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, July 29, 2011

Zoomer's Summer Snowstorm

Zoomer's Summer SnowstormTitle: Zoomer's Summer Snowstorm
Author/Illustrator: Ned Young
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: May 10, 2011

Zoomer's Summer Snowstorm was a great book for me to find on a day that is in supposed to be 95 degrees Fahrenheit and very humid here in the Peach State.  I only wish I could have as much imagination as Zoomer does!

What starts out as a small snowcone ends up an entire empire called Zoomartica plus an amusement park.  Zoomer and his family are soon enjoying hot chocolate and chili in the middle of the hot summer.

Ned Young's illustration are impressively detailed. All of Zoomer's snow sculptures look real.  All but two of the pages (that show Zoomer inside the house) include a monarch butterfly that is fun to find.  Painting with rich colors allows Ned Young to transform the silly into the spectacular.  I dare say they will make you (as the parent) laugh, too.

One specifically positive element is that Zoomer is careful to clean up after his play without his mother needing to tell him to.

So put on your mittens, grab a cup of hot cocoa, and curl up with Zoomer's Summer Snowstorm.

What's your favorite game to play in the snow?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Detective Blue

Detective BlueTitle: Detective Blue
Author: Steve Metzger
Illustrator: Tedd Arnold
Publisher: Orchard Books
Publication Date: July 1, 2011

I love books that take the nursery rhyme characters and re-mix them into a innovative new story, so much in fact that I hope that I will be able to do so successfully one day. 

Detective Blue explains the life of Little Boy Blue all grown up.  He's now a detective and he has a most difficult case to solve.  What happened to Miss Muffet?  She's missing! 

Detective Blue makes his way through the case and comic-book-style illustrations to discover something quite new about Miss Muffet that is sure to surprise all readers. What if she has a double identity?  Could you guess what other nursery rhyme character she might be? 

The only possible negative element about this tale is that some of the jokes are more aimed at an older age group, much like some the cartoons of today.  For example, Detective Blue refers to Humpty Dumpty as "a good egg."  Other than little things like this that young children might not pick up on, this is a fun read. 

Detective Blue has few words so it would also be great for older readers who might be struggling with reading.  It would be enough like a graphic novel or comic strip to keep their attention but still have simple words.

Make sure you pay attention to Tedd Arnold's illustrations, though!  There are many clues to the mystery hidden in them!

What is your favorite adaption of nursery rhymes? Why?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Wiener Wolf

Wiener Wolf Title: Wiener Wolf
Author/Illustrator: Jeff Crosby
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Publication Date: July 5, 2011

I have not had a picture book make me laugh as much as this one did for a long time. 

Wiener Wolf could be a word-less picture book and still be hilarious.  But it does have words, and they make it even better!

Wiener Dog has found life with Granny to be a bit lame.  Kind of like we all find life sometimes.  But then he sees a television program about wolves and decides that they have the life. Off he goes to the nearest State Park to join a wolf pack.  But is the forest on the other side of the TV really greener?

The illustrations in Wiener Wolf are vivid and exaggerated.  Weiner Dog has a great variety of expressions, and readers can tell that the author/illustrator Jeff Crosby has spent a good bit of his life with his own wiener dogs, Baron and Fritz. 

Though a bit unrealistic when it comes to a wiener dog living with a pack of wolves and not being eaten, Wiener Wolf holds great lessons about contentment, friendship, and love.

Have you had a time where the "other side of the fence" looked better? How did you learn otherwise?

Friday, July 22, 2011

The World CHAMPION of Staying Awake

The World Champion of Staying AwakeTitle: The World Champion of Staying Awake
Author: Sean Taylor
Illustrator: Jimmy Liao
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Publication Date: June 28, 2011

When I saw a new release on the kids' shelf at Barnes and Noble from Candlewick Press, I had to check it out.  I love Candlewick, and their books have proven to be some of my favorites over these past few months. 

The World Champion of Staying Awake definitely met my expectations.  This delightful picture book combines a prose narrative with a bit of poetry.  The mix of genres is uncommon in children's literature today, especially done well, but author Sean Taylor has created a lovely multi-genre tale. 

Stella is having a problem.  When Daddy says that it's time to go to bed, Stella cannot sleep.  Who could sleep if they had Thunderbolt the Mouse, Beanbag Frog, or Cherry Pig to get to sleep first? 

Stella will just have to outsmart them--with poetry!  Only Stella could make a pillow a ship, a shoe box a train, and a toy basket a hot air balloon headed for the land of sleep.  Will ANYONE be The World Champion of Staying Awake or will Stella trick them all?

Jimmy Liao's bright and textured illustrations capture the mischievous and cleaver actions of one little girl.  Children will love how her bedroom can be transformed into so many different worlds.

This is a great book to read to your youngsters the next time they are trying to be The World Champion of Staying Awake; you might just be able to use it to fool them, too! And for helping you do that, I'm sure that you'd give it five stars!

Have your children ever been world champions for staying awake? What did you do?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Mr. Popper's Penguins GIVEAWAY!

Because, overall, Mr. Popper's Penguins is such a great book....

The Twenty-Six Letter Imagination is holding a giveaway!

Mr. Popper's Penguins
by Richard and Florence Atwater
Originally Released in 1938
From Little, Brown and Company
See the book review HERE.

Giveaway Rules:
1. You must be (or become) a follower (either on Google, Twitter, or Facebook) to enter.
2. You must comment below to receive one (1) entry.
3. The giveaway will close on Saturday, July 30th, 2011 at 5 pm. EST.
4.. Winner will be randomly chosen.
5. Winner will be announced on the blog and will have one week to provide a mailing address before the book is given away to a different winner.
 6. Residents of the U.S. only, please.
In order to receive extra entries and increase your chance of winning, you may consider the following...

* You may receive one (1) additional entry for posting a link to this giveaway on Twitter using the hashtag #26letterpenguins or tagging @26letterblog
* You may receive one (1) additional entry for posting a link to this blog on Facebook, as long as you tag "The Twenty-Six Letter Imagination: A Children's Book Blog" group page.
* You may receive (5) additional entries by posting about this giveaway on your own blog and providing me the link to your blog entry in your comment below.

Which is your favorite penguin from Mr. Popper's Penguins?

Note: I have been informed that Blogger is giving people trouble when they try to comment on this post using their openID, LiveJournalID or URL.  I'm sorry for the inconvenience.  Please still post using your Blogger name, your personal name, or as anonymous (if posting as anonymous, give me some way in your comment to identify you if you win). Thanks!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Mr. Popper's Penguins

Mr. Popper's PenguinsTitle: Mr. Popper's Penguins
Author: Richard and Florence Atwater
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication Date: (Originally published in 1938)

There's been a lot of discussion about Mr. Popper's Penguins and the new movie with the same name in the past few weeks.  Let me just preface this review by saying that the book is NOTHING like the movie.  At all.  Pretty much the only aspect that they share is the fact the main character gets a penguin.

Unlike the selfish, haughty character that appears in the movie, the Mr. Popper of the original book is a selfless and kind family man who daydreams of traveling and loves everything exploration.  He has a wife and two kids (whom he loves dearly), and they live in the days-gone-by in a modest house on Proudfoot Ave.

And then one day out of the blue, Mr. Popper—the humble painter—becomes the most popular man in the small town of Stillwater.  However, the reason behind his popularity has nothing whatsoever to do with his own merit or personal gain.  His favorite Antarctic explorer, Admiral Drake, sends him a surprise in response to a fan letter.  The surprise turns out to be life-altering—the Popper family soon has snow all over their house and a large freezing plant installed in the cellar--not to mention twelve additions to their family of four!  But Mr. Popper’s unique visitors could not have come at a more opportune time; the Poppers are in financial trouble and his friends can save the day.

Positive elements:
The Popper family is always respectful of each other in their conversation. Family values are also held in high-esteem--something that the literature of this day could use a heftier amount of. The penguins are trained to be polite.  Despite the fame that his penguins give him, Mr. Popper remains humble and seeks to only do what is best for the penguins instead of seeking his personal monetary gain. Flexibility and patience abound. Admiral Drake gives of himself to help Mr. Popper in a time of need. The text is easy to read and well-composed, showing rather than telling; the book won the Newberry Honor Award in 1939 for its excellent literary quality.  The characterizations of the individual penguins are specific and funny despite the fact that the authors could not use dialog to make them so.  The authors present even adult-like concepts (such as the Popper's money problems) with grace and clarity such that even children will be able to sympathize with them and find joy in the solution.

Negative elements:
Typical of the day in which the book was written, Mr. Popper smokes a cigar while reading the paper.  The conclusion seems a short and a bit stiff compared to the rest of the manuscript (but still brings a smile and satisfaction). 

Otherwise, Mr. Popper's Penguins is an excellent example of the a well-composed children's book (that could also serve as a great family read-aloud), and it receives five stars from me!

How do you feel about the differences between the movie and the book?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Apple Pie ABC

Apple Pie ABCTitle: Apple Pie ABC
Author: Alison Murray
Publisher: Disney Hyperion Books
Publication Date: May 31, 2011

Although I am not generally a fan of ABC books, this one caught my eye because of my love for apple pie.

When an apple pie is hot and fresh out of the oven, one little pup is determined to:
Find a crumb of it,
Get a taste of it and 
Have a lick of it.

Progessing through the alphabet, author Alison Murray tells a story that makes you hungry, too.  Can this puppy get his paws on that wonderful smell?

The two letters that might require a little more explanation are O and P.  The pup Ogles and Pines for the apple pie.  These words are not typically a part of the vocabulary of a child who is learning their alphabet.  Q and X, two often-stretched letters in books like this one, were handled nicely. However, Z uses sleep as it's example, and I did personally dislike this.  

Other than these small issues, Apple Pie ABC is a delicious introduction to the alphabet.

Who makes your favorite apple pie?

Monday, July 4, 2011

Hopper and Wilson

Hopper and WilsonTitle: Hopper and Wilson
Author: Maria van Lieshout
Publisher: Philomel Books (a division of Penguin Young Readers)
Release Date: May 12, 2011

Have you ever wondered what it might be like at the End of the World across the ocean?  Hopper the Elephant and Wilson the Mouse are sure that it is a perfectly lovely place.  Wilson is sure that there is an endless supply of lemonade and Hopper decides that there must be a staircase to the moon so he can touch it.

Hopper and Wilson is a story of friendship and reunion.  When Hopper gets lost in a storm on the sea, Wilson wonders whether he will ever see his friend again.  None of the sea creatures have seen him.  And what if they never reach the end of the world, after all?

The conclusion of Hopper and Wilson will delight readers.  I chuckled a bit as an adult.  Reaching the end of the world helps these two friends understand the true meaning of home: a place filled with those who love and know us best.

Friday, July 1, 2011

A few questions

My apologies, but I have not yet finished reading the "Less-Than-A-Dollar Friday" book.  Instead of that this week, I'd like to pose a few questions to you.  I would like some feedback about the blog and the books I've been reviewing so that I know how to better serve you, the parents that follow me.

How old are your children?
What are their favorite genres?
When you think of this blog, do you come here for reviews of fiction, or would you like to see reviews of nonfiction as well?

Is there any reason that you would not recommend my blog to another parent?
Any other comments/concerns/questions?