell and is illustrated by woodcuts by Jonathan Heale. I very much enjoyed the style of this book but still preferred the story in the Pinkney version better. Still, here is a picture of the cover art of the Mitchell book:

Here's to more fun reading, exploring and learning!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

What We'd All Like (Sometimes)

Good children's literature appeals not only to the child in the adult, but to the adult in the child.~ Anonymous ~

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Billy & Blaze

Our library had 8 of the 11 Billy and Blaze books on the shelf and so, of course, I brought them all home with me to read. I had never heard of them before and then suddenly they started popping up in various places. Semicolon talked about Billy & Blaze a few weeks back and then I heard a rumor that the series was going to be turned into a movie. (However, the website doesn't really seem to go anywhere.)

Penned and illustrated by C.W. Anderson, and published between 1936 and 1969, this was clearly a series written by a serious horse lover. From the very first book, Billy & Blaze, we find ourselves living life in the saddle, following the adventures of Billy. C.W. Anderson did have a passion for these animals and it was said that when he was not riding them, he was drawing them.

Each book in the series, as I said, follows Billy who is always on top of his favorite horse, Blaze. They have a variety of adventures together, saving lost calves from mountain lions, running from forest fires and locating ponies for other boys who long for their own horses to ride. The stories are squeaky clean and entertaining (I suspect more so, if you happen to love horses!). For my part, I particularly enjoyed the illustrations.

My favorite drawings of Anderson's were contained in the story Blaze Finds the Trail. I don't know if it was the particular edition I was looking at or the printing, but the sketches were darker, creating more contrast and making them feel more detailed. I can't tell if he originally illustrated with pencil or pen. (Does someone know the answer to that? I couldn't find it online in any of the places I looked.) What I do know is that it is beautiful work and so I've included some of it below for you to enjoy also.

Here are a list of all of C.W. Anderson's books, including Heads Up, Heels Down (1944) which was a riding guide for young people who had the same ache to sit in a saddle:

And So To Bed (1935)
Billy and Blaze (1936)
Blaze and the Gypsies (1937)
Blaze and the Forest Fire (1938)
Black Bay and Chestnut (1939)
Deep Through the Heart (1940)
Salute! (1940)
High Courage (1941)
Thoroughbreds (1942)
Big Red (1943)
Heads Up, Heels Down (1944)
A Touch of Greatness (1945)
All Thoroughbreds (1948)
Bobcat (1949)
Post Parade (1949)
Blaze Finds the Trail (1950)
Horses Are Folks (1950)
A Pony For Linda (1951)
Horse Show (1951)
Linda and the Indians (1952)
Turf and Blue Grass (1952)
The Crooked Colt (1954)
The Smashers (1954)
Grey, Bay, and Chestnut (1955)
Blaze and the Thunderbolt (1955)
Colts and Champions (1956)
The Horse of Hurricane Hill (1956)
Afraid to Ride (1957)
Pony for Three (1958)
Blaze and the Mountain Lion (1959)
A Filly For Joan (1960)
Lonesome Little Colt (1961)
Complete Book of Horses (1963)
Blaze and the Indian Cave (1964)
The World of Horses (1965)
Before the Bugle (1965)
Great Heat (1965)
Twenty Gallant Horses (1965)
Blaze and the Lost Quarry (1966)
Another Man ‘O War (1966)
C. W. Andersons Horse Stories (1967)
The Outlaw (1967)
Blaze and the Gray Spotted Pony (1968)
Blaze Shows the Way (1969)
The Blind Connemara (1971)

Lastly, here is an interesting article to read by a woman who read the Billy & Blaze series growing up, and happens to own a lithograph of one of Anderson's works.

Again, I think his work is just beautiful. If any of my children grow up with a love for horses, I'll definitely be adding Billy and Blaze to our home collection!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Kisses & Hugs

Grab your little one and cuddle up! By the end of this book, my son was snuggling up close and laughing at the kisses.

Each page spread in Mommy's Best Kisses, by Margaret Anastas displays a different mommy animal giving her baby animal a kiss. From mommy squirrel kissing the baby's hands as they reach towards her face to mommy elephants kissing their baby's noses (or trunks!), this book was too cute. The last page spread, of course, is of a human mommy and baby. The book travels through one day in time, concluding with bedtime kisses.

"I kiss your drowsy eyes as I put you to bed.
I kiss your dear face as I whisper good night.
I blow one last kiss when I turn out the light."
This is a sentimental book the helps you share a message with your children that you love them. It's easy to tell little children how very much you love them. Children are SUCH a huge blessing and a joy in life. I've said it before and I'll say it again that I love books that encourage a loving relationship between parents that firmly establish the fact that children are wanted, welcomed and loved. This book fits the bill.

Of course, sitting right next to this book on our library book shelf is Anastas' book A Hug for You which carries the same affection theme. I didn't like this one quite as much as Mommy's Best Kisses but it does promote the same idea - children are treasures and that's how we ought to think of them!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Miss Nelson

Here's a little fun for your Friday. What do you know about Miss Nelson?

What state boasts that it has Miss Nelson on its teaching roster?
Free polls from Pollhost.com

Extra imaginary bonus points for anyone who remembers Miss Nelson's classroom number or the mean ol' teacher who occassionally serves as a substitute teacher!


Who is Aliki? It is really hard to find good information about her, although she has written an illustrated a slew of children's picture books, including Feelings (featured on Reading Rainbow). (Feelings was in my library stack and I have to confess I didn't care for it all that much.)

My favorite book in the stack by Aliki was My Five Senses which I thought did a FANTASTIC job of explaining the senses and asking children questions to make them really think about sight, smell and the ability to hear. Very nicely done. She takes a concept and made it understandable. Bookworm1 loved this book and we've received repeated requests to read it. This book, btw, is also available in Spanish.

Aliki seems to have written both fiction and non-fiction. She lives in England with her family who, from the back of one of the book jackets, would seem to include a husband named Franz Brandenberg, who is also an author. Aliki herself has illustrated all of her husband's books. The couple apparently had three children. The back of the book jackets all seem to tell you why she wrote that particular book, instead of being informative as to who she is. One book jacket points to a website (www.alikibooks.com) but if you visit the site it redirects you to Harper Collins where it mentions that the Aliki book site as been moved or no longer exists.

Some further exploration turned up the following information about this fascinating author and illustrator:

- She was born in New Jersey while her family was on vacation. (Can you imagine that, mothers?!)

- She was raised in Pennsylvania.

- She loved to draw when she was a girl and so it was no one's surprise when she went to the Philadelphia Museum College of Art to study. Upon graduation from the collge, she took a job at J.C. Penny's, working with the display department.

- Her parents were both Greek so when Aliki was 27 she took six months to travel Europe, hoping to spend time in Greece (immersing herself in her family's heritage/culture) and Italy. It was in Italy that she met her husband, Franz.

- In 1977 the Brandenberg family moved to England where they live still.

- Besides writing, she also teaches and enjoys art and ceramics.

- Her first book was The Story of William Tell and was published in 1960. I can't find any cover art images online but I did find this illustration that purports to be from the book.
(Having not seen this book - as it was not a part of our library's collection - I cannot verify whether this is so.)

- Her most recent book, Quiet in the Garden was published earlier this year (at the time of this post), February, 2009.

What I cannot discover is how many books are created to Aliki. There doesn't seem to be a comprehensive list that dates past 2007. However, 49 years in the publishing industry is not too shabby and she has quite a bit to be proud of, I would think. Our library had a healthy stack of books by Aliki but the one that I did not see and wish to see is the following:

Has anyone else out there read it and have any thoughts they'd like to share about it? Apparently it too is a Reading Rainbow book but I have never had the fortune of bumping into it.
I don't know about you but I rather like the fact that there are few details to know about this author and illustrator. It keeps the focus on the books and it also makes the author all the more interesting. There is a great deal to speculate about. For me, sometimes I think bygone days when people were more private about all the inner workings of their lives is to be missed. Beats out Paris Hilton, et al, who have to make sure we never have enough of them, wouldn't you say?!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Read Aloud Thursday

Read-Aloud Thursday at Hope Is the WordThis week we've been reading through the A section at our library. As such, you'll notice that the things the following books have in common is that all of the last names of the authors end with the letter 'A'. Otherwise, the books are all quite different and unique!

Where Does the Trail Lead?, by Burton Albert reminds me of Prince Edward Island because it just feels so very peaceful and quiet.

In this book we meet an unnamed boy who is exploring the seaside on Summertime Island. He runs past trees, over the sand, and climbs on rocks exploring all of the things that make the seaside such a wonderful place to be.

There are lighthouses, surf waves and sunsets. It's a perfect fieldtrip on a calm and peaceful day. Loved it!

Here a Face, There a Face, by Arlene Alda is definitely unique and promotes a great deal of creativity and imagination. I think this book is brilliant in its simplicity and complex in what it requires of literal children.

Each page spread includes two pictures of everyday objects. On each object, children are encouraged to find a face. Sometimes you can see eyes and noses on tree stumps. You can get the basic idea from the cover art in which, if you use even just a litte bit of imagination, you can see eyes, a nose and a mouth from a sink faucet. As I said, brilliant. I expect we will check this book back out when we're a little older and proceed on a nature walk after we've finished reading through the book to inspire us as we explore the world around us. This book offers solid encouragement to look at old things in new ways. I love it!

Up the Mountain, by Charlotte Agell is a very simple and very charming book about a group of animals that are journeying up a mountainside. The day that they decide to travel up the mountain it turns out to be raining. However, that doesn't stop the animals. They decided to go walking anyway and perhaps get a little wet and a little muddy, but in the end their efforts are rewarded and they have a great time together.

The day turns into night and their explorations are concluded back in their lovely homes with a cup of hot chocolate. A quick and fun read!

Just One More?, by Nancy Markham Alberts is one that I have read before and thought it very cute.

This is the story of a mommy bear who is ushering her little one into bed and the little bear is trying to come up with excuses so as not to have to go to sleep. Can he climb just one more tree? Can he catch one more fish?

Furthermore, this book has a little bit of texture on each page making it a "Soft-to-Touch" book.

In rediscovering this book I also realized that the illustrator of this book is none other than my favorite animal illustrator, John Butler. (I've written about him once or twice over at 5 Minutes for Books.) I LOVE the way John Butler represents animals. Love it, love it! When I first read this book, I didn't know who John Butler was. Do not let the same thing happen to you. Find John Butler books. Read John Butler books. Love them! I sure do . . .

So these were just a few of the books that we read this past week, but they were some of our top favs.

What have you been reading aloud or enjoying this week? We'd love to hear about it! If you leave a link, I'm happy to go visit your site also.

Thanks for joining in with us today!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Here's my silly boy who likes silly books. Looking for a laugh? Check out:

Peanut is the story about a lonely lady name Mildred who finds a stray "cat" to take home. The only problem is that the "cat" belongs to the circus and, well, it's not really a cat. It's much larger than that!

Still reading through the "A" section (by author) at our local library but I've gotten as far as "Al" which, I'd say, is progress. (For one week's time.)

Care to join in on the journey? Grab a button and get goin'!

Reading My Library
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