Monday, July 27, 2015
Alas, I write to let you know that I will be away from my blog due to our family vacation. The honey and I are desperately needing some R & R. So we are taking a few days of time to just chill. I will not be blogging about great books for kids, though I may find some on my travels. I will miss you!
Meanwhile, the above picture is a mystery of sorts. See if you can figure out where I took that photo on a former vacation. Let me know what you think.
Wait for me, I'll be back!
Friday, July 24, 2015
My Little Round House
by Bolormaa Baasansuren
adapted by Helen Mixter
(Groundwood Books, House of Anansi Press, 2006/2009)
My Little Round House is the story of a young boy who was born in Mongolia. Jilu lived in a nomadic community that traveled to new places in the different seasons.
Little Jilu remembers his first round house - his mothers' stomach. After he was convinced to come out by his father, Jilu begins to appreciate the round house of his family, or ger, with its round circle of sky blue in the roof. The story of Jilu and his round ger is enchanting as it weaves the seasons of life in pictures and words. Baby lambs lived in the ger to be fed by Jilu and his grandmother. Spring brought dumplings and fermented milk for meals and warmth after winter snows.
Reading My Little Round House made me want to live in a ger!
Summer, autumn, winter, spring, and summer again bring Jilu to his birthday. Jilu plays with animals and friends, running free in the summer green grass. Jilu loves the blue sky overhead, which reminds him of the sky blue circle in the roof of his ger, his home.
My Little Round House shows a different life than the one we are accustomed to in America. Readers will be enthralled to see how a small boy in a different country lives his life in a ger.
Make a Round Home
Materials: sticks, rocks, fabric scraps, string, tape, toy people figures
Look at the pictures of the ger to see how it is shaped and formed. Use the sticks to make a round structure, anchoring the sticks in the dirt to make them stable. Rocks, tape, and string can help hold your ger together. Cover the ger with fabric pieces. Let your toy people figures live in the ger. Add toy animals and other natural materials to your community.
Did you make a circle in the ger rooftop? Is there a door? What do you like about a round ger? Would you like to live there? Why?
***I have the hardest time trying to get good pictures of the library books that are covered in plastic! I apologize for the quality of photos, but I do want you to be able to see the cover.
Wednesday, July 22, 2015
The Baker's Dozen, A Counting Book
by Dan Andreasen
(Henry Holt and Company, 2007)
Everyone knows how many treats are in a baker's dozen, right?
Maybe not. It is sort of wacky that a dozen equals 13 when it is used to describe baked goods. Of course, I would love one more bakery treat than 12 when I purchase a baker's dozen - oh, let's say of donuts or cupcakes or brownies or anything full of calories and flavor!
The Baker's Dozen, A Counting Book, is full of examples of delicious bakery chef created delectables. Each page gives descriptive vocabulary words for special desserts and places the number of goods on that page in a prominent location. Every illustration shows the baker performing a baker's task as he prepares yummy mouthfuls of joy.
Food is important to me and desserts are special treats. Readers who appreciate baked goods and young children who are learning about numbers will enjoy counting their way through The Baker's Dozen, A Counting Book.
What is a Baker's Dozen?
Materials: egg carton, variety of counting objects
Help your child place one item in each egg section of a carton. Count the objects together. Trade objects and count something else. Discuss that 12 is called a dozen, but in the baking world a baker's dozen is 13.
Help your child figure out how to put 13 things in the carton and count them.
Play a counting game. Ask your child to close his eyes. Place either 12 or 13 objects in the carton. Tell your child to count the objects and tell you if it is a dozen or a baker's dozen. Repeat the game again and make sure you take a turn closing your eyes!
After you are done, go to the bakery and buy a baker's dozen of a special treat to share for dessert. Your child will surely remember baker's dozen after that!
Tuesday, July 21, 2015
by C. Roger Mader
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014)
TipTop Cat combines two of my favorite things - cats and Paris.
Mr. TipTop cat was the very best birthday present. He liked his new home, especially the balcony where he could go and climb up to the rooftops. From there, this beautiful black and white cat could survey his domain - the entire world.
Except for that one day, the day when a pigeon landed on his balcony. What else could he do but attack that intruder? Disastrous results left kitty with a broken spirit but no broken bones. A surprise inspiration helped Mr. TipTop cat reclaim his throne on the top of the world (of Paris).
Cat lovers and readers who love adventure will enjoy TipTop Cat.
Up, Up, Up
Draw a Cat on Top of a Building
1. Gather paper and pencils.
2. Draw a large rectangle at the bottom of the paper to make a building. You can add windows and doors if you want.
3. To draw a cat, start first by drawing a large circle on top of the building roof. This is the cat body. Attach a smaller circle to the top for the cat head. Draw 2 small pointy triangle ears on the head.
4. Cats have 4 legs with paws and claws at the ends. They also have a long moving tail. Add legs, claws, paws, and tail to the large circle body.
5. Add eyes, nose, and whiskers to the smaller circle head.
6. What color do you want your cat? Color your tiptop cat and give it a name.
My two gray kitties love to be up on top of the world. The highest place inside the house they enjoy is on top of a tall, almost to the ceiling, fancy hutch that is filled with pretty glass dishes. Outside, they both try to sneak up on top of the roof of the house!
Where is the highest place you have seen a cat?
Monday, July 20, 2015
by Lela Nargi
pictures by Kyrsten Brooker
(Schwartz & Wade Books, 2011)
If you are like me and are concerned about the plight of honeybees, you will want to read Honeybee Man.
Fred lives in Brooklyn like so many other people. What is different about Fred is that he has three bee colonies (and hives) on the top of his home. All summer long, Fred visits, talks to, and watches his bees zoom to and fro, searching for flowering plants from which to drink nectar. When the hives are full, Fred harvests honey from the top of each hive and fills jars with the beautiful results of the work done by the sister bees.
Honeybee Man is a story about a man who loves his bees and the honey they make. But it is also a tale of bees and tells who lives in the hives, the jobs of each type of bee, the life cycle of bees, and the tasty treat that is found inside each hive. Readers will learn much about bees and how they create honey.
By the end of the book, you will definitely have to go have a peanut butter and honey sandwich or a cup of tea with honey.
Materials: flowering plants and magnifying glasses
1. If you do not have any flowers in your yard, honeybees will love it if you plant some! Flowers attract honeybees. In my yard, lavender, thyme, sunflowers, squash and zucchini, raspberries, and strawberry plants have flowers that the honeybees love to visit.
2. Holding a magnifying glass, slowly and calmly approach flowers that are being visited by honeybees. Hold the magnifying glass in front of your eyes and look at the bees. If you stay calm and move slowly, they won't mind you at all. They will just keep working.
What do you see? Can you see the body parts of a honeybee? The wings? The legs? The long tongue?
Have you tasted honey? It is super duper sweet and delicious. Try some on a spoon or spread a bit on top of peanut butter on bread. Don't forget to thank a honeybee!
Monday, July 13, 2015
This week I will be away from home (though I leave hubby in charge of garden, cats, grands, house, and the watering - yikes).
The agenda? First I will spend 2 glorious days creating rubber stamped cards with my college roomie. Oh, we may sneak in a summer concert at the U Village and ice cream. But the main event will be creating works of art. Or at least cards that use up a variety of scraps and utilize our 'feeding off of each other' ideas.
Next I will travel to the Pacific Northwest Writers Association Conference that will be held just south of Seattle. I am so excited to meet with other (crazy) writers like myself, learn more about the writing craft, and have the opportunity to mingle with and pitch book ideas to literary agents and editors. Yes, while this time is exhilarating in reference to hanging out with fellow pen pushers, it will also be fraught with nerves, blunders, and stuttering conversations during pitches and chats.
But worth it? Definitely.
I will be offline as far as blogging, so I leave you with a photo of one of my favorite chapter book series - The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. These books are near and dear to my readers' heart. I was introduced to C.S. Lewis and Narnia in grade school when the librarian, who was probably at her wits' end after I had read every-single-horse-book she had, suggested that I check out The Horse and His Boy.
And that was all it took. From horses to Narnia to wardrobes to Aslan to centaurs and many other fabulous imaginative characters.
Happy Reading! I will see you next week.
Friday, July 10, 2015
A Rock Can Be . . .
by Laura Purdie Salas
illustrations by Violeta Dabija
(Millbrook Press, 2015)
Rocks! I love rocks.
A Rock Can Be . . . is a fantastic book about many of the things that are made of rock or from rocks. Not only are the ideas of things made with rocks wide and varied, they are clever, rhyming, and colorfully illustrated. Even I, an adult, was reminded about objects made from rock that I knew, but had forgotten as I have gone about my adult life.
A Rock Can Be . . . is the perfect book for any child who loves nature. Especially those little ones who show up with pockets full of rocks or the kids who give you a special rock just found on a walk or in the backyard.
Rocks are amazing and everywhere. Read A Rock Can Be . . . to remind yourself about the importance of rocks.
Rocks can be found anywhere. Go for a walk in your neighborhood. Play a game to see how many things made with rocks you can find. Play the same game when you travel or run errands with your parents.
Some other great places to look for rocks:
- the beach
- the mountains
- big cities
- old cities
- out in the country
- on the farm
- at playgrounds
- near rivers, streams, and lakes
Can you find examples of the things made from rocks found in A Rock Can Be . . . ?
Happy rock hunting!
Thursday, July 9, 2015
By Jorey Hurley
(A Paula Wiseman Book, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Children, 2015)
One can probably tell by the title Fetch that this picture book is about dogs.
And one would be correct.
Fetch is the beautifully illustrated story about a dog at the beach. A single word joins the dog and his adventures on each page. The dog does what dogs do. It shakes, fetches, floats, and plays. But that is not all.
Imagine a trip to the beach and the dogs you've seen there.
Fetch is about those dogs. Young readers will love reading about the dog at the beach. Dog lovers will recognize every single action and be ready to head to the beach with their own dogs.
Do you have a dog? It's time to go out and play with the dog.
-go for a walk
-give the dog a bath
-take a nap under a tree with your dog
-go to the beach (if you are so blessed to live near a beach)
-teach your dog a trick like shaking hands or sitting up on it's hind legs
-brush your dog
What else does your dog like to do?
P.S. If you don't have a dog for a pet, maybe one of your neighbors or your grandma or grandpa has one you can play with for a bit.
Wednesday, July 8, 2015
Up the Creek
by Nicholas Oldland
(Kids Can Press, 2013)
Up the Creek is a humorous tale of three wildlife friends - a bear, a beaver, and a moose.
One day, the three friends, who often disagreed with one another, decided to go for a canoe ride. That was when the arguing, adventures, disasters, and hilarity began.
Young readers will have fun and laugh as they enjoy Up the Creek. Anyone who has siblings or friends will recognize the squabbling and cooperation that takes place throughout Up the Creek. This book would be good to help children learn how to get along with others.
Go on a Canoe Ride
Summer is the perfect time for exploring a stream, river, or pond in a canoe. Many parks and recreation areas rent canoes. Maybe a neighbor, friend, or family member has one you can borrow.
~ Borrow or rent a canoe.
~ Make sure you have enough life jackets for all canoe riders.
~ Ask about safety instructions.
~ Wear plenty of sunscreen and bug spray. A hat and sunglasses would also be good.
~ Practice making the canoe move in calm or shallow water. Once your group has the hang of it, get on out there and start exploring.
~ Take pictures or click 'mental' photos with your mind to remember the experience.
Did you experience any of the situations that bear, beaver, and moose ran into on their canoe ride? What was the hardest part? The easiest part? What was your favorite thing about going on a canoe ride?
Tuesday, July 7, 2015
A Single Pebble, A Story of the Silk Road
by Bonnie Christensen
(A Neal Porter Book, Roaring Book Press; 2013)
A Single Pebble, A Story of the Silk Road is the delightful tale of a young girl who sends a small pebble with her father when he goes to trade their silk at the market. Mei desired that the pebble travel to the end of the trade road, but father did not go that far.
With childlike trust, Mei knew her father would find a way to send the pebble on its way to a child at the other end of the road.
And just like that, the jade-colored pebble was on its way, passed from hand to hand to the journey's end. Finally, the single pebble arrived at the end of the line when a pirate delivered the pebble to his son.
Readers will learn about the history of the Silk Road during the 9th century. Colorful illustrations and interesting characters will inform and engage readers of all ages. But don't imagine that this picture book reads like a history book. The story found in A Single Pebble, A Story of the Silk Road is captivating.
Mei sent her treasure, a beautiful pebble, to travel with others in a journey that she could not yet make. Mei wanted to give her pebble to a child at the end of the road.
What treasures do you have? Do you collect something (rocks, cars, dolls, stickers, or other things)?
Assignment: Go find beautiful pebbles.
1. Beaches are a wonderful place to find pretty rocks. River beds and streams are another great place to search for treasure.
2. Choose your favorite pebble. Do you have company or relatives visiting this summer? Give one of them the pebble and ask that the traveler give the pebble to a child at the end of the road.
3. Keep collecting pebble treasures. When you get the opportunity, send one of your treasures on a journey to the end of a new road.
Monday, July 6, 2015
By Lizi Boyd
(Chronicle Books, 2013)
Clever cut-out windows play a part of two different story book pages in Inside Outside.
Inside Outside is a wordless picture book about things that happen inside and outside. Designed on brown craft look-alike paper, ink drawings and focused infusions of color draw attention to the inside and outside activities of the main character. I love this picture book and its simplicity and story about an industrious and creative child.
Inside Outside is full of ideas of things to do. I don't think that is the main purpose, but readers will be inspired about activities that could entertain and inspire children. The four different seasons are a part of the illustrations and activities in Inside Outside.
Young readers will love looking through the windows and cut-outs to discover how the pictures connect to both sides. Non-readers and readers alike will be engaged in this fun book.
What Is Outside and Inside Your Window?
Look out your window. What do you see? Does it change when you move?
Go outside. Look in your window. What do you see now? Do you need help to see inside the window?
Choose which way you prefer to look out (or in) the window. Draw a large rectangle on paper to make a window. Draw things inside the rectangle that you see through your window.
Use a different piece of paper to cut out a window. Hold it up and look through the paper window. What do you see?
Hold your thumbs to the opposite index fingers (the finger you use to point) to make a window. Walk around and look through the window made by your fingers. How does the view change when you are inside? Outside?
Where do you like to spend most of your time - inside or outside? Why?
Friday, July 3, 2015
By Greg Ruth
(A Feiwel and Friends Book, Macmillan, 2014)
Coming Home is a beautiful book. Period.
Eighteen words and gorgeous full-page illustrations tell the story about a boy waiting for his parent to return from overseas military service. The pictures fill in many details about military family life. Both poignant and delightful, I would recommend Coming Home to any family with serving military members. Any parent who wants to teach their child about sacrifice and freedom should also read Coming Home. Teachers and workers with children will want to read Coming Home to their groups of children, especially if one of their students has a family member away from home due to military service.
On behalf of all of those military members who have served our country, I say, "THANK YOU!"
And for the family members left behind, the ones who had to wait, worry, and pray, I say, "THANK YOU!"
Thank A Military Member
Find someone who served (or is serving) in the military - Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, National Guard, or any other military service.
Draw a picture and write a note to that person. Make sure to tell them thank you for serving our country.
With your parent, mail or deliver the picture and note.
If you deliver your note in person, be sure to:
- say "Thank you"
- shake hands
- make eye contact
Serving in the military is the choice of thousands of men and women. Remember to pray for our military service men and women and their families who miss them when they are away on duty.
Thursday, July 2, 2015
The First Independence Day Celebration
By Kathy Allen
Illustrated by Tom Sperling
(Picture Window Books, 2010)
Happy Birthday, America!
If you are looking for a book that simply and easily relates the history of July 4th, Independence Day for the United States of America, The First Independence Day Celebration is a great one to read.
Simple yet complete text and full page illustrations make this book good for young listeners and older readers. Children will see the look of historical settings and learn about why our country celebrates July 4th. There is, after all, a great reason for all of the red, white, and blue activities. Parades, fireworks, and family traditions of celebrations on this day in July not only mark summer vacation, but are the perfect opportunity to sneak in a little history.
Add meaning to the birthday of our nation by reading The First Independence Day Celebration.
Fourth of July Traditions
1. What does your family do every 4th of July? Make a list of the traditions you enjoy. BBQ? Fireworks? Parades? Picnic? Go to the beach?
2. Do you wear special clothes for the 4th of July? Do you have red, white, and blue clothes or something with a flag?
3. How many flags do you see flying on Independence Day? Does your family display one at your home? Do you wave a flag while watching a parade?
4. Take some photos of what you do on America's birthday. Dig out old photos from previous years. What has changed? Are there any new traditions you enjoy? What would you like to add next year?
Have fun and stay cool while you and your family celebrate our country!
And don't forget to sing "Happy Birthday" to America!