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Category Archives: Children’s

Goldilocks and the Three Bears by Lauren Child

Goldilocks and the Three Bears by Lauren ChildThe liquidation book fairies were very kind to me last week.  As I was cleaning up what was left of our Kids’ department for the umpteenth time one morning, I stumbled upon this lovely version of Goldilocks, as told by Lauren Child.  When I saw that it was illustrated with photographs of handmade dolls posed in a handcrafted cabin, I knew that I had to buy a copy for fellow bookseller and reviewer hardboundandgagged.  In case you don’t know her in real life (which I imagine most of you don’t), she is not only a fantastic kids’ bookseller, but she also does some very unique artwork.  A lot of that artwork utilizes dolls, and she poses them for photographs that are works of art in and of themselves.  So, basically, this book could have had her name written on it.

After I bought it and brought it home, however, I realized that I had a problem.  Although this book was perfect for her, after looking through it in more detail, I realized I was going to need a copy for myself.  And that is the really impressive part – somehow, the very next day, while cleaning up the Kids’ section yet again, a second copy materialized in front of me.  A liquidation miracle!  That kind of magical discovery would never happen while buying books online.  Suffice it to say, we both have our own copies now, and she kindly allowed me to write the review.

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SMARTYPANTS (Pete in School) by Maira Kalman

As the school year begins and we rush around, picture books are often overlooked. For a young child they can open the world, and for an older child they can quiet or explain a world that might be best explained visually. In this fast paced E-Reader world, remember the value of a picture book collection of your own and support authors who share their brilliant work with us.

This book is by Maira Kalman, one of my all time favorite artists. She is absolutely brilliant. I laughed out loud just reading the back of this book. I hope you and your children will treasure Smartypants.

Pete the dog eats everything! No kidding. After a long summer, Poppy Wise and her brother Mookie go back to school. Poor Pete is lonely at home without them, so naturally Pete heads to school. He interrupts every classroom eating everything along the way, including the 26-volume encyclopedia in the principal’s office.   That night, Pete is able to speak. He is brilliant and filled with knowledge from eating everything at school. He tells the children fabulous facts and helps them with homework. The next day, Poppy Wise and Mookie disguise Pete and sneak him back into school.  He gets to enjoy a typical school day, answering questions, being engaged and enthusiastic to learn. Unfortunately, by the evening Pete has digested all the information and is no longer able to speak; his knowledge is all gone and he is Sweet Pete the dog again.

Thanks to a vivid imagination, a fabulous story and quirky wonderful illustrations, Smartypants is my winner for the start of the school year.

Recommended for ages 5yrs to 100yrs.

 
 

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Poindexter Makes a Friend by Mike Twohy

Poindexter Makes a FriendMy nephew thinks I bought this book for him.  While he’s somewhat correct — it really is a fun book to read to a child, so borrow one (a child, that is) if you have to — apparently I am still working on my “sharing” skills, because this one lives at my house, not his.

It’s about a young pig named Poindexter who is shy around his relatives and other kids in the neighborhood, preferring to read to the stuffed animals in his room instead of joining the kids outside.  This reminds me so much of my nephew, who gathers his stuffed animals around him during bedtime stories, saying, “Come here, friends!”  (Although he also loves running around outside, but I digress.)  Poindexter is perfectly happy with this arrangement, but how is a well-adjusted, well-read young pig to make friends with other animals that are not stuffed?  He finds solace in the local library, where he sits and reads but also helps the librarian push the book cart and reshelve books.  I was a very happy aunt indeed when I pointed to the picture and asked where Poindexter was going, and my nephew immediately responded, “Library!”

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Shiver Me Letters: A Pirate ABC by June Sobel

Shiver Me LettersIf you need a fabulous Alphabet book  — this is it!  It is fun to read, well-paced and brilliant. It should be in every kindergarten classroom and is a perfect gift for any 3-6 year old.

“R,” roared the captain. “R’s not enough. We need other letters to help make us tough. “Let’s sail far away to find ABC’s. Bring me back D’s, E’s, F’s, and some G’s.” “R,” cried the crew. “R, we agree! Let’s look for an A and a B and a C!”

And so the adventure begins. Each capital letter is cleverly found and the text is in brilliant rhyme.  I highly recommend this book.    *****

 

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MUD PIES and OTHER RECIPES: A COOKBOOK FOR DOLLS by Marjorie Winslow

In honor of summer vacation, this is a “slow down” book that inspires outside play. We should never hear the word “bored” from our children. There are always BOOKS to read, things to make with sticks and boxes, or, as I say, laundry to fold.

“This is a cookbook for dolls. It is written for kind climates and summertime. It is an outdoor cookbook, because dolls dote on mud, when properly prepared. They love the crunch of pine needles and the sweet feel of seaweed on the tongue.”

“The sea makes a nice sink; so does a puddle at the end of a hose. For a stove there is the sun, or a  flat stone.”

Originally published in 1961, Marjorie Winslow’s clever recipes are timeless. This little gem creates everything a doll (or bear) might like to eat during a good day of outside play. No need to purchase plastic play food, this book inspires children to make their own creations. I have fond memories of the beautiful plastic necklace “cakes” my daughter made for her dolls. I highly recommend this book; it reflects a kind of play that is mandatory but often neglected for electronic entertainment.  It’s time to turn off  the TV and go outside.

SILKY SPAGHETTI

“…Collect enough corn silk to fill a big bowl. Add 2 cups of fresh air and leave in the sun until just tender. If a sauce is desired, the following may be poured over each serving: to 1 melted ice cube, add 1 teaspoon of minced grass and a dash of white sand.”

MUD PUDDLE SOUP

“…Find a mud puddle after a rainstorm and seat your dolls around it. Serve.”

PINE NEEDLE UPSIDE-DOWN CAKE

“…Using the square cake pan, cover the bottom with a layer of pine needles. Then mix moist earth from the foot of a pine tree with pine needles and pack the mixture tightly into the pan on top of the layer of pine needles. Place in a hot sun to bake, turning upside down to unmold. “

 

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A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead, illustrated by Erin E. Stead

A Sick Day for Amos McGeeConsidering this is book won the 2011 Caldecott Medal, I’m hardly the first person to sing its praises.  If you are not familiar with it, you’ll be wanting to find a copy at a bookstore in your area.

The story involves a zoo keeper named Amos McGee, who is attuned to the personalities of the animals in his charge and works to accommodate them.  He runs races with a tortoise, for instance, and the tortoise always wins.  The owl is afraid of the dark, so he reads stories to him.  The penguin is shy, so they just sit together in companionable silence.

Then one morning Amos wakes up sick and can’t go in to work at the zoo.  The animals take it upon themselves to visit him and return the kindness he has always shown them.  They play games with him, read books to him, and generally keep him company until he feels better.

I like how this book shows a loving relationship between a caretaker and his charges.  It also sends a strong message that if you treat others kindly, they will return the favor, without sounding the least bit preachy.  The illustrations are done in pencil and woodblock, giving the book an old-fashioned feeling, though it is brand new.  Every page features animals big and small – look for the hidden mice and birds throughout the story.  Even his bedspread at home has an animal theme, decorated with a peacock feather pattern.

Great read for an afternoon home sick or as a bedtime story!

 
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Posted by on June 15, 2011 in Book Reviews, Children's

 

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Edwina, The Dinosaur Who Didn’t Know She Was Extinct by Mo Willems

EdwinaI am declaring this week Children’s Book Review Week here at BwoB, both because I’m a little behind on my other reading and because it’s nice to try writing outside my usual realm of YA, genre, and select non-fiction.  It should be noted that many of the titles I review this week were first recommended to me by fellow blogger hardboundandgagged, our outstanding kids’ bookseller in another life, when they let all of us, y’know, sell books.  She’s helped me stock the libraries of my first niece and nephew, who are my current excuses for reading picture books.

Presumably everyone reading this blog has heard of Mo Willems, best known for his Pigeon and Knuffle  Bunny series.  Edwina, The Dinosaur Who Didn’t Know She Was Extinct, is a bit off the beaten path of his other work, but still retains his signature wit in both the text and illustrations.  It stars Edwina, a dinosaur who didn’t get the memo about her species’ extinction and continues to help everyone in town and bake cookies.  A young boy named Reginald Von Hoobie-Doobie (and you have to love that name) sets out to convince everyone in his class that dinosaurs truly are extinct, thinking it will make Edwina – obvious proof to the contrary – disappear.  Eventually Edwina hears him out, is convinced that she is extinct, but decides she just doesn’t care.  The book ends with Edwina and Reginald sharing some fresh-baked cookies.

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Posted by on June 13, 2011 in Book Reviews, Children's

 

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