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Reading My Library

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Read Aloud Thursday - Jan Brett edition

Read-Aloud Thursday at Hope Is the WordRead Aloud Thursday time over at Hope is in the Word!

Well, as you know, we had a library bag full of Jan Brett titles these past few weeks and so guess what we've spent a lot of time reading? Yeah, you guessed it. (What a smart cookie you are!)

I'm feeling a little lazy today when it comes to typing up descriptions of each title so I've linked it to Amazon and if you are unfamiliar with any particular book, hop on over and read the description. (Cheating, yes. Morning sickness again? Yes!)

Here were some of our favorite titles, and why:

The Umbrella - a story set in Costa Rica. Amazon describes this book as a tropical twist on The Mitten title and that's absolutely correct. Animals gather on the umbrella until a tiny little hummingbird knocks the whole crew into the water. We read this book before reading The Mitten and so I thought this was a pretty cute story. After we read The Mitten I was less impressed with it because it's the same story - a pile up of animals where a little creature causes the whole scheme to fall apart. Other than the artwork, the story lost its unique appeal. (Yes, that's a Jan Brett complaint from me!) Bookworm1, on the other hand, didn't really notice the difference and loved looking at all the animals in the rain forest.

Gingerbread Baby was a favorite of both of ours. We had never read this book before (or any of the titles in this particular post) and so it was a fun treat to discover. Bookworm1 liked it well enough to suggest we add it to our collection. Last week I found a hardback copy of the book for $1.99 which is a steal so I'm glad to have it for us to read again this upcoming holiday season.

The Hat was very clever and we particularly enjoyed looking at the illustrations surrounding the story as we saw clothes disappearing from the wash line. Extremely cute and this title received many a requested re-read. I'm thinking that we'll have to add this one to our home library as well.

Now, the next two titles I was a little surprised to find Bookworm1 enjoying so much. But enjoy them he did! We've never read about trolls and I wasn't sure what he'd think of the illustrations. He was not phased at all and enjoyed the silly little trolls. So apparently I worried for nothing and we enjoyed both Trouble with Trolls and Christmas Trolls.

It should be noted that before bedtime Daddy asked Bookworm1 if he would like to play or read a book and the Christmas Trolls was selected for a reading. IT BEAT OUT PLAYTIME BEFORE BED, FOLKS! I don't think a book can receive a higher recommendation now! =D (I was really rather surprised!)

I did run into some Brett titles that I honestly didn't like but all of the above were enjoyed by us all and so I'm happy to recommend them. But then - guffaw! - it's Jan Brett. She's a talented lady, a really fun story teller and there are plenty of delightful stories to read. So glad that we've had a chance to become better acquainted with her!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Meeting Jan Brett

No, I haven't met Jan Brett. But I know someone who has!

Amy at Hope is in the Word followed the Brett bus and met this author and illustrator when she was on tour for her latest title, The Easter Egg. (Thankfully, this was one of the titles on our library's shelf so I was finally able to read it!)

Amy and her family made a day out of meeting Brett and Hedgie and she shares her story (and a lot of pictures) over at Hope is the Word! It's a really fun post to read and I highly recommend it.

CLICK HERE to read about the Hope is in the Word household experience!

Here is a Penguin Storytime Special in which Jan Brett shares how she drew Hoppy in The Easter Egg:

I love how she kind of talks to her drawing as she explains what she's doing!

Enjoy hearing Amy's story and watching this video today!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Jan Brett

I hardly feel like this author and illustrator needs an introduction around here. Jan Brett is rather widely known for her charming stories and illustrations. She has a style that is uniquely her own and is delightful to both the adult reader and the curious youngster. No doubt you are very familiar with who she is.

Our library had 28 of her titles in stock and so I swooped them up on my last visit. We have spent the last few weeks reading old-to-us Brett titles and reveling in some new discoveries. One thing I have been impressed with is the wide variety of stories she tells and subject matters that she covers. Sure, she hits on the holidays (leaning heavily towards the winter months), but she takes us around the world in story and also tells some timeless fairy tales as well. It's been a lot of fun becoming more familiar with her work across the board.

I'll share our favorite titles later in the week but in the meantime, here are a few good Brett resources if you are looking for something fun to do in conjunction with any number of her books:

Jan Brett's website (listing all of her books)
Jan Brett Coloring Pages (to accompany her stories)
Send an e-postcard with Jan Brett illustrations (just for fun!)
Here are some online Brett Book Character computer games
Download and make your own Brett bookmark
Create a coloring alphabet (Traditional, Cursive and Modern Manuscript all available)
Print your own Christmas Advent Calendar
Create character masks for your children to color and wear as you read Brett books!
Create Town Mouse, Country Mouse finger puppets
Learn How to Draw a Hedgehog
. . . there are hundreds of Jan Brett book activities on her site so browse the list and I'm certain you'll find some way to interact more with the stories and your young readers!
You might also want to check out her collection of How to Draw Videos

There are a plethora of things to do involving Jan Brett books! I'm blown away with how much she has offered up to her young readers online. It's really very impressive!

Enjoy browsing her site and finding a few activities to keep you and yours entertained this fall and winter season!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Playing by the Book Takes a Tour

(Morning sickness has definitely gotten the better of me these past few weeks and I'm moving a little slow around here. I do have a stack of library books that I need to talk about soon because they are just about due so stay tuned. I'm typing stuff up! =)

In the meantime, do go visit Playing by the Book!!! Why!?

Zoe has pieced together an amazing tour of children's literature in the UK and created a couple of posts to help you navigate your way through the UK by way of story.

Here is A Children's Literature Tour of the UK, Part I and A Children's Literature Tour of the UK, Part II. She even created a google map of the tour! This is an incredible amount of work and is completely fascinating!

I'm just dreaming and drooling, folks! She also references a Story Museum that is due to open in Oxford in 2014. I'm making plans! =D

Who wants to go!?

Thanks, Zoe, for your hard work and efforts. I hope to take advantage of the time you've poured into this some day!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Read Aloud Thursday

Read-Aloud Thursday at Hope Is the WordTime again for another Read Aloud Thursday post over at Hope is in the Word and we're feeling random again!

Here are a couple of books we've found to read aloud out of our last library stack:

I don't like worms and bugs, as I've said before, but I did find Winnie Finn, Worm Farmer, by Carol Brendler to be quite a clever introduction to these (admittedly) necessary creatures.

Winnie Finn likes worms. She's crazy about them. But the trouble is that no one else seems to be!

The Quincy County Fair is coming up and Winnie really wants to enter her worms into a competition but there really isn't a prize she can win with her worms. Or is there?

The rest of the story explains how Winnie offers some of her worms to Mr. Abernathy who is raising corn to enter into the fair. His corn, with such excellent fertilizer, ends up winning first place! She also offers some worms to Mrs. Yamasaki-O'Sheridcan who is raising hens. Some worms end up helping to provide shiny coats for some puppies that Mr. Peasley is raising.

As the story explains - worms are useful! Maybe they can't win a prize at the fair all on their own, but first prize ribbons start - with worms! Here is a picture of the inside illustrations, done by Ard Hoyt, to give you a feel for the artwork.

Not all of the pages look like this. Most are traditional full page spread illustrations but this one page just helps you picture the style of artwork.

Next up we read Mr. Tall and Mr. Small, by Barbara Brenner. The cover art you see here is from the 1966 edition - I'm guessing. Our library has a 1994 edition with illustrations by Mike Shenon and the pictures look a little different. The edition that we read is a bit more cartoonish. Unfortunately, I couldn't find a picture of it online to show you the difference.

At any rate, this is a story of an unlikely friendship between a giraffe and a mouse - each of whom think that they are better than the other. They argue back and forth as to who is best until the end of the story when an emergency causes them to realize the beauty and benefits that each of them are in possession of, thanks to their individual sizes. You could definitely read this as a political statement, if you are focused on the 1994 new edition. However, I kinda think it's just a cute story of two animals realizing that each of them have been created uniquely beautiful.

I'd be very curious to see a copy of the 1966 edition but we did enjoy the book that we found.

Lastly, given the fact that we enjoyed Franklin the Turtle so much, I checked out the library's copy of Franklin and the Baby (different from Franklin's Baby Sister) which is "based on the characters created by Paulette Bourgeois and Brenda Clark." This story has more to do with the television series and the illustrations definitely look like a cartoon. However, it's still Franklin and it's still a subject matter that is rather near and dear to our hearts at the moment! Bookworm1 enjoyed it thoroughly and I gave up counting how many times we read it. I'm definitely looking to add some Franklin stories to our home library because they go over so well with Bookworm1 and, I confess, I rather enjoy them myself!

So that's what we read this week. What about you? I hope you'll consider sharing as part of the Read Aloud Thursday challenge over at Hope is in the Word!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Celebrating the Seasons

I thought these two books were unique and definitely worth a mention! Written by Linda Crotta Brennan and illustrated by Mari Takabayashi, each one focuses on the warm comfort of family during various seasons.

Each one is told in short sentence rhymes - which isn't typically a favorite form of story telling for me, I do confess. However, I like the sentiment of each book enough to roll with it.

Marshmallow Kisses talks about life in the summer time.

"Sun sings.
Wings fan.
Swing on porch
with toast and jam."

Each illustration focuses on some part of summer - from lazy days at the beach to picnics under large trees. You just feel lazy and warm all over as you flip through this book. It concludes with:

"Neighbors visit
into the night.
Marshmallow kisses
by firefly light."
Flannel Kisses takes place during - you guessed it! - the winter months.

"Flannel sheets,
Cold floor,
Hot oatmeal,
Out the door!"

Whereupon the children dash out into the snow in snowsuits and sticky snow. There are snowball fights and they build snowmen. They come inside and eat warm soup.

"Fireside story,
Say good night,
Flannel kisses
By pale starlight."

As I said, I think these books are both sentimental and capture the feelings you have as you celebrate the various seasons. I cannot find any evidence online of their being any additional titles in this series so I am supposing it was concluded with these two books. I'm sorry not to see a book for Spring and Fall but I'm delighted we were able to read the two books mentioned above.

If you are looking for something short, sweet and perfectly cozy to read while discussing seasons - add these to your list!

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Perfect Pony, by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

I feel it a certain duty to mention any horse books that I come across that are particularly cute or interesting. As I've mentioned before, I seem to be surrounded by horse-lovin' friends and family.

I never know if I'm mentioning a book that they already know about but sometimes I can surprise them! =) I don't know if The Perfect Pony is a surprise, but it certainly is a treat for any girl who dreams of owning her own pony.

The book opens with the following sentence, which is one that I know my friends could identify with:

"Mom says that pony was my first word."

This young girl's brother has a pony and she grew up learning how to ride on it. However, she has always dreamed of owning her very own pony - literally. She dreamed "He would be sleek and shiny,the color of toffee apples. Or he might be white, with sooty eyes and a delicate nose." Finally, her mother told her that the time had come for them to find a perfect pony for her. Oh what joy! What rapturous bliss! (Ok, I'll try not to overdo it here.)

Naturally, in the end, she does find the perfect pony for her. And so another young girl's horse dreams are fulfilled.

So on second thought - maybe you wouldn't want to encourage your daughter with this book? Unless, of course, you intend to back it up with an actual pony!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Read Aloud Thursday

Read-Aloud Thursday at Hope Is the WordTime again for another Read Aloud Thursday post over at Hope is in the Word! And, well, I'm just BEHIND, that's what!

I went to the library last week and have had a whole stack of books to go through this week, but haven't managed to type anything up yet! That's mostly because of a little something called morning sickness, and my desire to move as little as possible (no small fete with two toddler boys running around!) So I may move around a bit slower here but I'm still checking out books from the library. Here are a couple that we read this week:

Little Pig Figwort Can't Get to Sleep, by Henrietta Branford was an instant hit with Bookworm1. We read it several times straight through upon cracking the book open. This is a fun book about Little Pig Figwort (a fun name to say, really!) who, well, can't go to sleep. He tries to fall asleep along with the rest of his brothers and sisters, but the problem is that he just has too much energy for some new adventures. So he takes a trip in a submarine down to the bottom of the ocean. He goes on a trip to the North Pole and travels in a space ship and visits the moon! Of course, he is taking trips courtesy of his imagination but the lines in the book are blurred a little as to what is fact or fiction which is why, I think, Bookworm1 enjoyed this book so much. In his mind, I'm pretty sure Little Pig Figwort actually went on all of these adventures and so we read about them again and again!

Cute book. Love the title, the story and the crazy fun illustrations by Claudio Munoz.

Bookworm2 requested several readings of Meeow and the little chairs, by Sebastien Braun. This book is a winner in my one year old's eyes for the following reasons:

a.) Bold colors, simplistic drawings; and
b.) Simple sentences.

(Bookworm2 might be into books now, but if we can keep things short and sweet they are all that much better!)

Meeow and the little chairs is helpful in learning colors. Meeow has several animal friends who are each carrying a different color chair. The animals line their chairs up all together. What are they building? A "Choo choo!" We like saying, "choo! choo!" around here so that might be the very reason for our love of this book.

At any rate - it is simplistic, cute and it holds our attention well. I hadn't ever heard of Meeow before and I only found this one title at our library. A quick glance on Amazon proves that there are more in the series, but for now, this is the one we have been able to enjoy.

Hopefully I'll get my act together and will be able to sit up and talk about some of these other books that I have sitting here. I had a fun stack and I'm eager to get through them because I'm excited about the author coming up next!

Any guesses as to who it might be? I'll give you a hint: I'm in the Br's.