Friday, March 30, 2007

My First Poetry Friday-A Family of Poems

While I prefer reading fictional chapter and picture books to my children, I do occasionally pull out a poetry anthology to read aloud. One technique for getting my oldest son involved is to make it a game. I start turning the pages of the book and when he tells me to stop I read the poem on the page he selected. Then his sister and brother take their turns. Our recent favorite anthology due to it's beautiful illustrations and mix of poetry is A Family of Poems collected by Caroline Kennedy and illustrated by Jon J. Muth. I will probably talk about this volume again since it has inspired our family in other ways.
This is our current favorite from this book. (I searched far and wide to make sure this was copyright free. Needless to say, it is a very, very old poem.)

A Fairy in Armor

He put his acorn helmet on;
It was plumed of the silk of the thistle down;
The corslet plate that guarded his breast
Was once the wild bee's golden vest;
His cloak, of a thousand mingled dyes,
Was formed of the wings of butterflies;
His shield was the shell of a lady-bug green,
Studs of gold on a ground of green;
And the quivering lance which he brandished bright,
Was the sting of a wasp he had slain in fight.
Swift he bestrode his fire-fly steed;
He bared his blade of the bent-grass blue;
He drove his spurs of the cockle-seed,
And away like a glance of thought he flew,
To skim the heavens, and follow far
The fiery trail of the rocket-star.

Joseph Rodman Drake

And you should see the illustration....monarch wings and all.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

17 Things I'm Not Allowed to Do Anymore

Before I begin, I want to say that I was very excited to get my hands on this book. I had heard great things! I was more excited to see that we had a copy at our local library. Unfortunately, my reaction after seeing the book was not as positive as I hoped. I am a sucker for illustrations. My kids and I love to pore through details and I am always excited to point out the various artistic styles. Like Charlie and Lola (favorite book characters in our house) the illustrations integrated real elements such as fabric and food that tied in with the pictures. I especially liked the gift bow pulled across the page when she wants to give the gift of food to her brother. So I really do like the illustrations. My problem was with the story. Each double page spread begins with the phrase, "I had an idea to...." followed by things like walking backwards on the way to school or gluing her brother's slippers to the floor. Then the opposite page begins with "I am not allowed to..." do whatever it was anymore. Maybe my first read through should have been by myself, but my kids saw the book in my bag and wanted to read it. Again, a nice cover that draws the reader to the book. So I began reading aloud. I thought, "What a neat concept. What a spunky little girl." But after a few pages I began to tire of reading the repetitive text. I also began to think, "Oh boy, I hope my kids don't get any ideas from this book." There are some spots where the spunky girl throws food, staples her brother's hair to the pillow, and tries to start a fire on a boy's shoe with a magnifying glass and the power of the sun. Then I questioned whether I was being a prude and maybe I am. Overall I just didn't get the book as it progressed. In the end, the little girl has an idea to say the opposite of what she means in order to trick everyone and make them believe that she is sorry. This book just didn't do it for me. Yet I must say I am a huge fan of Junie B. Jones, David in David Shannon's No, David!, and the beloved Ramona. There was a missing element in this story that didn't create that same naughty but likeable character.
Although only four and five, my kids did really like the book.

Find other reviews of this book at:
Planet Esme
Book Buds
Your Neighborhood Librarian

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Small books

This week I was able to go to the library with just one of my three children which is always a treat. In this case, it was my four year old daughter. She simply loves little books. (Even better, small books in boxes!) In our library we have a small castle bookcase that houses the small versions of children's books. One of her favorites is Little Richard by Patricia M. Scarry. She has checked it out so many times that I considered buying a copy until I saw the price on Amazon! For others searching for small books you might consider these:

Nutshell Library by Maurice Sendak

Making Mini Books

Any Beatrix Potter books. My daughter has the minature collection which did not hold together well. I would recommend The World of Peter Rabbit box set.

Usborne books also publishes several of their encyclopedias and story collections in miniature size. My daughter and my son love holding these books comfortably in their hands and don't mind that the text is so small.

Check out this great post at the Brookeshelf about an online exhibit of miniature books.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Shivers in the Fridge

The Shivers by Fran Manushkin and illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky is a very clever story about a family of magnets who accidentally get placed into the fridge rather than on the outside. The inside of the fridge is portrayed as a very cold and scary world where monsters (People) frequently visit and cause earthquakes. One by one the Shivers are pulled out of the fridge by the monsters in creative ways related to food. The Grandpa goes out to search for a warmer place and gets stuck to the top of a ketchup bottle. Mama gets stuck in a warm bowl of jello! Be sure to notice a clue as to how the Shivers find their way into the fridge on the page before the title page. When you are finished reading, pull off the dust jacket to discover one of Paul's first ideas for the cover of the book. View it's opposite on the back cover of the book!
I have been noticing that his artwork for this book has drawn some mixed reviews. Although the artwork in this book diverges from his usual work, I appreciate an illustrator that takes risks and tries new techniques. I purchased this book at the Keene State College Literature Festival in October. Paul was a guest speaker and did some on the spot illustrations of the characters using his computer drawing software (?Adobe) and a stylus and pad.
He also mentioned how he went to the grocery store to get his creative "juices" flowing! I can appreciate that as I view the mushroom fire hydrant and the ginger dog on each page.
As for a kids response to this book, my kids love it. I think it is the suspense of finding out what they already know, that the Shivers are only magnets placed accidentally in the fridge. As an extension to reading the book, my kids and I made a bowl of green jello! I just wish we had our own little set of the Shivers to add to our refridgerator.

For Related Reviews:

Mother Reader

A Fuse #8 Production

Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast

Friday, March 16, 2007

My Reading Interests

I thought it might be wise to create a post about my reading preferences before I continue to post other thoughts, reviews, and ideas. I am a huge fantasy/science fiction fan when it comes to reading or viewing movies. I also love any book that my kids (5,4,and 2) find appealing since I believe they are quite discerning in their preferences as well. I love having a "real book" to hold in my hands while at the same time I am very interested in ebook technology and how it can be a valuable tool in the language arts classroom. I would prefer to read a children's book over an adult piece of fiction any day. I'm addicted to buying books. One of my favorite activities is to go to the local bookstore at 9 p.m. at night and just look and read. Of course, I usually come home with something. I see myself going back to the classroom when my children are all in school and then possibly pursuing a degree in Library Science.

My favorite authors and illustrators are:
Chris Van Allsburg
David Weisner
Philip Pullman
Eric Carle
Peggy Rathmann

Some of my favorite books are:
The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins by Barbara Kerley
The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg
Wild About Books by Judy Sierra
Actual Size by Steve Jenkins
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
The Jolly Postman by Janet and Allan Ahlberg
Holes by Louis Sachar