Archive | November 2012

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Ten, Nine, Eight

Perfect Picture Book Fridays are the creation of the lovely children’s book author Susanna Leonard Hill. Check in each week on Fridays for new book reviews. Susanna also has a complete list (alphabetically and by theme) of all the book reviews. It’s a wonderful resource if you’re looking for activities for a book, or books focused on a particular theme.

This is the fourth in my series reviewing books for babies and very young children.

Title: Ten, Nine, Eight

Author/Illustrator: Molly Bang

Publisher: Tupelo Books/Greenwillow

Year: 1983  (board book published 1996)

Genre: Board book/picture book

Ages: Infant-5

Themes: Bedtime; counting; father/daughter relationship

Opening: 

10 small toes all washed and warm.

9 soft friends in a quiet room.

Synopsis: (from Publishers Weekly) “This beguiling picture book, with a palette of eye-filling colors, appears to arise naturally from the love binding a father and his little “big” girl who turn bedtime into playtime with a rhyming game.”

What makes it great: The gentle rhyming text and depiction of an African-American father and daughter make this bedtime counting story stand out.

What readers notice: Like all great illustrators, Molly Bang has woven a ‘hidden’ story into the pictures — a missing shoe that children notice early in the book and later discover was taken by a playful kitty.

What a writer notices: The word choices and setting emphasize the quiet and calm of this story. Some of the words used:

small, warm (spread 1)

soft, quiet (spread 2)

falling snow (spread 3 – a glimpse outside gives us a heightened sense of the warmth in the room)

in spreads 4-5, the repetition of ‘s’ and ‘sh’ sounds (words like: shoes, short, straight, seashells)

sleepy eyes (spread 6)

loving kisses (spread 7)

fuzzy bear (spread 8)

When the story arrives at the last spread (“1 big girl all ready for bed”) I’m ready to climb into bed, too!

Activities/Links to Resources: 

Classroom lessons focusing on Ten, Nine, Eight and other books

http://curry.virginia.edu/go/wil/Ten_Nine_Lesson.pdf

Math Activities related to Ten, Nine, Eight

http://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/hslc/tta-system/teaching/eecd/curriculum/planning/findingmathbooksnumboper_3_10_08_final.pdf

Molly Bang’s website, including a story of how Ten, Nine, Eight grew from a story she wrote for her daughter:

http://www.mollybang.com/Pages/tennine.html

Library Harvest – 11/28/12

It was nice to get back to the library yesterday after being so busy in the weeks leading up to and around Thanksgiving. I can’t wait to read THE MONSTER WHO LOST HIS MEAN which I found during my usual raid of the New Books shelf. I also flipped through THE BUSY BEAVER and it looks hilarious. My 7-year-old grabbed a new LUNCH LADY book and HEDGIE BLASTS OFF which he said he read in first grade and wanted to read again.

What are you reading lately?

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

Perfect Picture Book Fridays are the creation of the lovely children’s book author Susanna Leonard Hill. Check in each week on Fridays for new book reviews. Susanna also has a complete list (alphabetically and by theme) of all the book reviews. It’s a wonderful resource if you’re looking for activities for a book, or books focused on a particular theme.

This is the third in my series reviewing books for babies and very young children. This book was given to me as a baby shower gift, and I love passing it along.

Title: Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

Author/Illustrator: Bill Martin, Jr./Eric Carle

Publisher: Henry Holt

Year: 1967 (first version), 1983; 1996 (board book edition)

Genre: Board book/picture book

Ages: Infant-5

Themes: Animals; colors

Opening: Brown bear, brown bear, what do you see? I see a red bird looking at me.

Red bird, red bird, what do you see? I see a yellow duck looking at me.

Synopsis: (from publisher’s website) A big happy frog, a plump purple cat, a handsome blue horse, and a soft yellow duck– all parade across the pages of this delightful book. Children will immediately respond to Eric Carle’s flat, boldly colored collages. Combined with Bill Martin’s singsong text, they create unforgettable images of these endearing animals.

What makes it great: The lyrical text and signature collage illustrations in vivid, arresting colors by Eric Carle have clearly been delighting children for decades.

What readers notice: The high contrast animals in vivid colors on white backgrounds are perfect for even the smallest babies to be able to see. Both my kids loved this book from infancy, and I remember my daughter at 6 or 7 months would kick vigorously when we got to the page with the purple cat. She still loves purple!

What a writer notices: The simplicity of the rhyming and repetitive text makes it easy for kids to follow along, enjoy, and remember. And even in a story this simple, there’s a “twist” at the end, when after listing a bear, bird, duck, horse, frog, cat, dog, sheep, and goldfish, a page turn reveals a teacher, and then a group of children.

Activities/Links to Resources: 

With toddlers who know the story you can do a simple prediction activity by letting them say what will appear on the next page. And you can always get a laugh by saying the wrong animal name (e.g. say “pink bunny rabbit” when the page actually shows the green frog).

Activity Guide from the publisher

http://media.us.macmillan.com/activityguides/9780805047905AG.pdf

Eric Carle on Mr. Rogers

In a combination that’s, in my mind, even better than chocolate and peanut butter, this episode of Mr. Rogers shows a visit to Eric Carle’s studio where he demonstrates how he makes his illustrations, and then reads From Head to Toe.

http://pbskids.org/rogers/videos/index.html?pid=2DSAGhehLBrC7aU7WSwvnbU0NwY_CfMA

A Pinterest board with lots of links to Brown Bear activities

http://pinterest.com/mamajoyx9/book-activities-brown-bear-brown-bear/

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Jamberry

Perfect Picture Book Fridays are the creation of the lovely children’s book author Susanna Leonard Hill. Check in each week on Fridays for new book reviews. Susanna also has a complete list (alphabetically and by theme) of all the book reviews. It’s a wonderful resource if you’re looking for activities for a book, or books focused on a particular theme.

This is the second in my series reviewing books for very young children and babies. Our own copy of JAMBERRY by Bruce Degen is dog-eared but still going strong. Enjoy!

Title: Jamberry

Author/Illustrator: Bruce Degen

Publisher: HarperFestival

Year: 1983 (board book published 1995)

Genre: Board book/picture book

Ages: Infant-5

Themes: Adventure; Language Fun

Opening: 

One berry/Two berry/Pick me a blueberry

Hatberry/Shoeberry/In my canoeberry

Under the bridge/And over the dam/Looking for berries/Berries for jam

Synopsis: (from publisher’s website) They’re off…a boy and an endearing, rhyme-spouting bear, who squires him through a fantastic world of berries. And their adventure comes to a razzamatazz finale under a starberry sky.

Children will want to feast again and again on Bruce Degen’s exuberant, colorful pictures and his rollicking, berryful rhymes.

What makes it great: The exuberant, playful, and inventive use of language, plus the richly detailed illustrations where you can always find something new to look at make this a delight to read over and over (and over and over).

What readers notice: My children always loved the moment when the bear and the boy tip their canoe down a waterfall of blueberries (a wordless spread) as well as the end, where the boy and bear end up buried in a mountain of berries.

What a writer notices: This story is really just a romp, but even still there is a clear purpose stated at the beginning (the characters are “Looking for berries/Berries for jam”) which is achieved at the end (“Mountains and fountains/Rain down on me/Buried in berries/What a jam jamboree!”). In this way, the author achieves a change in the characters from the start to the end of the story.

I also admire how he managed shift the lilt and rhythms of his text so that each section achieves a different feel, appropriate to the illustrations. For example, one section shows a train passing through a blackberry patch, and the text takes on the rhythm of a train:

Quickberry!/Quackberry!/Pick me a blackberry!

Trainberry/Trackberry/Clickety-clackberry

In the next section, the text swings and rolls just like the brass band shown in the illustration:

Raspberry/Jazzberry/Razzamatazzberry

Berryband/Merryband/Jamming in berryland

It’s subtle, but all adds to the delight of this story.

Activities/Links to Resources: 

Counting, art, movement, and food-related activities: http://www.brighthubeducation.com/preschool-lesson-plans/66738-jamberry-book-activities-and-lesson-plan/

Art, cooking, movement, and science activities: http://www.gryphonhouse.com/activities/activityDetail.asp?ID=109&CatID=5

A recipe. I didn’t make it, but it looks delicious! http://offtheshelf.typepad.com/off-the-shelf/2012/06/whole-wheat-jamberry-crumble-bars.html%20

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Hush Little Baby

Perfect Picture Book Fridays are the creation of the lovely children’s book author Susanna Leonard Hill. Check in each week on Fridays for new book reviews. Susanna also has a complete list (alphabetically and by theme) of all the book reviews. It’s a wonderful resource if you’re looking for activities for a book, or books focused on a particular theme.

Recently, someone was asking me to recommend some books for a baby shower gift. How often have you been to a shower where the mother-to-be opened up copy after copy of Goodnight Moon and Pat the Bunny? These are wonderful books and every baby should have a copy, but there are so many other great books for babies out there. We’ve discovered many along the way and I now often give these as baby shower gifts. For the next few weeks, I plan to focus my reviews on board books (and board book editions of picture books) that my children loved as babies.

Title: Hush Little Baby

Author/Illustrator: Sylvia Long

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Year: 1997 (board book published 2002)

Genre: Board book/picture book

Ages: Infant-5

Themes: Natural world; bedtime; mother/child

Opening: Hush little baby, don’t say a word, Mama’s going to show you a hummingbird.
 If that hummingbird should fly, 
Mama’s going to show you the evening sky.

Synopsis: (from publisher’s website) From award-winning artist Sylvia Long comes a touching version of the well-known lullaby, Hush Little Baby. Each spread reveals a tender scene as a mama bunny lulls her baby bunny to sleep by enlisting a parade of bedtime wonders—the beauty of a hummingbird in flight; the magic of a harvest moon; the reassurance of a parent’s hug, all these and more combine to create a classic volume sure to be treasured for generations to come.

What makes it great: I’m going to share the author’s note from Sylvia Long which appears at the back of the book, because she says much better than I could what makes this book wonderful.

As much as I love being an artist, my favorite and most important profession has been being a mother. I sang and read to my children just as my mother sang and read to me. One of the songs that has bothered me as an adult is the original version of “Hush Little Baby. “ In it, a mama offers her baby comfort by promising to buy him or her all sorts of things (a mockingbird, a diamond ring, horse and cart, etc.) It seems much healthier to encourage children to find comfort in the natural things around them and the warmth of a mother’s love. This belief was my inspiration for a new version, which I hope you will enjoy as much as I enjoyed creating it.

What readers notice: Besides enjoying the song, my kids loved looking at the patchwork quilt on the baby bunny’s bed in this book because it has pictures/symbols of all the things mentioned in the song.

What a writer notices: I admire how Sylvia long took a song that everyone knows, and created a version that is so much better (in my opinion) than the original. Within the framework of the original song, she wove several strands: it’s a bedtime book, and a book with a focus on the natural world, as the mama and baby explore the outdoors and get ready for bedtime. These interwoven strands make it feel like a connected story, not just a random collection of things that have no relationship to each other, as in the traditional song.

Activities/Links to Resources: 

For young babies, a great activity with this song is to add your own verses with language they can learn and understand. Hush little baby, don’t say a word, Mama’s going to show you a kitty cat.
 If that kitty cat runs away, 
Mama’s going to show you your favorite ball. No, it doesn’t rhyme, but it still plays with words in a way that helps an infant developing language.

Older babies and toddlers might enjoy an exploration of the outdoors in the evening, as the mama and baby in the book do. Do you hear a cricket and see the moon like the baby in the book. What other things do you see and hear outside?

Interview with Sylvia Long

http://babybugmag.wordpress.com/2012/02/02/meet-this-months-cover-artist-sylvia-long/