A children's book blog by Miriam Rainwater

A children's book blog by Miriam Rainwater

"TV. If kids are entertained by two letters, imagine the fun they'll have with twenty-six. Open your child's imagination. Open a book." ~ Author Unknown

Friday, April 29, 2011

Go West, Amelia Bedelia!

Go West, Amelia Bedelia!"Morning," said Uncle Buck.  "You look happier every day.  Do you feel at home on the range?"
"Absolutely," said Amelia Bedelia.  "I can cook on any range, gas or electric."

For sixteen years, Herman Parish has been carrying on the tradition of his aunt, Peggy Parish, by continuing The Adventures of Amelia Bedelia

Published on April 1, 2011 by Greenwillow Books (an imprint of HarperCollins), Go West, Amelia Bedelia! follows the same classic style that readers have delighted in since 1963. 

Although the language is someone antiquated, the watercolor illustrations by Lynn Sweat offer some explanation for what Parish hopes to imply.  I'm labeling this book as a family read-aloud rather than for a particular age group, because while the publisher marked it as a book for ages 5-9, I feel that children that age would not get the jokes without an adults help the first read through. 

Go West, Amelia Bedelia! is a great way to teach your children about homonyms and figures of speech that they may encounter in social situations or cowboy books and movies.

Though not an exhaustive list, here are a couple of examples of concepts that you might need to explain:
On page 9, Amelia Bedelia meets Jake, the ranch foreman and promptly wishes to know where the one, two, and three men are. 
On page 21, Jake describes a horse as being a quarter horse, to which Amelia Bedelia replies, "That horse is worth at least a dollar."
On page 25, Jake says that an outlaw was "tossed in the cooler."  Amelia Bedelia thinks that would be a lovely way to spend such a hot day.
On page 52, Jake tell Amelia Bedelia "Don't look a gift horse in the mouth."  Though she doesn't understand the idiom, Amelia Bedelia agrees with this only because the horse "might have bad breath."

All-in-all, Go West, Amelia Bedelia! follows tradition and makes you chuckle with its dry humor. I laughed even more with the illustrations.  Amelia Bedelia would wear green cowgirl boots decorated with yellow flowers!

What is your favorite Amelia Bedelia book?  Have you ever done anything "Amelia Bedelia-ish"?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Raggedy Ann and Andy: A Read-Aloud Treasury

Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Read-Aloud Treasury
As a child, I often climbed up on the sofa next to my grandmother during story-time with the book,  Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Read-Aloud Treasury by Johnny Gruelle in hand.  I loved the stories about the two rag dolls that lived at Marcella's house.

Ninety years ago a story about a rag doll found in a grandmother's attic captured the hearts of Americans. Through many generations, Raggedy Ann and Andy and their stories have inspired a sense of adventure, friendship, and devotion.

On April 5, 2011, Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Read-Aloud Treasury became available to a whole new generation of readers through Kindle and Simon and Schuster.  The E-book contains ten of the most popular Raggedy Ann and Andy stories and all of the stories' original full-color illustrations.  A library-binding edition is available for those who do not wish to own the book on Kindle.

Some comments about the stories included in this book:
"How Raggedy Ann and Andy Came to Marcella's House": This story combines two original stories into one to set some background.
"The Nursery Dance": In this story, readers see how Raggedy Andy first day and night pass in the nursery with the other dolls.  He is friendly and kind and even comfortable enough in his own skin...er...fabric to invite the others to dance around the nursery with him. Best moral from this story:"You see how easy it is to pass over the little bumps of life if we are happy inside."
"Raggedy Ann Learns a Lesson":  Raggedy Ann is normally very mature and wise, but every once in awhile, she get a mischievous Big Idea.  Like getting in the pantry and making a terrible mess.  In the end, however, Raggedy Ann mends her ways and shares her new-found nugget of wisdom with the other dolls: "We must never take without asking."
"Raggedy Ann and the Painter":  This has long been my favorite Raggedy Ann story, for it is in this story that Raggedy Ann gets her candy heart.  Best moral from this story: Always make amends for what you do that is wrong or foolish.
"Doctor Raggedy Andy": Raggedy Andy to the rescue!  When the French dolls ends up "ill" because of some sticky medicine that Marcela poured into her, leave it to Raggedy Andy to think of a solution.  Some parents may wish to note that Raggedy Andy's solution includes all of the dolls pulling off the French doll's head and washing the sticky medicine out. While it is a doll, this may not be something you wish to encourage.  Otherwise, it is a very cute story about one doll's desire to help his friend.
"Raggedy Ann's Trip on the River" is the perfect sequel to "Raggedy Ann and the Painter."  After a tossle with Fido the dog, Raggedy Ann takes a dip in the river that leaves her with a melted candy heart.  But this is not bad because "happiness is so easy to catch when you love each other and you are sweet through and through."
"The Taffy Pull": Although the dolls get caught up in a crazy raid of the kitchen, again, they learn that it is very rewarding to give.
"Raggedy Ann and the Strange Dolls": Two new dolls, Annebelle and Thomas, come to live in the nursery.  They speak ill of Raggedy Ann, making fun of her looks.  But Raggedy Ann knows that there is so much more to life that that.  Leave it up to Raggedy Ann to perform a deed of kindness in return!
Raggedy Ann's New Sisters": Imagine Raggedy Ann times several hundred and that's what you get in this story.  A man with a silly story about fairies visits Marcela and asks to borrow Raggedy Ann for a week.  He then makes hundreds of dolls that look just like Raggedy Ann, and that is where the dolls your little ones cherish originated.
"The Singing Shell": A present from Marcela's grandmother, the seashell enters the nursery scene. It has an intriguing story to tell as well as a valuable lesson: "Those who are unselfish may wear rough clothes, but inside they are always beautiful, just like the shell, and reflect to others the happiness and sunny music within their own hearts."

What is your favorite Raggedy Ann and Andy story? Did your grandmother introduce you to it?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Finals week and other random notes...

No, I have not disappeared off the face of the earth.  It's just finals time at the college I attend, and I've been super busy.  I'll be back next week, just in time to gear up for the 2011 WordCount Blogathon (http://michellerafter.com/the-2011-wordcount-blogathon)!  I'm excited about this opportunity.
In between studying for my finals, I am sneaking in a few seconds here and there to read a couple of pages from Brave Young Knight, so look for a review of this great book sometime soon!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Little Mouse's Big Secret

Little Mouse's Big Secret"Will you give us a hint?"
"I promise not to tell anyone!"
"Lemme see!"
"Tell me! Ooh me! Me!"
"C'mon, you can trust us." 

Little Mouse might have a big secret, but even more than that, Little Mouse has a big truth!
In Eric Battut's Little Mouse's Big Secret, Little Mouse finds an apple.  But Little Mouse has a mind to be selfish and decides to hide it.  After burying it, Little Mouse stays nearby to protect it.  Each of his friends approach him, asking, "What are you hiding?"  Little Mouse vows to never tell, but a surprise leaves him realizing (with a bit of worry, at first) that his secret is out.  By the end of this simple but charming tale, Mouse learns that sometimes your secrets are even better when you share them. Little Mouse's Big Secret, released on March 1, 2011 by Sterling, will show your children that it is truly better to share and give than to receive and horde.

The only two reasons that I am choosing to give three stars to Little Mouse's Big Secret are because Battut uses so little vocabulary and because sentence structure becomes unnecessarily repetitive towards the middle of the book, failing to challenge the reader's word choice and diction.  Other than that, this is a cute story with a great message.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The LOUD Book!

The Loud Book!"There are different kinds of louds."

So begins a new children's book, The Loud Book! by Deborah Underwood.  The Loud Book!, released on April 4, 2011, is a companion to The Quiet Book, published last year by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

This cute picture book will encourage many good conversations with your children about the different types of loud. Some kinds of loud are good like "the home-run loud," "the applause loud," and "Aunt Tillie's Banjo Band loud," or the "fireworks loud."  Other types of loud aren't as appropriate, such as "the last slurp loud," "the burp during quiet time loud," "the snoring sister loud," and--the one parents will identify most with--"the deafening silence loud."

Renata Liuska's illustrations center around a young stuffed animal rabbit and his friends and take children through the day, from rabbits "alarm clock loud" to "crickets loud." It's definitely a cute book that will become a favorite, but I'm warning you, you may just get a little LOUD when reading this book!

What is your favorite kind of LOUD? 
If you've read The Quiet Book, how do you feel it compares to The Loud Book!?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie

Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie"We sat there together feeling awful.
Then mom said, "Should we make something special for breakfast?... How about pickle juice on a cookie?"  
And I had to smile.
Because that was just ridiculous." 

Eleanor is not happy.  Bibi, her babysitter and best friend, is moving away to Florida.  Natalie, her new babysitter, just isn't the same.  Her other close friend is across the country spending the summer with her grandmother.  And on top of it all, it's August and the next school year is looming over Eleanor.  What will third grade be like?  This was a bad August, as "bad as the black parts of a banana."

Julie Sternberg's Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie, released March 1st, 2011 by Amulet Books, tells the story of one little girl's adventure of learning special things about friendship, herself, and the bittersweet process of growing up.  Along the way, Eleanor learns how to get along with difficult people and how stealing is never worth the bad feeling you get afterward.  She even finds that, although no one can fill Bibi's place, Natalie can be quite an incredible person if Eleanor will give her a chance.

Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie is a perfect book for readers who need the challenge of shorter chapters but a lively script.  Matthew Cordell's black and white cartoons are simple but winsome, and even bring a chuckle here and there.  Though the story line starts off rather sad, it ends on a positive note and represents the valuable lesson that things do not always happen the way we want them to, but the unexpected ways turn out in the end to be best.  Amazing how that is, huh?

What's your favorite memory with a babysitter?

Friday, April 8, 2011

Cars Galore

Cars Galore  "Fun drive, sun drive,
Gotta-run drive!
Dream drive, cool drive,
Someday YOU'LL drive!"
Although your little girls may also enjoy this new release from Candlewick Press, Cars Galore is a perfect book for your little boys.  This book by Peter Stein is full of every kind of car imaginable.  Aside from your typical fast cars, slow cars, tall cars, and short cars, there is the bizarre car, the hundred feet car, the incomplete car, the Noah's Ark car, and the shark car.  Bob Staake's illustrations are vivid and entertaining and send your eyes darting all over the brightly covered pages looking for each type of car the text mentions.  The text of Cars Galore is a poem and contains many wonderful examples of internal rhyme and alliteration to delight readers. It's also a wonderful opportunity to talk about opposites, both the common ones (mean car vs. nice car) and the uncommon ones (sing-along-car vs rock-n-roll car).  Driven by the bouncing verses, many different situations are presented throughout the book that are sure to inspire many conversation between you and your beginning readers about your memories of similar situations.

What's your favorite car from Cars Galore?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Put Me in the Zoo

Put Me in the Zoo
Put Me in the Zoo is a classic "I Can Read It By Myself" book, orginally published in 1960 by Random House.  On March 16, 2011, it was released in Kindle Edition.  Written and illustrated by Robert Lopshire, the book has a lovable Dr. Seuss style; read this book to your pre-school children or give it to your beginning readers and watch them smile as the main character brags about the reasons he should be put in the zoo.  He can put his spots on trees and then back on himself.  He can put the spot on the wall and then make them tall.  He can even make his spots change different colors on his body!  This cute children's story has a unique ending that children will not expect with all of the talk of the zoo. The illustrations are simple but brightly colored and keep children turning the page.  While is not the best "I Can Read" book that I've read (who can beat Dr. Seuss or P.D. Eastman?), Put Me in the Zoo is definitely a book that your young child will want to read more than once.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Phantom Tollbooth

Milo is a typical school-aged boy who can't see the point in "learning to solve useless problems, or subtracting turnips from turnips, or knowing where Ethiopia is or how to spell February." He didn't see the point, that is, until he received a surprise box labeled "ONE GENUINE TURNPIKE TOLLBOOTH." After he decides to take his toy car through the booth, strange yet wonderful things begin to happen.

The Phantom Tollbooth  by Norton Juster was originally published in 1961. Back in January, the children's classic was released in Kindle edition. Children will love the story of Milo and his visit to Dictionopolis, the city where all of the words in the world are homegrown. In that mysterious land, he meets the Whether Man, travels through The Doldrums, and makes friends with a watchdog named Tock (whose body is a huge alarm clock). In the Word Market, Milo receives a greeting from the "Emperor of Phrases, Sentences, and Miscellaneous Figures of Speech" and gets put in jail for jumbling all the words together. In jail, they meet a Which, who sends to rescue the twin Princesses, Rhyme and Reason, from the Mountains of Ignorance.

This book is full of surprises at every turn. First there's the tallest, shortest, fattest, thinnest man. Then there's the Isle of Conclusions, a place you can easily jump to. The book personifies such abstract concepts as statistics, like the half a child that Milo meets who represents the fact that the average family has 2.58 children. And what about the boy that grows down rather than up simply because he chooses to take an unique Point of View?

Some parents may wish to be aware that Demons are mentioned several times in the book, but the Demons turn out to be loathsome creatures that are only pretending to be bad in order to cover up how small and helpless they are against people who don't agree with them. From them, children see how little it pays off to be insincere, afraid, or ignorant and how easily Wisdom conquers Foolishness.

Among the lessons learned from this book include the fact that "people who don't pay attention often get stuck in the doldrums," "time is our most valuable possession," and "you must pick your words very carefully and be sure to say just what you intend to say."

The Phantom Tollbooth is a hilarious satire that can be enjoyed by readers of all ages, including parents. While making them laugh, the book will teach your children rules of grammar and syntax and context as well as statistics and angles and infinity through a crazy tale of one boy's mission to bring Wisdom to the fictitious world beyond the Phantom Tollbooth. After all, "so many things are possible if you just don't know that they are impossible."