How To Be An Excellent Mother: a few observations from Little Bear by Minarik & Sendak

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Yesterday was Mother’s Day here in the United States. It is an interesting holiday, that most consider to be a marketing ploy, although a previous book I’ve discussed taught me differently. I sheepishly admit that I don’t care too much about Mother’s Day. It is a fine holiday, but always feels a little overdone to me. I do love my mother and mother-in-law, and I never turn down a lovely gift or two or flowers or chocolates or any combination thereof. And I am honored that I am a mother with two children of my own. But perhaps it is because I am in what is considered the throes of toddlerhood that I feel being a mother just isn’t always marvelous. It is hard stuff. Pantloads of patience are required. Motherhood asks for lots of creativity, multitasking, functioning on very little sleep, and did I mention patience?

Well this year, I found myself pondering Mother’s Day a bit differently. My oldest daughter currently holds a deep love for the Little Bear series. As any self-respecting bibliophile would do, I introduced her to the books first. She loved them. And then I happened to remember an animated series based on the books that ran years ago. I looked it up and presto, an obsession was born. We don’t do much watching of anything around here, Mary Poppins being the typical sick-day fare, but a short “Little Bear” here and there have been much delighted in by my daughter and me as well. The books are phenomenal, and the animated series does pretty well at representing them well, although I have some beefs with the completely made up episodes and especially the added characters with more annoying characteristics. But I digress.

All this to say, I have become very familiar with the Little Bear family and I now have a very deep fondness and admiration for Mother Bear. So here, for my day after Mother’s Day post, I am resurrecting the “How To” posts to admire and learn from Little Bear’s fabulous and dearly loved Mother Bear. With the help of the first of the books, Little Bear, by Else Holmelund Minarik, pictures by Maurice Sendak, 1957, here are my five ways to be an excellent mother: Read the full post…

Book Review: Black And White By Dahlov Ipcar

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A little black dog and
a little white dog
were friends,

And they stayed together
and played together
all day long.

Words so simple and yet so lyrical, those are the words on the opening spread of Dahlov Ipcar’s stunning book about two dogs, two friends, two colors, and the adventures and imaginings surrounding them. Originally published at the height of the US civil rights movement in 1963, Flying Eye Books has remastered the original art and traditionally printed the book (on uncoated paper!) using the same bold spot color that made Ipcar known as a true master of color and organic form. I am thrilled to add this timeless and yet continually so poignant piece of work into my own library and I am delighted to share it with you. Come look at this breathtaking book, Black and White by Dahlov Ipcar, 1963 and now 2015. Read the full post…

Let’s Read Three: Birthday Books!

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April is a crazy fun birthday month for us nowadays. Both my daughters were born in April so this month has proven to be particularly festive. What a perfect occasion for a book grouping and I am particularly fond of these three. The first is newer and by a current illustrator obsession of mine, the second is one of our oldest’s very favorite books and was also one of my husband’s favorite childhood books, and the third was one of my favorite childhood books. I love when books stay around like that. We tend to think books are a part of our lives, but sometimes, we are just a part of theirs!

Come join the party and read three books celebrating birthdays! Read the full post…

Let’s Read A Pile Of Dragon Books, Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of my crazy dragon piles of books. If you missed Part 1, check it out for information on the chapter book we read, My Father’s Dragon, and all the crafts we ended up making with my South Bronx storytime group.

As promised, here is the rest of the pile of dragon books we ended up loving. It is quite a varied assortment, my only criteria being that there must be a dragon in it in some way. Themes work best when there is great variety among the books instead of feeling that they drag out. I’m going to do my old, big lists thing and just give one picture and a brief statement about each. So let’s read some dragon books!

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Let’s Read A Pile Of Dragon Books, Part 1

Excuse the somewhat oddball post here. I recently finished leading an after-school class/storytime of sorts in the South Bronx. It was a five week experiment group that was equally exciting and exhausting. It was a test run to see what kind of thing we could come up and what would work. I chose a dragon theme that included a chapter book to read a couple chapters from each week, and also picture books to supplement for a little storytime each week. I want to try and share snapshots of the time as it is about reading, completely took over my time recently, and might tickle the fancy of those dragon lovers out there. In this first part, I’ll tell you about the chapter book we read and the activities we ended up doing around it. In the second part, hopefully coming this week as well, I will share the dragon picture books we read and loved.

Our chapter book for this test cycle was the classic My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett, illustrated by Ruth Chrisman Gannett, 1948.

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This book is so fascinating. It is only ten chapters long, has an excellent rhythm to its pacing, and somehow stays incredibly exciting and unique despite its age. Read the full post…

Book Review: This is New York By M. Sasek

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Today is St. Patrick’s Day and while I’m all about wearing green for any occasion, I’m actually celebrating another special, personal holiday. This marks our year anniversary of living in NYC! Oh, how things have changed in that year. I thought it appropriate to celebrate an old book that still rings true and delights in the city. Originally printed in 1960, M. Sasek’s fabulous look at New York was reprinted in 2003 with some updated statistics. It is a beautiful look at the big and small, up and down, packed amazingness of the largest city in the Western Hemisphere. This is New York by M. Sasek, 1960/2003. Read the full post…

Let’s Read Three: Search Books!

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The long, cold winter days are starting to wear thin around here. Now is when I start grabbing for books that ask more from the reader. I’m calling this grouping “Search Books,” but perhaps that title is a bit lacking still. Each of these are descended in some form from the Where’s Waldo genre of books; but I love these more because they carry a solid storyline as well. You don’t have to search when you read them, but they are exponentially more fun if you do. Grab your magnifying glasses and let’s read three books that make you search!

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Book Review: Kuma-Kuma Chan, The Little Bear By Kazue Takahashi

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Have you met Kuma-Kuma Chan yet? We are quite smitten with this little bear and his simple, adorable book. His story was originally published in Japan in 2001, but he has finally made his way over to the U.S. thanks to Museyon. He is a little bear that keeps quite busy and will delight every reader with this charming look at what a day in his life might possibly look like. Meet Kuma-Kuma Chan, The Little Bear by Kazue Takahashi, 2014. Read the full post…

Let’s Read Three: Snow Books!

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It seems that Winter Storm Juno was not as bad as predicted, at least here in NYC; but we do have a lot of snow! And of course, snow means snow days, and snow days mean playing in the snow. And when we are done freezing in the snow, we warm up with cocoa and books about snow of course! I have written about many wintery, snowy books in the past including my winter list from 2013 and one of my new favorite snow books by Jonathan Bean from last year. But today, for this Let’s Read Three series, I bring three vintage books about the anticipation, excitement, and joy of snow.

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An added bonus in each of these, that I didn’t originally intend, is that they all feature sledding! The third book, I am of course cheating a bit as I only intend to feature the first story, “Down the Hill.” But it counts as a story, and is just the right length for a cozy reading with these other two. Let’s read three books about winter and snow! Read the full post…

Let’s Read Three: Inventing Books!

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Happy New Year friends! It is that time of year where everyone seems to have some kind of refresh on their mind. Be it resolutions, lists, a determined thought – the new year tends to give us some extra gusto to do something. With these new resolves in mind, I think this set of three is perfect to encourage and motivate on whatever project you long to create.

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I toyed with calling these “Perseverance Books,” but it sounded too cheesy. I also realized that adults don’t really talk about “inventing” things, unless that is their actual occupation. Children’s books are full of inventors and inventions of all sorts. I think we need to get back to believing we can create a solution to something, no matter our age. So, let’s read three books celebrating the failures and surprising successes of inventing!

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