Let’s Read Three: Books About The Sea!

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Summer is in full swing here and it is hot. So hot, that most people have fled to the beach to take refuge in the cool water, shady umbrellas, and chilled beverages. My August does not hold such plans, so instead I think it appropriate to read about such sea escapees. It’s time for another in the Let’s Read Three series. Join me as we see three beloved characters take to the sea for lovely vacation adventures. Let’s read three sea books! Read the full post…

Book Review & Giveaway: The Princess and the Pony By Kate Beaton

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Princesses. I have a very uneasy feeling anytime the subject of princesses comes up in today’s children’s market. Princess themes seem to be everywhere. I probably lean much more anti-princess than I should and I have to remind myself to think back to my own childhood. I was a child of the 80s where the Disney movies were continually coming out, but they were not marketed as “princess movies” back then. They were just Disney movies and everyone was fairly excited about the new releases. I also was a very “stereotypical girl,” loving pink, dresses, dolls, tea parties, and Barbies. But as most people tend to not be one-dimensional in their interests, I could also be found playing with cars & Legos, climbing trees, playing soccer, and hunting for worms. I probably would have been excited by the “princess market” had it existed back then, and that is the part of me that I have to remember as I seek out balance in raising my own girls. While I still plan to block any obvious media brainwashing to obsess over a particular theme, I’m also seeking out ways to encourage their interests and broaden their perspectives on ideas.

So what was the point of that intro? A few weeks ago a review request came across my mailbox and I was too curious to pass it up. It had “Princess” in the title, but thankfully I had heard rumors of this book and I am always searching for “princess books” that break the mold. Kate Beaton’s new book doesn’t even come close to fitting any supposed mold. The word “princess” is merely a title for our little heroine and plays very little role in the plot of the story. Beaton has created a story about Vikings, birthday presents, ponies, and perceptions that will make you laugh, warm your heart, and remind you of no other princess book you’ve seen before. Take a look at The Princess and the Pony by Kate Beaton, 2015. Read the full post…

How To Be An Excellent Father: a few observations from Father Bear Comes Home by Minarik & Sendak

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Sunday was Father’s Day in the U.S. and I have been determined to do a companion to my Mother’s Day post last month, this time looking at Father Bear from our beloved Little Bear book series. Now, I am not a father, so it feels a little weird to be writing a “how-to” post on something I am not and won’t ever be. But Father Bear is such a strong literary character that it seems only fitting to devote a post to him in celebration of the holiday. In the children’s literature world, parents are often quite terrible or non-existent; so I adore the solid, faithful figure Father Bear presents. Let’s take a look at a few of Father Bear’s strengths and celebrate the joy of fatherhood through him. Here are my observations on how to be a great dad as seen in Father Bear Comes Home by Else Holmelund Minarik, pictures by Maurice Sendak, 1959. Read the full post…

Let’s Read Superhero Books, Part 2

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Today I finally continue our superhero celebration with Part 2: a superhero picture book list. As you can imagine given the subject matter, superhero books abound. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but more a sampling of the ones that fit the broad topic covering I was trying to achieve. So let’s get started with superhero picture books! Read the full post…

Let’s Read Superhero Books, Part 1: The Princess In Black By Hale & Pham

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Today I am excited to share some books that fall in the superhero genre of books, perfect for those Marvel-loving readers. The class I am working with in the South Bronx is full of superhero fans, but most of them only follow the famous characters like Spider-Man and Batman and Wonder Woman. So for one of our recent reading hours, I pulled together a pile of books that all had superhero themes. We read another chapter book, but this one is much shorter and full of illustrations as well, making it possible for us to read the whole thing within our hour as well as a couple short picture books. I’m going to split up my review again so that I can share details about the chapter book in Part 1 and in Part 2 I will share all the picture books we read as well as a few suggestions for other books that we ran out of time for.

Let’s read some superhero books, starting with awesomeness from The Princess in Black by Shannon Hale & Dean Hale, illustrated by LeUyen Pham, 2014.

PrincessinBlack1 Read the full post…

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…